Circumnavigate the most prominent natural feature of Arizona’s Superstition Wilderness with this moderate day hike.
Trail Guide: Weavers Needle Loop from Peralta Trailhead
Please Note: The Superstition Wilderness was dramatically altered by the Woodbury Fire in 2019. According to this map, it looks as though this hike may have been spared. All images on this page were shot in 2010.
MAP: Trails Illustrated
PERMITS/DESIGNATION: no permit required / Tonto National Forest, Superstition Wilderness
BEST SEASONS: spring, winter, fall
DISTANCE: 12 mile loop
WATER: none reliable, except for seasonal flows in the floor of the canyons – carry plenty
ELEVATION: trailhead ~2400, high point ~3750 (Fremont Saddle)
ACCESS: gravel road – most vehicles are generally okay
DRIVING: Follow US 60 East from Phoenix and continue beyond where the freeway ends. Pass Idaho Road (Apache Junction) and continue 7.5 miles to FS77 (Peralta Road). Turn left onto Peralta Road (turns to dirt/gravel) and continue 7 miles to the large parking area at Peralta Trailhead. The phrase “Peralta Trailhead” registers on Google Maps.
ROUTE: well maintained, popular trail, signed junctions
HIKING DIRECTIONS: This classic loop involves connecting a handful of trails, described in a counter-clockwise direction. Begin by following the Bluff Springs Trail north for 2.1 miles. Turn left on the Terrapin Trail, following it north for 2.8 miles. Turn left (west) on the Dutchman Trail (Needle Cutoff) for one mile. Finally, turn left (south) on the Peralta Trail, following it 5.9 miles south over Fremont Saddle to the trailhead. There are many trails in this general area – carry a map and look out for junctions!
GUIDEBOOK: Hikers Guide to the Superstition Wilderness
The Lost Dutchman’s Gold
Weavers Needle casts its shadow over Arizona’s most famous legend of lost gold. Seemingly endless variations of the story exist, but Weavers Needle often plays a prominent role. Some say the gold can literally be found within the shadow of its peak.
Tales most often begin with the original founders of the gold being killed by the Apache. Most agree that later in the 1890s, Jacob Waltz (aka The Dutchman) found gold in Superstitions, but conveniently died before he could extract it or reveal its location.
Be prepared to see plenty of other hikers in this area. The Superstition Wilderness is an all-time favorite hiking destination for the greater Phoenix metro-area, and Peralta may be its most popular trailhead.
The nearby “Wave Cave” now draws even more traffic to the area, having recently gained notoriety as an Instagram hot spot. It’s accessed via a short hike from the nearby Carney Springs Trailhead (permit required).
Peralta also serves as a starting point for plenty of other adventures, like the Superstition Ridgeline Trail, but this loop may be the most common and classic hike from here.
My Trip Notes and Photos
I wasn’t a resident of Arizona for very long before I made a priority of dabbling in the Superstitions Wilderness. I mean, with a name like The Superstitions, how could I not be drawn to the place?
Early 2010 brought a good, heavy winter throughout the state. My home at the South Rim of Grand Canyon was still cold and quite snowy in early March, and I thought it would be fun to escape to a warmer climate. Besides, rumor had it that abundant flowers were blooming in the area.
I asked around about hiking in the Superstitions, and this loop around Weavers Needle was most recommended. I was in good enough shape to blow through twelve miles, but it ended up being an exhausting day trip for me – I thought it would be a good idea to begin and end this day trip at the Grand Canyon – lots of driving!
My hike ended up being around 14 miles. I made a wrong turn at the junction into upper East Boulder Canyon, and it took me some time to realize it. Ironically I found this stretch to hold of the most dramatic scenery of the entire day.
It would be my first time hiking in a true Sonoran Desert setting, with plenty of classic Saguaro cacti as a bonus.
I hope you enjoy the photos!
See them all in the gallery at the end (right click to view larger).