Black Top Mesa

Superstition Wilderness

The Quick Stats

Distance: 11.7. miles out & back

Elevation change: 1,981 ft

Type: Maintained trail

Restrooms at the Trailhead: yes

Water at the trailhead: no

Dogs allowed: yes

Parking lot: yes, moderate size with overflow parking

Hiker’s ledger: yes

Getting here

There are technically many ways to get to Black Top Mesa. We started form the First Water Trailhead off of First Water Rd or Service Road 78. The turn off from State Route 88 (The Apache Trail) is just north of the entrance to Lost Dutchman State Park. The road is dirt, but not in too bad of shape, capable for a sedan. There are some divots and rocks on the road, so as always, drive carefully.

You can also find the the trailhead called Dutchman Trailhead. The AllTrails map and location is linked here. Overall, this location is very easy to get to, it’s at the very end of the road. If the lot is full, there is an additional lot further back on the road where horse trailers can park. There is a short connecting trail from this lot to the main lot. Both have restrooms

The Hike

We have a love for the Superstition Wilderness that is hard to describe. There is something about the National Forest Wilderness area that makes us tingle. The landscape is so fascinating with too many saguaro cactuses to count, massive rock formations, canyons, creek beds, prickly pear cactus, wildlife, and so much more.

Starting from First Water, we began down Dutchman Trail #104. For the majority of the hike, you’ll stay on Dutchman Trail. However, there are a couple intersections. Soon after starting, you’ll see the trail fork left towards Second Water. There is signage, stay heading straight down Dutchman Trail. About 4 miles later, you’ll come across a series of trail intersections.

  • About 4.3 miles in, intersection with Black Mesa Trail #241 – stay heading straight on Dutchman trail
  • About 4.4 miles in, intersection with Boulder Canyon Trail #103 – stay heading straight on Dutchman Trail
  • About 4.5 miles, intersection with Bull Pass Trail #129 – TAKE BULL PASS TRAIL (left) east. Dutchman Trail turns right and heads south

Once you start on Bull Pass Trail #129, you’re at the base of Black Top Mesa. At this point you’ll notice the elevation start to steadily increase. At the saddle point, you’ll find another trail intersection. Take the trail that heads (right) up the mesa. Bull Pass Trail continues heading east. The elevation rapidly inclines, about 1,000 feet in 1 mile, hovering around a 25% grade. The “black” in Black Top Mesa starts to become more and more relevant. It’s absolutely gorgeous! Green cactus contrast with massive basalt boulders made from volcano activity millions of years ago. After an eruption that likely created the current day Superstitions, lava, rich with in magnesium and iron at the surface cooled rapidly

Once you reach the top, catch your breath, take a look back at Boulder Canyon and Le Barge Canyon, then continue south. Follow the trail and you’ll see spots for backpack camping along the way. As you continue, you’ll see Weaver’s Needle stabbing the the skyline in all its magnificence. At the edge you’ll see Dutchman Trail below, and it’s intersections with Peralta Trail #102 and Terrapin Trial #234.

Unfortunately, there was a lot of fire damage within the Superstition Wilderness from a rough summer of wildfires. It was so sad to see burnt trees, shrubs, and Saguaros. However, we have faith in mother nature’s ability to heal and recover. We saw new life making its way out the ground as the desert rehabilitates.

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