Peralta Trail, Superstition Wilderness: Peralta Trailhead, Phoenix - Scottsdale - Mesa, Arizona
Peralta Trail - 12.4 miles
Superstition Wilderness: Peralta Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||12.4 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||2,395' - 2,493' (3,758' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+98' net elevation gain (+2,838' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Peralta Trail - 12.4 Miles Round-Trip
The Peralta Trail runs 6.2 miles along the southwest side of the Superstition Wilderness. It passes through two diversely vegetated canyons capped by Weavers Needle, an iconic 4553' spire that towers over the landscape.
The trail climbs 1360' in just 2.2 miles to Fremont Saddle, past which crowds thin on a more gradual descent through Boulder Canyon to the Dutchman Trail split.
Visitors will enjoy varied terrain, terrific views from Fremont Saddle and useful insight to the canyons' complex volcanic origin:
The trail begins at the mouth of Peralta Canyon and climbs steadily on a rugged, heavily vegetated path. Oak and mesquite envelop portions of the trail along the canyon's seasonally flowing creek.
Brush recedes and grades steepen past 1 mile (2,902') with a chance to study columns of volcanic rock needles that top the canyon walls.
At 1.7 miles (3,428') you'll cross (right) over seasonal pools and resume a steep, shifting course through open rock and cacti gardens on the east side of the canyon. Note the prevalence of agave and contrasting light and dark rock in the upper canyon.
Light rock on this section is welded tuff, a composite of hot volcanic ash and cinder that fell back to earth and lithified. The dark needles above are remnants of magma columns that solidified under ground and were exposed through differential erosion.
The trail crests on Fremont Saddle (2.2 miles : 3,754') with dramatic views north of Weavers Needle, Boulder Canyon and a labyrinth of washes, mesas, buttes and peaks in the backcountry.
Here it tilts downhill on the west side of upper Boulder Canyon through comparatively sparse hillsides. Note the absence of saguaro in favor of yucca, grasses and jojoba.
The trail follows Boulder Canyon Creek past several backcountry campsites, which are generally located in level pockets of vegetation by the creek.
You'll pass a campsite at 4.3 miles (2,944') and climb 118' to another crest with expanding views across the backcountry (4.8 miles : 3,062').
The trail resumes a more direct descent before rolling to the east side of a divisive ridge in the canyon (5.55 miles : 2,787'). It runs quickly down the east side of the ridge with a great look at Black Top Mesa.
A final twist leads to the Peralta - Dutchman Trail junction on the floor of Boulder Canyon (6.2 miles : 2,493'). Return the way you came, or form a loop by taking the Dutchman Trail to the Terrapin and Bluff Spring trails back to the trailhead.
Though comparable in distance, this loop option is arguably more challenging, with several steep climbs and vague sections along the way.
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N33 23.858 W111 20.873 — 0.0 miles : Peralta Trailhead
- N33 24.237 W111 20.951 — .5 miles : Moderate climb through heavy brush
- N33 24.475 W111 21.212 — 1.0 miles : Grades steepen in middle canyon (2,904')
- N33 24.700 W111 21.521 — 1.5 miles : Sharp, rocky climb (3,243')
- N33 24.815 W111 21.659 — 1.7 miles : Cross right over seasonal pool
- N33 24.903 W111 21.746 — 2.0 miles : Travel over open light rock
- N33 24.944 W111 21.889 — 2.2 miles : Fremont Saddle (3,758')
- N33 25.100 W111 21.972 — 2.65 miles : Moderate descent down west side of canyon
- N33 25.287 W111 22.188 — 3.0 miles : Variously rugged and brushy travel (3,385')
- N33 25.659 W111 22.432 — 3.55 miles : Trail runs adjacent to Weavers Needle
- N33 25.932 W111 22.739 — 4.0 miles : Moderate descent (3,055')
- N33 26.251 W111 22.919 — 4.5 miles : Slight rise to crest at 4.8 miles
- N33 26.544 W111 23.120 — 5.0 miles : Trail straightens on descent
- N33 26.795 W111 23.050 — 5.5 miles : Roll over to east side of divisive fin
- N33 27.081 W111 23.094 — 6.2 miles : Peralta - Dutchman Trail junction (2,493')
- The Peralta Trail sees heavy use, especially on weekends. Arrive early to secure parking and avoid crowds. Trail traffic typically thins past Fremont Saddle (2.2 miles).
- The Superstition Mountains were born inside the core of an ancient caldera, the result of a series of major eruptions that occurred 15 - 25 M years ago. Though subsequent geologic activity and erosion have obscured the caldera's appearance, evidence such as lava flow channels and columns remain today. The vertical outer walls of Peralta Canyon are remnants of the original caldera.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Dispersed camping is permitted in the Superstition Wilderness. No fee or permit is required.
- Fires are not permitted along the Peralta Trail, 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