Hiking in the Superstitions, AZ

October 9-12, 2013

Shut out of the national parks due to the federal government shut down* in early October we scrambled to find a suitable alternative. But really, can anything replace the Grand Canyon?

After consulting various maps and hiking guides we settled on the Superstition Wilderness just east of the Phoenix metropolitan area. A cold front passing through the state plunged temperatures 20 degrees below normal. While it was snowing in Flagstaff, highs in the Sonoran desert were in the low 70s, ideal for hiking.

Superstitions AZ

The Superstition Mountains are part of Tonto National Forest. All services for the wilderness area, therefore, were shut down, including the area’s recreational lakes, but not the hiking trails. The Lost Dutchman State Park bordering the wilderness area was also running smoothly with available camping, a helpful ranger and great views of the iconic formations.

Superstitions AZ

We arrived at the campground late in the afternoon during a dust storm that turned into a night of perpetual showers. By morning everything was drenched. It continued to drizzle as we packed up our gear for two days in the back country.

Superstitions AZ

Ranger Georgie at the campground office helped us map out a 3 day/2 night loop hike along some of the wilderness’s most scenic trails. Most importantly, telling us where we would have the greatest possibility of finding water.

Her suggested route:

Day 1 –  6.4 miles – Bluff Spring and La Barge trails to Charlebois Spring Camp

Day 2 – ~7 miles – Dutchman’s trail to the Peralta trail via the shorter route over Upper Black Top Mesa Pass. Camp near the base of Weavers Needle, below Fremont Saddle.

Day 3 – ~2.5 miles – A short hike over the Fremont Saddle and through the popular Peralta Canyon.

We found all the suggested trails to be well blazed and only moderately difficult, i.e. no scrambling over rocks or long steep climbs.


*Due to political dysfunction and the nature of our governmental system the federal government “shut down” non-essential operations, including the national parks, as of October 1st, 2013. The shutdown ended on October 17th.

This entry was posted in Hiking, Hiking Western US, Travel, Travel Western US and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Hiking in the Superstitions, AZ

  1. Pingback: Superstitions AZ – Peralta Trailhead to Charlebois Spring via Bluff Spring Trail | Cooking in Tongues

  2. Pingback: Superstitons, AZ – Charlebois Spring to the Peralta Trail | Cooking in Tongues

  3. Mary Meyer says:

    Hey! This is Mary, Janet’s grand-daughter. I talked with you briefly about camping at her house. That has quickly evolved into excitement for backpacking and I just did my first overnight in the White Tanks! I am enjoying your blog so much, and I am planning on doing a similar hiking trip in the superstition wilderness, but maybe doing only one night and taking Terrapin back to the trailhead instead of Peralta. Thank you so much for all of the detailed information and beautiful photos! Take care.

    • baidanbi says:

      Hi Mary,
      Congratulations on your first backpacking trip! I’m super excited for you, so many great opportunities in this part of the country. You should have a great time in the Superstitions. I’d love to hear how it goes.

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