Black Top Mesa via Dutchman's Trail #104

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Black Top Mesa via Dutchman's Trail #104

Hiking Trail

Black Top Mesa via Dutchman's Trail #104

by: Honza
Location:  Apache Junction, AZ          Longitude:  -111.4431    Latitude:  33.4800
A challenging but extremely rewarding hike through the spectacular Superstition wilderness.
Features and Interests:   Weaver's Needle; one of the best trails near Phoenix.
Flora/Fauna on this Trail:
  Saguaro  Saguaro
This trail has it all: amazing views, stream crossings, mountain ascents (over 2300ft gain), wildflowers, panorama galore, grasslands, iconic points of interest... we went after the heavy rains of March 2013 and all the streams were full of water!

There are 2 possible ways to reach the Black Top Mesa via this loop: taking the Dutchman's Trail #104 or the Second Water Trail #236. Personally, I believe the Dutchman's Trail is much more magnificent, so make a right at the first trail junction (about 0.3 miles in).

Along the Dutchman Trail, you will wind through valleys, washes, smaller canyons, crossing the streams quite a few times. After a few rains, the desert transforms from a bone dry environment to a luscious, green marvel with wildflowers and riparian areas...stunning! After about 2 miles, you will reach a pass which gradually descends into a valley, intersecting the Black Mesa Trail #241 in about a mile.

At this junction, take a small break and enjoy the views (although I must say it does get traffic). Afterwards, continue on Dutchman's Trail for another 1/2 mile until you reach the Bull Pass Trail #129. Make a left at this junction. From this point the trail gets quite tough with about 1100ft elevation change in just over 1 mile. You will first ascend the wash/valley to the north of Black Mesa for about 1/2 mile. Once you reach the pass, look for an unmarked trail leading off to the right towards the Black Mesa. Endure this last, 1/2 mile, steep climb to the Mesa and you will be rewarded with a completely changed landscape of grasslands, prickly pear cacti and breath taking views for Weaver's Needle and 360 degree panorama.

If you ever decide to leave :-), go back the same way you came up.

Once you reach the Black Mesa Trail and Dutchman's Trail junction, you can either take the Dutchman's Trail back the same way or complete the loop by taking the Black Mesa Trail. Taking the Black Mesa Trail right, you will do a final but painful pass ascent. Once at the top, however, it's practically all downhill! After about 3 miles on Black Mesa Trail, make a left onto the Second Water Trail which intersects the Dutchman's trail in just over a mile, finishing our loop!
Trail Distance:  12.3 miles round-trip
Elevation:  2219ft - 3326ft   (change 1107ft)
Trail Difficutly:  Difficult - good physical fitness is a must, large elevation changes
How Crowded:  Occassional passing
Season:  September to May
Accomodations: (on site)   Toilets  WaterFrom the I-10 East, take the US-60 east for 24 miles. Take the AZ-88 exit north, after 2.3 miles merge onto AZ-88/Apache Trail right. After 5.2 miles, take the 1st Water Rd, unpaved road for 2.5 miles to the trailhead parking.Good dirt road, off-road vehicle not needed.
Boulder Canyon Trail #103   -   Difficult : 7.8 miles long : 1680ft to 2358ft (change 678ft)
Saguaro Lake - Butcher Jones Trail   -   Easy : 6 miles long : 1550ft to 1650ft (change 100ft)
Bluff Spring Canyon Trail #235 via Dutchman's Trail #104   -   Difficult : 9.4 miles long : 2358ft to 3256ft (change 898ft)
Peralta Trail #120 Weaver's Needle   -   Moderate : 4.6 miles long : 2400ft to 3760ft (change 1360ft)
Trail Ratings and Comments