Bluff Spring - Dutchmans Loop, Superstition Wilderness: Peralta Trailhead, Phoenix - Scottsdale - Mesa, Arizona
Bluff Spring - Dutchmans Loop - 9.35 miles
Superstition Wilderness: Peralta Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||9.35 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||2,395' - 3,247' (max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+852' net elevation gain (+1,645' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Bluff Spring - Dutchmans Loop - 9.35 Miles Round-Trip
The Bluff Spring Trail and Dutchmans Trail form a moderate 9.35 mile loop through canyons, washes and bajadas of the Superstition Wilderness.
Visitors will enjoy diverse terrain with magnificent views over Coffee Flat and Barkley Basin. The following description begins on the Bluff Spring Trail and travels clockwise:
Follow signs from Peralta Trailhead to the Bluff Spring - Dutchmans Trail split to begin the loop (.05 miles). Bear left on the Bluff Spring Trail, which climbs 518' in just .65 miles to a ridge with views over Barkley Basin and up Peralta Canyon. Teddy bear cholla and ocotillo are particularly abundant on this stretch.
Grades moderate from 1 - 1.5 miles with emerging views of Weavers Needle and the rugged backcountry. At 1.5 miles (2,844') the trail drops into a wash and slips through a narrow, cairn-marked slot (1.65 miles).
It emerges from the slot (1.72 miles) and crosses three cobbled wash braids to the east side of the canyon (2.0 miles : 2,902').
Here travel clarifies up to a crest with great views of the needle (2.3 miles), then drops to the Bluff Spring - Terrapin Trail split in a wide berth on the canyon floor. (2.4 miles : 3,137').
The Bluff Spring Trail wraps east on a level path into Bluff Spring Canyon, just above the central wash. Yucca, grasses and scrub replace diverse cacti gardens on this drier segment.
Travel quickens on the canyon floor to a wash crossing (left) meant to circumvent a large boulder (3.1 miles : 3,058'). The trail is somewhat vague once past the boulder, but eventually clarifies on the left (north) side of the wash to the Bluff Spring - Dutchmans Trail split (3.5 miles : 2,985').
The Dutchmans Trail bends SE and remains level on the wide canyon floor. Small plots of juniper, mesquite and oak dot this otherwise sparsely vegetated area.
At 4.5 miles (3,092') the grade steepens up to the Dutchmans - Whiskey Spring Trail split, the route's highest point (4.95 miles : 3,247').
This junction is located on a saddle just below Miners Peak (3,516') with a terrific look at Miners Needle (3,648'), and across Barkley Basin.
The trail drops into Miners Canyon on a steep, rocky descent to the Dutchmans - Coffee Flat Trail split in the upper bajada (6.6 miles : 2,585').
These richer soil beds, infused with alluvium washed down from the mountains, support a notably abundant collection of cholla, saguaro, ocotillo, barrel cactus, mesquite and palo verde.
The Dutchmans Trail curls west on rolling, mild grades through the bajada with a net descent to a major wash (8.3 miles : 2,348'). It crosses over and rises up the east wall of Peralta Canyon (9.0 miles : 2,538'), where it drops back to the parking lot to complete the loop (9.35 miles).
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N33 23.858 W111 20.873 — 0.0 mies : Peralta Trailhead
- N33 24.114 W111 20.754 — .5 miles : Steep climb moderates at .65 miles
- N33 24.412 W111 20.667 — 1.0 miles : Grade level on high ridge with good views
- N33 24.725 W111 20.847 — 1.5 miles : Drop into wash
- N33 24.820 W111 20.910 — 1.64 miles : Enter canyon-slot
- N33 25.063 W111 20.936 — 2.0 miles : Travel clarifies up east side of canyon
- N33 25.349 W111 21.021 — 2.4 miles : Bluff Spring - Terrapin Trail split (3,137')
- N33 25.333 W111 20.464 — 3.1 miles : Cross wash left to avoid boulder (3,058')
- N33 25.406 W111 20.105 — 3.5 miles : Bluff Spring - Dutchmans Trail split
- N33 25.313 W111 19.744 — 4.0 miles : Level travel in low-walled canyon
- N33 25.127 W111 19.424 — 4.5 miles : Begin climb to Whiskey Spring split (3,092')
- N33 24.878 W111 19.281 — 4.95 miles : Whiskey Spring Trail split (3,247')
- N33 24.767 W111 19.195 — 5.5 miles : Steep, rugged descent from saddle
- N33 24.497 W111 18.929 — 6.0 miles : Diverse vegetation emerges in upper bajada
- N33 24.321 W111 18.969 — 6.6 miles : Coffee Flat Trail split (2,585')
- N33 24.263 W111 19.288 — 7.0 miles : Rolling travel across bajada
- N33 24.118 W111 19.910 — 7.75 miles : Rolling travel across bajada
- N33 23.926 W111 20.261 — 8.3 miles : Cross wash, begin climb (2,348')
- N33 23.858 W111 20.873 — 9.35 miles : Peralta Trailhead
- The portion of the Dutchmans Trail that runs through the bajada is a particularly good place to see spring flowers and look for wildlife.
- The Peralta 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 Peralta Trailhead is located east of Mesa AZ in the Superstition Wilderness, 7.3 miles north of Highway 60 (Superstition Highway) on Peralta Road.
Exit Highway 60 just past mile marker 204 onto Peralta Road, and follow this up to the trailhead.
Note the road turns to groomed dirt .9 miles from the turnoff, but is suitable for 2WD cars. The road forks suddenly after 5.5 miles - keep left. You'll pass the Lost Goldmine Trailhead (6.9 miles) before reaching the Peralta Trailhead (7.3 miles).
Mesa Ranger District
5140 E. Ingram St.
Mesa, Arizona 85205
Monday-Friday: 8 am - noon | 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm