4 Great Hikes in Arizona's Superstition Wilderness Area

This once volcanically charged area is now home to nearly 180 miles of adventurous hiking trails.EXPAND
This once volcanically charged area is now home to nearly 180 miles of adventurous hiking trails.
Sara Palmer

Encompassing more than 160,000 acres and roughly 180 miles of trail throughout, the once volcanically charged Superstition Wilderness Area provides a rugged and flourishing set of trails that will take you through canyons, around and over beaming pools of water, and to the tops of mountains for some spectacular views. Which is all to say: It offers up an amazing set of adventures, a historical sense of mystery, and an incredible display of flora and fauna in the metro Phoenix area.

Not sure where to start? Not to worry: Here are four great hikes that show off the diversity of this magnificent wilderness area.

Rocky water crossing of Hackberry Spring Loop. This trail highlights the immense diversity of the desert in a quick 5.5 mile loop.EXPAND
Rocky water crossing of Hackberry Spring Loop. This trail highlights the immense diversity of the desert in a quick 5.5 mile loop.
Sara Palmer

Hackberry Spring Loop
Distance: 5.5 miles
Level of Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate
Average Time: 3 hours

This hike begins at the First Water Trailhead, and presents a nice, easy path through the western part of the wilderness area. Don’t be misled by the degree of this hike: This trail highlights the immense diversity of the desert in a short five-and-a-half-mile loop. It starts with a quick water crossing, followed by a trek through a large meadow. The dirt trail becomes reddish in color, reminiscent of the Sedona red rocks, in an area is called Garden Valley. It will weave you through forests of cholla and mesquite trees.

The trail will then take you through rolling hills showcasing saguaro forests as far as the eye can see. You'll arrive at canyon walls striped in lime green, rusty brown, yellow, and orange hues, with deliberate charcoal seams that cut vertically down the walls. It's a visual reminder of the volcanic destruction that made this wilderness area what it is today. From there, you'll catch a glimpse of the creek as the trail takes you over smooth rock platforms holding pooling water alongside giant boulders and rocky creek beds. Pack some snacks or a lunch, and take time to enjoy the medley of terrain this loop offers.

Unbelievable view from the summit of Bluff Spring Mountain.EXPAND
Unbelievable view from the summit of Bluff Spring Mountain.
Sara Palmer

Bluff Spring Mountain Summit
Distance: 9.5 miles
Level of Difficulty: Intermediate
Average Time: 5-6 hours

This summit hike provides a great day trip while traversing the distinctively diverse terrain of the Western Superstitions. At just under 10 miles, this out-and-back hike begins at the Peralta Trailhead. Follow the sign to Bluff Spring Trail, and you're on your way. There will be a nice bit of elevation gain right from the start, offering up great views of Barkley Basin and lush wildflowers in the spring. Right around the halfway point, a perfect view of Miners Needle comes into sight. From here, you will continue upward until reaching a mesa, and straight ahead is your summit. You will need to cross the mesa first, though — keep on the lookout for cairns, as the trail tends to disappear and the low-lying cacti can make for a tricky crossing. From the base of the summit, you have a quick 300 feet until reaching the top. The summit views are unbelievable and will most likely have you feeling on top of the world.



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