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Bluff Spring Loop Day Hike
Superstition Mountains
February 23, 2013
by Dave French
  Trail Map 
Trailblazers pass muster at Miners Summit. [photo by Dave]
Dave, Gary, Jim, Becky, Ted, Lance, Michael, Quy, Jim, Kevin, Ajay.

The Bluff Spring Loop in the Superstition Wilderness is a very popular hike and one that the club has done several times, most recently in 2010. Today, eleven hikers were very fortunate to choose a beautiful day to make this hike, some for the second or more times. It was the first time for this trip leader. We arrived at the Peralta Trailhead before 8 AM and began the hike in bright sunshine and a crisp 40 degrees.

This way, it’s all uphill to the Cave Trail Junction. [photo by Quy]

Prior to the hike, Cyd had planned to go and insisted that we go clockwise on the Bluff Spring Trail and return on the Dutchman’s Trail. She said the steep climb from the parking lot should be done first. Even though Cyd had to cancel out of the hike, we decided to follow her advice, and I am very glad we did. The thought of going down that steep grade with very high stair steps after 8 miles of hiking is daunting to this somewhat mature hiker.

Peralta Canyon is that-a-way. [photo by Dave]
What? You mean we’re only halfway up there? [photo by Dave]
    We quickly climbed out of the trailhead parking lot and continued upward for almost an hour before we reached to summit. The trail was wet in many places from the rain and snow that had fallen just three days before. We could see snow near the top of the mountains to the south and saw several patches of snow adjacent to the trail as we neared the point where the trail turned eastward to eventually join the Dutchman’s trail.

We could see water in Bark’s Canyon below us and eventually descended to the creek level and walked along the creek for a ways. All the washes we crossed had water flowing, and water was seeping from some rock outcroppings.

Life in the desert – water flows freely in lower Bark’s Canyon. [photo by Quy]
IMG_2580_455 IMG_2581_455
Arches grace our approach to Bark’s Canyon. [photos by Ted]
Geronimo Cave is on the other side of that ridge.
Hoodoos and saguaros salute Weaver’s Needle from Bark’s Canyon.
We didn’t miss the turn at the stream crossing. [photo by Dave]
Plenty of water flowing as we cross Bark’s Canyon. [photo by Ted]

We reached the junction with the Dutchman’s Trail about 10:30 AM. Here we took a break, let the entire group re-gather and had a snack.

At the trail junction sign, we made a sharp turn to the right to go down across the creek and follow the Dutchman’s Trail to the southeast.

If not paying attention, you might inadvertently go directly onto the Dutchman’s Trail that would take you east and north and a day or so later to the First Water Trailhead on the north side of the Wilderness.

Taking a break where the Bluff Spring Trail ends at the Dutchman’s Trail. [photo by Ted]

Traveling on the Dutchman’s Trail, we encountered some cholla forest and other desert vegetation. We continued for about a mile and a half from the trail junction to the summit at Miners Needle.

We had lunch and took the group photo and met numerous hiking groups that were proceeding northward on the Dutchman’s Trail. There were a couple of large Boy Scout Troops on backpacking expeditions.

From the Miners Needle we began our descent into Miners Canyon. The weather had warmed to the mid 60s and was very pleasant despite the absence of shade along the 4.3 miles back to the trailhead. Spring is arriving in the desert with green grass everywhere, the foliage looking very healthy and vigorous, and the first spring wildflowers blooming. Given the good winter rains this year, I expect the wildflower show to be spectacular in about two weeks or less.

Rounding the bend over Miners Canyon and Coffee Flat. [photo by Dave]
Papa Bear waves from atop Cathedral Rock as Junior Bear looks on from the right. [photo by Ted]
Snow, and the eye of Miners Needle. [photos by Dave]
Where’s our leader?
Saguaros and Teddy Bears under the watchful eye of Miners Needle. [photo by Ted]
The Dutchman’s Trail takes through a forest of chain-fruit cholla. [photo by Quy]

Ted looks for unusual sights:
Easter Island statues on Cardiac Hill.
Duck Rock
The Emperor’s Baboon.
The Great Stone Lizard.
IMG_2668_455 IMG_2690_455
We found gold!    Poppies and brittlebush brighten the Dutchman’s Trail.
Butterfly wears active duty insignia.
A rolling moss gathers no stone.
Paraglider takes a flying leap off the Dacite Cliffs. [photo by Ted]

We arrived back at the trailhead between 2 and 3 PM. After 9.1 miles of hiking the parking lot looked most welcome. As we were departing the trailhead parking area, we spotted a base jumper descending via parachute.

We returned to our meeting place in the Home Depot parking lot so everyone could get their own car and those that wanted to, ventured across the street for well-deserved food and drink at Old Chicago Restaurant.

Trailblazers re-convene at Old Chicago.
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated February 26, 2013