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Kim Smith | profile | all galleries >> Arizona Hikes & Drives - Chapter 7: Peralta Trailhead to First Water Trailhead tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

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Arizona Hikes & Drives - Chapter 7: Peralta Trailhead to First Water Trailhead

Depending on whose account you read on the various maps or online, the hike from Peralta Trailhead at the south end of the Superstition Mountains and First Water Trailhead at the north end, is 11.1 to 12.44 miles. After hiking the full length, I'd bet on the 12.44 miles. I began the hike at 7:30 a.m. on December 11th, arriving first at the Fremont saddle at 8:37, with numerous stops to take photos. The view of Weavers Needle is the major focus of the first half of this hike once you have reached the Fremont saddle, but it can be viewed throughout most of the hike, from various points along the trail. The trail from the Fremont saddle to the junction of the Peralta and Lost Dutchman trails is less frequented and not as obvious everywhere throughout the trail. It is narrower than the rest of the trails. That isn't to say that it is difficult to follow, but in a couple of minor instances, side trails diverted me from my planned route. The view of Weavers Needle as you pass by is quite stunning and though I knew that the "Needle" is made up of at least two spires and some other component structures, it is surprising how it isn't obvious from the north or south that this is not just one spire. I decided to do this hike from the south end, putting my energy into the significant elevation gain in the first 2.8 miles, then mostly "coasting" down in elevation toward First Water over the next 9 miles or so, with only a few elevation gains along the way. The other advantage is that the sun is at your back and there is no need to squint all day. Any worry that it would be difficult to identify the various connecting trails was without foundation as they are well signed and clear at the junctions. The Peralta trail drops down into the canyon junction with Lost Dutchman trail with attractive scenery in this area. Lunch was at the junction between Lost Dutchman and the Black Mesa trail, where I was inadvertently misdirected by some horseback riders onto the Black Mesa trail for about 10 minutes, before recognizing it and returning to the Lost Dutchman trail. Back on course, the trail was open and attractive scenery, but also a popular horse route. Toward the end of the trail, nearing First Water trailhead, my knees began to feel the pounding of the day, but I arrived at First Water by 2:15 p.m. I brought 1.7 litres of water, but on this mild day, only used 1 litre. In retrospect, I could have left Peralta at 7:00 a.m. if the day had been warmer. The maximum elevation gain is a bit under 1,400 feet along this route. I had planned for a 7 hour hike, but discounting about 20 minutes for lunch and about 25 minutes for taking pictures, the hike only took me about 6 hours. This is an excellent hike with awesome scenery, though my photos aren't intended as "artistic" and were taken on my Panasonic "point and shoot" camera... less weight to carry in the backpack on a longer hike than carrying the Nikon D300.
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