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Bluff Spring Loop Day Hike
Superstition Wilderness
December 3, 2016
by Dave French
  Trail Map 
group_CW
Clockwise Group:
Dale, Peter, Alan, Nancy, Natalie, Matias, Debbie, Monika, Wendy, Diva, Michael, April, Ralph
group_CCW
Counterclockwise Group:
Sandy, Tom, Dana, Tamar, Dave, Rudy, Billie, Laurie, Jon, Mimi

On a very cool Saturday morning 23 hikers met at Home Depot in Mesa. One hiker got the meetup location confused, and after calling me decided not to go on the hike. We had the hikers decide who wanted to hike clockwise around the loop and who wanted to go counterclockwise. We got most of the hikers to get into carpools with hikers going in the same direction around the loop. By 7:15 AM we were on the road to the Peralta Trailhead.

When we arrived there were already several other cars in the parking lot, and a volunteer search and rescue group was there to advise hikers and hand out information. There was a long queue of people waiting at the one-hole toilet. So after a little delay, we took pictures of each group. Note that everyone was bundled up with the temperature about 50 degrees. We launched the hike about 8:15 with Michael leading 13 hikers going clockwise and Dave leading 10 hikers going counterclockwise. I will describe the experience of the group of 10.

Ready_Tom
Ready to Rumble. [photo by Tom]
shadows
Starting in the shadows. [photo by Tom]
warmer_Tom
Break out into warmer sunshine. [photo by Tom]
shed_Tom
Time to shed a layer. [photo by Tom]
salute
Saguaros salute the hoodoos.
views_DF
Taking in the view.
Bears_Tom
Mama and Baby Bears say “Hi.” [photo by Tom]

From Peralta Trailhead we headed north (not west on the Peralta Trail that leads to Fremont Saddle). After crossing a dry creek we came to the junction of the Bluff Spring Trail and the Dutchman’s Trail. We made a right turn onto Dutchman’s trail while the 13 hikers going clockwise continued north on the Bluff Spring Trail. We quickly began a climb and for the most part were in shadows for the first half mile or so. We finally go to the top of a ridge and got into the welcomed sunshine to help warm us up. We continued across Barkley’s Basin, which is a beautiful saguaro-studded rolling valley with hoodoo-lined cliffs to our left. We soon saw “mama bear” waving and “baby bear” with his back to us.

Miners_Tom
The eye of Miner's Needle. [photo by Tom]
Duck
“Quack.”
MinersCanyon
Looking back at Miners Canyon.
Laurie_Tom
Laurie says it’s that-a-way, while Dave tries to reach Michael on the radio. [photo by Tom]

We reached the junction with Coffee Flat Trail and then turned northward, continuing on the Dutchman’s trail into Miner’s Canyon. We saw “duck rock” and soon afterwards Miner’s Needle with the window most visible. The sun was just to the left on the needle at 10:15 AM, so the photos were not great. We continued generally northward and upward to Miner’s summit and the junction with Whiskey Spring Trail but we continued on Dutchman’s trail. From the summit we enjoyed the down grade toward Crystal Spring and Bluff Spring and the junction with the Bluff Spring Trail. At about the 5.5 mile point we found some nice rocks and decided this would be a good spot for lunch and meet up with the group going clockwise. We radioed to them and they were near the Bluff Spring/Dutchman trail junction which we estimated was about 10 minutes away. So we quickly took the best rocks to sit on and waited for the other group to arrive.

CCW_Group
Counterclockwise Group gets to the lunch spot first.
combined
The combined groups at the lunch spot.

After lunch we took a group photo of the combined parties and then proceeded along the trail. We came to the junction with Bluff Spring and took a left on that trail. If we had continued on Dutchman Trail we would eventually wind up at the First Water Trailhead. Nobody wanted to do that. The valley where the two springs are is quite lush with plants and Bluff Spring Mountain looms to the west. We encountered a crew doing trail maintenance on the Bluff Spring Trail. It was a large crew because we encounter groups of workers almost all the way back to the Peralta Trailhead. We thanked them for their hard work. Trail maintenance is a back-breaking job. You should try it sometime. I have.

beautiful_Tom
More beautiful views. [photo by Tom]
Weavers
Our first view of Weaver’s Needle.

The trail turns south, and the Terrapin Trail takes off to the right. We found some nice pools of water in Barks Canyon and then began the climb out. We got our first view of Weaver’s Needle, which is comprised of three separate spires or cones, unlike the more familiar view of a single cone with a triangular top. The views provided on this hike are spectacular with ridge line hoodoos, giant saguaros and deep valleys. We got back to the trailhead about 2:00 PM. The hike had taken us just under 6 hours.

Valley_Tom
Looking back at Coffee Flat. [photo by Tom]
food
Buffalo Wild Wings.

The clockwise group was not in sight and we could not reach them on the radios. Since we had met them when we were way more than half way around the loop, we expected to finish first. And we won. One carpool decided they did not want to go to lunch so they left.

Another carpool headed for Home Depot and then to Buffalo Wild Wings, where Tamar had pre-arranged with the manager to have a table set up for about 20 people. Tamar had ridden with someone from the other group, so she waited at the trailhead for them to return.

The four of us that went early to Buffalo Wild Wings were well into our lunch by the time the other group arrived. We got a photo of the full group before we departed for home.

Pictures from the clockwise group:

glorious_Ralph
What a glorious start! [photo by Ralph]
morning_Diva
Early morning in the wilderness. [photo by Diva]
cholla_Ralph
Watch out for that Teddy Bear cholla. [photo by Ralph]
Hoodoos
Hoodoos. [photo by Wendy]
Barks
Monika pauses by a reflective pool in Barks Canyon. [photo by Wendy]
Rugged
Rugged terrain in upper Barks Canyon. [photo by Wendy]
trek_Diva
Trailblazers on the Bluff Spring Trail. [photo by Diva]
weather
Enjoying the beautiful weather and hike. [photo by Ralph]
Running
What’s this? Running away from Weaver’s Needle? [photo by Wendy]
almost
Oh look, we’re almost finished. [photo by Wendy]

The hike was 9.1 miles long and took about 6 hours. Thanks to Michael for leading the clockwise group, and to Tamar for arranging the lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings. They accommodated us very well.

 →   More pictures, by Dale
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updated December 9, 2016