Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hike #18: Peralta/Cave Trail Loop, Superstition Wilderness

Length: 5.2 miles

The Peralta Trail is perhaps the most popular trail in the Superstition Wilderness, which when combined with the Cave Trail, makes for a spectacular loop hike that highlights the best the Superstitions Mountains have to offer.

From the busy parking lot, the loop begins by following the Peralta Trail through a lush green valley, which was quite the unexpected sight in the middle of the desert. After about a half-mile, however, the trail leaves the valley and begins a steady climb into the surrounding cliffs. For two-miles the trail creeps slowly up the mountain until suddenly making a turn and opening to a magnificent view of Weaver's Needle.

From this point, most people choose to turn around and retrace the Peralta Trail back to the parking lot. However, for the more adventurous, there is the somewhat longer (and much more difficult) Cave Trail. When first venturing onto the Cave Trail, the first thing one notices is the isolation; after the crowds of the Peralta Trail, the peace and quiet is almost startling.

Continuing along the Cave Trail is quite easy for the first mile; however, eventually the trail approaches a steep ridge, which you must somehow descend. Once at the bottom, the trail all but disappears. For the next mile, you must carefully follow the small cairns that mark the "trail" (and trust me this is not an easy thing to do...the terrain is extremely rough and many of the cairns are extraordinarily small and difficult to find!) I would not recommend taking this portion of the trail unless you feel very comfortable in your route finding skills (and preferably only in a group!)

Eventually, the Cave Trail does work its way down from the hard volcanic rocks into the more traditional desert, where the trail again becomes visible. From here, it is an easy trip back toward the Peralta trail and an easy exit.

To view more photos of the Peralta and Cave Trails, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the wonderful photographic tour of the of the Peralta Trail.