The full moon is March 20, which is a Wednesday, so we will have plenty of light.
Sunday, March 17, 2019
Start on the Bluff Spring Trail. At about the 2.5-mile point, if you look north you may notice the remains of the old Williams Camp and mine up on the south face of Bluff Spring Mountain. Bluff Spring Mountain has been an extreme hot spot for “Dutch hunters” over the years. At the Dutchman’s intersection we take the path to the north.
The first spring we will encounter is Bluff Spring, which is located a short distance after turning north on the Dutchman’s Trail. Look for a “use” trail that goes left up into the first ravine on the east face of Bluff Spring Mountain. Although concealed fairly deep in the trees, it is easy to find and for the most water, go just beyond the first pipe to the second. We will stop for a rest here, but not pump water.
At about the 4.25mi point the trail turns westerly and begins a bit steeper descent. Look ahead for the famed “50-armed cactus” at the 4.5-mile point. From a distance this giant saguaro doesn’t look all that impressive, but up close it is a true behemoth. It is evidently listed on the National Register as one of the largest on record.
As we continue our steady descent into LaBarge Canyon we will come to the Red Tanks Trail intersection and one of the prettiest spots on the hike. The riparian area is very lush with large Cottonwoods and Sycamores lining LaBarge Creek. We will stop here for some rest and snacks.
Continuing north toward Music Canyon, we will go through some nice shady areas of Hackberry trees along the trail. It won’t be long till you reach the intersection with Peters Trail, which likely will appear fairly faint and underused. A short distance ahead is a flat area with many well-used clearings / camping areas at the foot of Charlebois Canyon. A well-used path heads up the canyon toward the spring itself. Along the way you’ll pass a concrete cattle trough once fed by the spring. Continuing up the canyon we will begin to encounter numerous pools of flowing water amongst the thickening vegetation and boulders. We will set up camp in this canyon.
After the camp is set up, we will be finding the much-ballyhooed Master Map. Whether the inscriptions on this rock face were pictographic directions made by Mexican miners well over a century ago, possibly leading to a lost mine as some would hope, or merely designs of unknown meaning left by ancient native Americans has never been determined. Although this site is touted by some sources as easy to find, I would have to disagree. The rock is not obscured by bushes, but sits pretty much in plain sight with the very old Forest Service sign still intact, but barely legible. In reality, the Master Map or “Inscription Rock” itself is not all that spectacular
Monday, March 18, 2019
Take the Dutchman’s Trail over to the Bull Trail. This trail will take us to the top of Black Top Mesa. We then need to find the old trail that leads to the summit. From the summit we will get great views of Weaver’s Needle and Battleship. We will find a shady spot and have lunch here. After lunch we will be off to find the Spain’s map rock that is on top of Black Top Mesa. We then continue on and down the other side of Black Top Mesa, to meet up with the Dutchman’s Trail. Then take the Dutchman’s Trail back to our camp. We will pass the Superstitions Arch on the way back. This will be an 8-9 mile hike.
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Exit back to the cars, on the same trail we came in on.
• Sturdy hiking boots
• At least 3 liters of water
• Rain poncho
• Hat, sunblock, sunglasses
• Lunch or snacks
updated November 28, 2018