Dutchmans Trail - Black Mesa Loop, Superstition Wilderness: First Water Trailhead, Phoenix - Scottsdale - Mesa, Arizona

Dutchmans Trail - Black Mesa Loop - 9.3 miles

Superstition Wilderness: First Water Trailhead

Cobbled washes near the Lost Dutchman - Black Mesa Trail split

Cobbled washes near the Lost Dutchman - Black Mesa Trail split

Round-Trip Length: 9.3 miles
Start-End Elevation: 2,275' - 2,748' (max elevation)
Elevation Change: +473' net elevation gain (+1,229' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Dutchmans Trail - Black Mesa Loop - 9.3 Miles Round-Trip

The First Water Trailhead is the western gateway to the Superstition Wilderness. It accesses a network of trails that lead through a maze of canyons, washes, mesas and buttes in the backcountry.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The Dutchmans Trail, Black Mesa Trail and Second Water Trail form a moderate 9.3 mile loop highlighted by diverse vegetation and varied terrain throughout.

The following description begins on the Dutchmans Trail and travels counter-clockwise:

The Dutchmans Trail heads southeast to the Second Water Trail split and keeps right (.3 miles). It rises modestly on a variously rugged, undulating path lined by chain fruit cholla, palo verde, oak and mesquite.

The trail crosses seasonal pools in the central wash at 1.1 miles (2,329'), the first of several times on the gradual climb to Parker Pass (2.55 miles : 2,648'). Parker Pass offers great views over Boulder Canyon, and a fine turnaround point for those not completing the loop.

The trail drops ruggedly from Parker Pass with emerging view of Weavers Needle (3.5 miles : 2,525'). It crosses Little Boulder Canyon Creek (3.85 miles : 2,358') and levels to the Black Mesa Trail in a wide berth on the canyon floor (4.4 miles : 2,273').

The Black Mesa Trail turns NE across several cobbled washes then turns sharply uphill (4.6 miles). It climbs steeply to a bench (5.05 miles : 2,576'), and again to milder terrain on the upper mesa (5.6 miles : 2,652').

Grades level in a high flat just below the basalt cap of Black Mesa to the route's high point (6.2 miles : 2,748'). Basalt rock on this mesa is approximately 3 million years old, among the youngest in the Superstitions.

It continues NE on a steady descent with sweeping views across Garden Valley to the Second Water Trail (7.45 miles : 2,397'). The Second Water Trail turns SW and levels through the broad flats of Garden Valley, an ideal place to find jackrabbit and coyote.

It drops abruptly into a shallow canyon (7.75 miles : 2,337'), crosses a wash (8.25 miles) and rises back into the foothills. Note large concentrations of teddy bear cholla and barrel cactus on this final stretch.

The trail reaches the Dutchmans Trail to complete the loop (9.0 miles : 2,225'), and return you to the First Water Trailhead (9.3 miles).

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N33 28.808 W111 26.580 — 0.0 miles : First Water Trailhead
  • N33 28.644 W111 26.381 — .3 miles : Second Water - Dutchmans Trail split
  • N33 28.185 W111 25.930 — 1.1 miles : Cross left over seasonal pool (2,327')
  • N33 27.980 W111 25.740 — 1.5 miles : (2,391')
  • N33 27.717 W111 25.350 — 2.0 miles : Steady, moderate climb to pass
  • N33 27.456 W111 25.087 — 2.55 miles : Parker Pass (2,652')
  • N33 27.354 W111 24.699 — 3.0 miles : (2,534')
  • N33 27.491 W111 24.435 — 3.5 miles : Descent into Little Boulder Canyon
  • N33 27.456 W111 24.147 — 3.85 miles : Cross Little Boulder Canyon Creek (2,360')
  • N33 27.581 W111 23.828 — 4.25 miles : (2,310')
  • N33 27.613 W111 23.715 — 4.4 miles : Dutchmans - Black Mesa Trail split (2,295')
  • N33 28.031 W111 23.972 — 5.05 miles : Steep climb briefly levels (2,578')
  • N33 28.140 W111 24.347 — 5.6 miles : Travel moderates on upper mesa (2,653')
  • N33 28.311 W111 24.553 — 5.9 miles : Level travel across mesa top (2,693')
  • N33 28.469 W111 24.779 — 6.2 miles : Crest on mesa top in big clearing (2,748')
  • N33 28.919 W111 25.290 — 7.0 miles : Steady descent into Garden Valley
  • N33 29.150 W111 25.654 — 7.45 miles : Black Mesa - Second Water Trail split
  • N33 28.772 W111 25.684 — 8.0 miles : Brief drop through rugged canyon maze
  • N33 28.683 W111 25.927 — 8.5 miles : Rise from wash around cholla hillside
  • N33 28.820 W111 26.578 — 9.3 miles : First Water Trailhead

Worth Noting

  • Basalt is one of the most common rock types in the world. It's a dark, dense and magnetic rock of volcanic origin found throughout our solar system.

  • The Peralta family of northern Mexico reportedly discovered gold in the Superstitions sometime in the 1840s. According to legend, members of the Peralta expedition were attacked by Apaches, killing all but one or two family members who knew the exact location of the mines. Contemporary treasure seekers were unable to locate the mine, but rumors persisted and the legend of lost gold was born.

  • In the 1870s Jacob Waltz - The Dutchman (who was actually of German descent) - was said to have located the mine with the aid of a Peralta descendant. Waltz and his partner Jacob Weiser worked the mine and allegedly hid caches of ore in the Superstitions. Weiser was killed by Apaches, or according to some, by Waltz himself. Waltz died in 1891 before revealing the location of the gold. Subsequent efforts to locate the mine have failed, but the legend of the Lost Dutchmans gold lives on.

  • The First Water Trailhead sees heavy use, especially on weekends. Arrive early to secure parking and avoid crowds.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Dispersed camping is permitted in the Superstition Wilderness. No fee or permit is required.

  • Fires are not permitted on this loop, and in most locations on the west side of the wilderness area.

  • Camp only in established sites, which are not marked but intuitively found right along the trail, usually near a water source.

  • Water is seasonally available along the trail, but always plan on carrying all of your own water. Treat all natural water sources before consumption. Note that Water Reports are usually posted at the trailhead, but may not be current.

  • Contact the Mesa Ranger District (408.610.3300) for current trail information and potential restrictions before heading out.

  • Group size is limited to 15 individuals.

Rules and Regulations

  • There is no day-use fee to enter the Superstition Wilderness from this location.

Directions to Trailhead

The First Water Trailhead is located east of Mesa AZ in the Superstition Wilderness, just north of Lost Dutchman State Park.

The trailhead is located 9.9 miles north of Highway 60.

From Highway 60, take the 88 / North Idaho Road exit. Continue 2.2 miles to a fork and bear right. Continue past Lost Dutchman State Park (7.1 miles) to the turnoff for the First Water Trailhead on your right (7.3 miles). Follow signs to the trailhead (9.9 miles).

Note this final segment runs on a graded dirt road suitable for 2WD vehicles.

Contact Information

Superstition Wilderness
Mesa Ranger District
5140 E. Ingram St.
Mesa, Arizona 85205
Monday-Friday: 8 am - noon | 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Lost Dutchman State Park
6109 N. Apache Trail
Apache Junction, AZ 85119

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


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