Only in Arizona can you step out into a backcountry mountain wilderness purely surreal in natural beauty and also deeply rich in mystery, legend and lore with tales of lost gold, Indian massacres and even murder! Located just 40 miles outside the Phoenix metro area, lies the Superstition Wilderness, an area of approximately 160,000 acres, where in its more popular western section, you'll find some of the most incredible scenery and landmarks in the entire state and region that are simply captivating and mesmerizing! While temperatures in the Sonoran Desert are relatively low, the pleasant sunny days of the winter and early spring months are an ideal time to get out and explore the “Supes”, as they are commonly called, and through its four main paths you'll connect to a vast network of the some of the state's best hiking trails. So if you're up for taking an extra boulder hopping, creek crossing, and captivating journey to a magnificent, hidden rock wall canyon and oasis, then I highly recommend you check out the La Barge Canyon Adventure Hike, in the Superstition Wilderness, Arizona .
On a beautiful, sunny morning, in early February, from Apache Junction, east of Phoenix, we followed Route 88, also known as the “Apache Trail” for about 14 miles until we arrived at the beautiful and popular Canyon Lake where we pilled up to the Canyon Lake Marina, parked in the large parking area, some of which was set aside just for hikers, and after getting all of our packs and gear together, we were ready for what we all knew was going to be an amazing and incredible adventure!
It was by 9 am, that we crossed the road and began our hike on the Boulder Canyon Trail, # 103. From the trailhead, at a starting elevation of 1702 feet, our journey began with gorgeous views of Canyon Lake behind us as we moderately began ascending in elevation out into the rugged Superstition Wilderness.
Starting out on the Boulder Canyon Trail, it's not hard to see why this well known trail in the Superstitions is so popular because as the scenic views of Canyon Lake began disappearing in the background, it was only a little over a mile that we had reached the top of the hill and what we saw was really astounding! There from the top of the hill we had arrived at a spectacular panoramic view of the entire area including the overwhelming Battleship Mountain to the right, Geronimo's Head to the left and the infamous Weaver's Needle in the far off distance! Absolutely breathtaking!
After a brief stop for pictures, the amazing journey continued as we continued following the Boulder Canyon Trail for several miles as it now ventured over to the left then began a moderate descent back down in elevation with amazing, panoramic scenery all around that was gorgeous until after rough 3.5 miles later, we had reached the bottom of the hill and arrived at La Barge Creek.
From the edge of La Barge Creek, the real adventure began as we departed from Boulder Canyon Trail and dropped down into the creek to begin a long and very rigid boulder hopping, creek crossing journey further out into the remote Superstition Wilderness. Please be advised that you DO NOT want to attempt this hike after a major rain storm as La Barge Creek can be potentially dangerous due to high water levels and possible flash flooding. However, on this temperate early February day, the creek was flowing lightly and gently as we made our way along, crossing from side to side, and with a little light route finding, and some bushwhacking, we pushed past the massive Battleship Mountain, and Geronimo's Head, until multiple miles later, off in the near distance in front of us, we identified the sharp pyramid shaped rock cliff, almost hoo doo like in formation which signified the entrance to our day's ultimate destination, La Barge Canyon!
It was by 1:30 pm with a total hiking distance of 7.89 miles from Boulder Canyon Trailhead that we finally arrived at the entrance to the “La Barge Box”, and after scrambling and climbing over some large rocks and boulders, we ventured to the left a short ways, and finding ourselves completely surrounded and framed by beautiful, and incredibly tall sheer rock walls, we rounded the bend, looked up and there was it, La Barge Canyon and it was magnificent! As we made our way into the canyon, I was completely taken back in awe and amazement. What a truly majestic place, a real hidden jewel with a mesmerizing beauty that's just just surreal. Absolutely extraordinary!
We thoroughly enjoyed spending some time together in this unbelievably pristine and remarkable oasis and despite the canyon's pools of water were too low for a swim, its stream was gently flowing with a beautiful running waterfall. However, after a short, relaxing lunch break and some more pictures together, it was time to start heading back out of the canyon again and through retracing our steps, back the same way we had come in we regretably left this awe-inspiring place.
Now having returned again to the entrance of La Barge Canyon, our amazing adventure continued as instead of retracing our steps and returning back the same way we came, using a little route finding, we identified a use trail marked with occasional cairns which ventured to the left and straight up to top of the hill then flattened out into a saddle area affording beautiful and expansive views of the Superstition Ridgeline and Weaver's Needle in the distance. From this saddle area, located to the south of Battleship Mountain, we made a short trek over to the rock wall base of the Battleship to see if we could attempt a climb to the top. However, with the mid-afternoon sun well upon us now and it starting to get late, we decided to retrace our steps back to the saddle again, where from there we picked up back with the use trail to make a steep decent back down in elevation again.
Once coming down at the creek's bottom, it was now roughly around 3pm that our loop journey and return began with another boulder hopping, creek crossing journey, criss-crossing it from side to side until we picked up the Second Water Trail over to the left , then just a short ways further, we returned back to the Boulder Canyon Trail. Once back on Boulder Canyon Trail, and now feeling fatigue starting to set in as a result of the day's long and strenuous journey, we ventured on, traversed it past an old abandoned mining shaft, then climbed back up in elevation again, at the same time being sure to look back as much as we possible could at the absolutely gorgeous and breath-taking scenery along the way. It was now with the sun now beginning to set and dusk quickly coming down upon us that we not aware we had come back into view of the beautiful canyon lake again and while still enjoying the amazing scenery now with a great view of Four Peaks in the fart distance, we made our way down this final stretch of rocky trail and made it back to the Boulder Canyon Trailhead again where we joined the rest of our group at Canyon Lake Marina, finishing out this day's incredible journey with a total roundtrip hiking distance of 13.4 miles, and an accumulated elevation gain of 2000 feet, which we completed 9.0 hours.
In all, what an unforgettable day and a spectacular adventure! As most write-ups accurately describe, this exceptional hiking journey out into the remote and rugged Superstition Wilderness, really does have it all complete with mesmerizing scenery literally from start to finish of some of the Supes most famous landmarks, but also for those who are willing to take on the challenge of taking it off trail, this amazing journey will lead you out to a remote and hidden canyon that's beauty is just simply captivating! So if you're up for taking an extra boulder hopping, creek crossing, and incredible journey to a majestic, hidden rock wall canyon and oasis, then be sure to check out the La Barge Canyon Adventure Hike, in the Superstition Wilderness, Arizona.