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Bluff Spring Loop Day Hike
Superstition Mountains
February 7, 1999
by Jeannie Van Lew

We were met at the Peralta Trailhead by the Tonto National Forest ranger. After our group assembled the ranger gave a short talk on the Superstition Wilderness, the importance of staying on the trail and the care required while sharing the trail with horses. We handed out the radios and maps, took our group shot and were on our way by 9:00. Those attending were: Tom and Jeannie Van Lew, Kim Gibson, Kenn Wright, Mike DiPiazza, Chuck Parsons, Tim Reasoner, Nancy Black, Paul Garbutt and Adam Black, Mark Bockmann, Chuck and Peggy Giovanniello, Tony Gundon, Ben Velasquez, Ron Giffin and Tom Squire.

We followed the Peralta trail until we met the signs for the Bluff Spring Trail and Dutchman’s Trail. We turned right, following the Dutchman’s Trail. We climbed a few hundred feet, turned east around the hill and were soon out of sight of the parking lot and signs of civilization. After 15 minutes or so on the trail, we came around another bend, which opened up to the Coffee Flat desert valley. A very picturesque and inspiring panorama. We saw many rock formations near and in the distance, using our imagination to see pigs, seals and even a man sitting on a throne (we shan’t ask what throne that was, however!). The trail crosses a small wash, while not running it was still damp from the recent rain.

All too soon we turned and began our climb up the west side of Miners Canyon. Our view of the Needle from this perspective, appeared quite imposing with its sheer rock face. We could see some climbers on the small saddle on top of Miners Needle and were impressed to see them up there. Once we arrived near Miners Summit, some of us made a short detour opting to get a closer view of the Needle, where we discovered the north side has a shallow slope reaching toward the final rock formation. We returned to the trail and caught up with the rest of the group who had waited at the saddle where Dutchman’s Trail meets the Whiskey Spring Trail.

Miners Needle
Barks Canyon

We had been told Bluff Spring was a short 20 minutes from there. Good thing we are never surprised by how long 20 minutes is for us compared to other people! After a few minutes hiking down the trail from the saddle, however, we could see Weaver’s Needle to the west as it peaked above the mountains ahead of us. Along this portion of the trail was an impressive grove of Cholla cactus, some of which were over 6 feet tall! Across the wash, we met the Bluff Spring Trail and seeing shade from the trees in the wash we decided to stop for lunch. Another group had already had the same idea so we moved down the wash a bit further.

The Bluff Spring Trail crosses the wash several times from this point, but cairns have been placed to help mark the way. After leaving the wash, we again got a view of Weaver’s Needle. Coming around yet another bend, a canyon opened up to us and we found an expansive boulder wash.

We met a group of backpackers who were resting there. They told us they were students from Massachusetts and had been backpacking in the Superstitions for the last eight days! The rest of the hike, we played leapfrog with them.

We continued on the Bluff Spring trail, climbing up the side of the canyon until we got our first glimpse of the parking lot several hundred feet below and another impressive vista of Coffee Flat Valley. The trail was steep and rocky in places the rest of the way, but soon Peralta Canyon came into sight and the parking lot was just steps away! We arrived back to our cars about 2:30 PM.

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updated July 30, 2012