This is a counterclockwise loop that meanders around a formation known as the Miners Needle in the Superstition Wilderness, with views of mountains and Sonoran desert.
Bring water. Although there are creeks and springs along the way, don't count on them. Hat and sunscreen are a must. This is a popular trail on weekends so be prepared to see many people on the trail. The road in is dirt but flat and groomed for any vehicle except during or right after a rainstorm when washes across the road during this time make it impassable for 2WD low clearance vehicles.
We started this counterclockwise loop trail from the Carney Springs Trailhead due to the high volume of other visitors at the Peralta Trailhead parking lot, but the easiest way to access the trails in the area is from the Peralta Trailhead. The hike from the lower parking areas can add 2 miles to the entire loop. Don't be disheartened when you see the masses of cars on a weekend day. It appeared that many of the people were choosing the Peralta Canyon Trail
. When you start counterclockwise you have a more gradual climb up followed by a steep descent back to the trailhead. In talking to a ranger, I found that most people opt to go clockwise and get the steep part over first, as the steep descent on the rocky surface isn't the easiest on the joints.
We started our outing on a Saturday afternoon one week after a big rain in the valley. We ran into lots of water including a small creek to cross within the first 100 yards. There is a small ascent and then a descent into a broad open plain with hundreds of healthy looking Saguaro Cactus, a few ocotillo and barrel cactus. The trip is named for the Miners Needle, a geologic landmark with a hole in it but really there are many similar landmarks that are just as impressive, and you'll enjoy views of them from the start.
To start, you'll take the Dutchman Trail #104
going to the right, and you'll work your way around to and then around the Miners Needle. Near the actual formation, you'll come to a junction with another trail diverting to Whiskey Springs but continue on the Dutchman Trail. At an intersection with the Bluff Springs Trail #235
, take a left (west) turn, and move onto that trail.
At this time of the year and after the rainfall, we saw lots of water seeping off the high mountain rocks. Springs and creeks either have water or are very damp. You now begin an almost constant contact with water flowing besides you or right under your feet, again after this rain a week before. It was pretty impressive for being in the desert. We stopped on Bluff Springs Creek for a break and a to have bite to eat. I pulled out my water filter and enjoyed some of the water. It was refreshingly very cold and had a taste to it that was pleasant. Summer or late spring visitors shouldn't expect these water resources to linger into the warmer months. Here we saw a few backpackers out on a one night trip. We scouted some campsites in this general area. They are near the trail and not very sheltered, but each is relatively flat with built up fire rings.
You next will cross the creek multiple times, again this was during a time when there was a lot of water. During the dry season I imagine this would be a different experience.
You'll start a general descent to the trailhead, and when you parallel the Peralta Canyon Trail
you'll get a great view of the canyon and, in our case, the dozens of visitors on that trail.
You end this loop with a very steep and rocky descent to the trailhead. Be careful and take your time as it is easy to turn an ankle.
Saguaro, barrel, prickly pear, ocotillo cactus, Harris hawk, roadrunner.
The Lost Dutchman Mine is located on this loop, providing a scenic (and tangible) spot to admire Arizona's mining history.