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Second Water/Black Mesa/Dutchman Loop

  4.8 ( 9 ) Favorite


9.3 mile 14.9 kilometer loop


Ascent: 994' 303 m
Descent: -994' -303 m
High: 2,753' 839 m
Low: 2,228' 679 m


Avg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 21% (12°)


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Trail shared by Amy White

A scenic and easily accessible introduction to the Superstition Mountain Wilderness area.

Amy White

Features Birding · Views


The trail connects three popular trails in the First Water trailhead area to form a nice loop. There is not significant elevation gained or lost, but the trail is quite rocky in places which makes it more difficult for hiking. Keep your eyes out for a rare crested saguaro cacti along the trail!

Need to Know

There was water running in the creeks near the junction of the Black Mesa Trail and Dutchman Trail when I completed the route in January, but plan on bringing enough water for the full hike or call ahead to the ranger's station to check on the availability of water on the trail before you go. Always use a water purification method such as a filter or iodine before drinking the water.


Start out from the First Water Trailhead. The trailhead is very popular on weekends so come early or visit on a weekday if you can. There is overflow parking in the horse trailer parking area, but even this can fill on popular days.

Sign in on the trail registration form at the trailhead and start down the trail. At the first junction go left onto the Second Water Trail #236. The trail will cross a (probably) dry creek bed and then start climbing towards Garden Valley - a large flat mesa covered in cholla cacti and mesquite trees.

After gaining the mesa top, you'll reach a junction with the Black Mesa Trail #241. Follow the Black Mesa Trail to the right as you begin to climb through the valley. From mile 3 to 4, the trail becomes quite rocky and difficult to hike as you make your way to the highest point on the loop. It is manageable for those with quick reflexes, good balance, and endurance but for the rest of us it's a nice chance to slow down and enjoy the scenery.

The climb will end on another plateau with magnificent views into the heart of the Superstition Mountains. The trail quickly begins making its way back down into the valley on another section of very rocky trail from approximately mile 4 to 5. At the bottom of the valley, the trail crosses a few streams with running water (at least during the winter season). Watch for the cairns (or stacked rock piles) that mark the trail.

After crossing the streams, you'll come to the junction with the Dutchman Trail #104. Go right onto Dutchman Trail and begin making your way up Parker's Pass. The Dutchman Trail is far less rocky than Black Mesa and much easier to hike. Be sure to stop and admire the 360-degree view from the top of the pass.

The remainder of the trail makes its way through a valley with steep hills on either side which provide some much appreciated shade. You'll also cross a few (seasonal?) creeks along the way. When you reach the junction with the Second Water Trail at the end of the loop, take a left to return to the trailhead. Don't forget to log back in at the trailhead register!

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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Flora & Fauna, History & Background


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Feb 23, 2019
Lisa J
One of my favorite hikes thus far!
Feb 1, 2019
Chris Stewart
Jan 26, 2019
Laremy Janecek
Jan 5, 2019
Ashton Winfree
Dec 25, 2017
Ken Urakawa
Dec 23, 2017
Linda R
Great views of the mountains. Easy hiking despite rocky trail of n places 9.2mi
Nov 26, 2017
Leslie Ringler
Oct 21, 2017
Brandon Skalsky

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 9 votes


  4.8 from 9 votes
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in Arizona


38 Views Last Month
3,928 Since Jan 8, 2017



It's a gorgeous view from the top of the Black Mesa Trail.
Jan 8, 2017 near Apache…, AZ
A centuries-old saguaro graces this view into the heart of the Superstitions.
Jan 8, 2017 near Apache…, AZ
This creek crossing is often shallow, but come the rain it can be a site of flooding.
Jan 8, 2017 near Apache…, AZ
Often there can be great campsites along the Black Mesa Trail.
Apr 26, 2017 near Apache…, AZ
Enjoy expansive views from the Black Mesa Trail - Dutchman Trail junction
Apr 26, 2017 near Apache…, AZ
The Second Water Trail traverses gorgeous country in the Superstition Wilderness.
Apr 26, 2017 near Apache…, AZ


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