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First Water (Black Mesa to Dutchman Loop)

Saguaro in the Superstitions
elevation plot: Black mesa loop
map: Black mesa loop
hikers along the Black mesa loop trail
Weavers needle in the distance
Along the Black mesa trail


How to Get There
From the Phoenix area, take US-60 East, leaving the city limits. Take the HWY-88 exit (Idaho Road). About 5.5 miles after leaving Apache Junction, turn on to First Water Road (FR 78). The signed turn-off is between mile marker 201 and 202. Continue a little over 2 miles to the trailhead. There is no longer a fee to park and the parking area has a restroom (but no water).
Apache Junction
Superstition and Mazatzal Wilderness

Hike details

9.10 [Miles] Total
Hike Distance- Details
9.1 miles round trip for the loop hike described.
4.00 [Hours]
It took us four hours and thirty minutes to do this lollypop loop hike (with a 15 minute stop for lunch)
Elevation Change
1,350 Total gain/loss [Feet]
Elevation Loss
800 Total Elevation Loss[Feet]
Elevation Gain
750 Total Elevation Gain [Feet]
Hike Trail Type
Lollypop Loop
Special Features
Wild Flowers
Rating details
This is an especially nice hike during wildflower season (spring)


Best Season
  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • October
  • November
  • December
Worst Season
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
Season Details
You can take this hike in the summer if you start very early. Best season is in spring when the wildflowers are out or after a rain (when the desert washes have running water in them).
Date Hike completed
January 14, 2012


Solitude Details
First Water is a very popular trailhead so expect to share this hike with 20-30 other people.


Difficulty Rating
difficulty detail
The hiking is relatively flat and the route finding is made easier with the signed trail junctions. This is a Moderate difficulty hike.


Skills Detail
Bring plenty of water, as there is none available at the trailhead.


Permit Info
No permits needed
Be Aware of
route finding

Loop hike from the First Water trail on the Black mesa trail and the Dutchman trail in the Superstition Wilderness, Arizona.

The first water trailhead leads to a signed fork after about 0.2 miles of hiking. Stay left here for the second water trail. After about 1.4 miles, this trail forks again. Taking a RIGHT at the signed second fork, will put you on the Black Mesa Trailhead. This trail winds through the desert, through a cool Cholla forest, finally reaching a great view of Weavers Needle. This area is known as Garden Valley.

After about four miles of hiking, you will cross a wash and will need to start looking for the Dutchman trail, which will be our return path. The trail back to the South and East is after you cross the first wash, but before you cross the second wash. While it's signed, it's a little tricky to find. If you find yourself continuing toward weaver's needle after crossing the two washes, then you've missed it.

The Dutchman trail returns to your parking area via Boulder basin and Parker pass. After four miles, more cool rock formations, and easy walking takes you back to the start.

If you wanted to, you can also take this hike in the reverse direction, starting on the Dutchman trail (bear right at the first fork) and then return via the Black Mesa Trail.


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