This is an 11.5-mile loop in the Eastern Superstitions. The Second Water Trail #236
and Dutchman Trail #104
sections of this trail are excellent! The Boulder Canyon Section is extremely scenic, like the rest of this hike, but does present a bit of a challenge. Overall, this is a great adventure and sightseeing though.
Strongly recommend gaiters. Also recommend a water filter, such as a life straw, so that you don't have to carry as much with you. There are several water crossings, but you likely won't have to get your feet wet. Most are along Boulder Canyon Trail; one is on second water trail, and approximately 5 on Dutchman Trail. On Boulder Canyon Trail, keep an eye out for cairns to help you find the way.
Starting from First Water Trailhead and traveling clockwise on this loop, you'll hike along Second Water Trail, up a relatively easy climb and past Black Mesa Trail. There are a few spots on this loop that it seems as though the trail splits and part is unmarked. At all of these spots, one way is very obviously a trail and the other is questionable. Go with the obvious. The first of these instances is just after the junction with Black Mesa Trail #241
. Stay to the right on the Second Water Trail #236
, and you'll start to go down a really technical descent that ends at the Boulder Canyon Trail #103
. This is a nice spot to take a break or refill water if you need to. Take a right on Boulder Canyon, and you'll quickly come to the first of what will seem like a thousand water crossings. Look for the cairns to help guide the way.
I was here in August and the water was flowing well, so there is probably at least a little water most of the time. This section of the trail is extremely overgrown as well with lots of things that don't feel good when you touch them, like thorns and cacti. Being overgrown and close to water, I would guess that snakes would be here more often than many other places, but I didn't see any. At two spots, there were cacti completely across the trail. You've been warned.
So, after several water crossings (maybe 20?), you'll eventually find your way to the Dutchman Trail #104
. This trail is almost like a highway for the Superstitions. If you'd like to go longer or explore more, take a left. If you'd like to get back to the trailhead, take a right.
From here, it's about 4 miles with a moderate climb and a fun descent. I encountered a few spots with serious mud (I did this about 3 days after a heavy rainstorm), but it was easy to go around/over/through. This was super scenic. If you're not pressed for time, turn around and take a good look at Weavers Needle. After a few cool climbs (that are actually one continuous climb), you'll have a very long descent before you arrive back at the split that you encountered at the start of this hike, Second Water Trail #236
and Dutchman Trail #104
. Take a left and knock out the final short climb before you arrive back at the trailhead.