This hike offers a lot of "bang for the buck"! Normally it is necessary to substantially penetrate the Wilderness for descent returns. At only about four miles round trip, this is a rare example of close in quality. I would consider it almost on par with the Cave Trail (always a favorite) but less strenuous and much easier to follow.
Hike: Starting from the Peralta trailhead, take the Bluff Spring trail up "Cardiac Hill", past the Cave Trail intersection to the top, and then down the other side to the bottom where it first crosses the creek bed. Here you depart the trail and head south through the bottom of the wash following it several miles till you intersect the Dutchman Trail in Barkley Basin which then takes you back to the trailhead
This is the simple part. From the point just over a mile in, where Bluff Spring trail crosses the wash at the bottom of Barks Canyon it is simply a matter of following the creek bed all the way south to the Dutchman trail. I saw no cairns or footprints through the numerous sandy areas testifying to the unexpected solitude of this of this seldom used canyon. The wash is easy to follow with only minor rock hopping and only one small spot of thick bush. Route finding is a cinch as the canyon presents only a singular route. However, with various paths to choose from through the bottom, I suggest varying from side to side to follow the more interesting terrain features as you go along. The sides are alternately lined with small cliffs and numerous smooth rock areas seeming to grow more and more interesting as you proceed. Despite the extremely dry conditions present at the time, there were numerous large pools of water along the way.
As you approach the 2.5mi point where the basin starts coming into view, look ahead for reddish colored mine tailings spilling forth about 100 yards up the slope on your left. It cannot be seen from directly beneath so you need to spot it as you are approaching from up stream. This tunnel is known as being Charles Crawford's camp. It does go back for a long distance into the mountain possibly indicating a "mine". On the other hand, it is in a very straight line, and that would indicate a "prospect".
Soon after passing the mine, the canyon begins to open up into the Barkley Basin. Continue to follow the widening wash a short distance to the well-worn and easily spotted crossing of the Dutchman trail. From there it is a short one mile cruise back to the trailhead.
Our hikes are generally at a pace conducive to social banter of interest to heathens, and allowing for time for photography of the local geology and wildlife. We will use walkie talkies to keep everyone involved regardless of their pace. Expect this hike to last 3-4 hours
Here are photos from our previous trips up nearby Peralta Trail:
History: "Barks" Canyon is not to be confused with "Barkley" Basin. Barkley Basin, present home of the Quarter Circle U Ranch has been the continuous headquarters of ranching operations for well over a century.
Jim Bark, after whom the canyon is named, bought the ranch in 1891, the same year that the "Dutchman" Jacob Waltz died. It is he who has been attributed with coining the phrase "Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine" around 1893. With his well-known partner Sims Ely, he was an active "Dutch hunter" for many years. He claims to have actually met Julia Thomas and Rheinhart Petrasch camping near an old well on his ranch. It was they who cared for Waltz until his death, claimed to have directions to the mine, stumbled unprepared into the mountains in mid summer, and thus inaugurated the famous search that still lasts today.
William "Tex" Barkley then came along and acquired the ranch in 1907, gave it the "Quarter Circle U" name that still stands today and eventually also acquired First Water Ranch just to the north where his son Bill lived. It was then sold it in 1955 and it was during those final years that author and historian Tom Kollenberg worked for Tex on the ranch. Although Barkley had more than passing interest in the search for the lost mine and welcomed many a Dutch hunter through his ranch over the years, he was probably best known as a prominent figure in the many Sheriff's posses and search parties heading into the Superstitions over the years
Distance: 3.86 mi
Time: 3-4 hrs.
Difficulty: moderately strenuous
Trail: minor rock hopping included
Trailhead Elevation: 2400 ft.
Elevation gain: 640 ft..
Accumulated gain 900 ft.
Parking: big crowded gravel lot w/ facilities
Entry fees: none
Dogs: OK on leash
Always carry and drink plenty of water!
Sunscreen and insect repellent is advised.
Supportive footwear is also advisable.
SAFETY FIRST… we have no medical provisions.
Hike at your own risk.
TO GET THERE… from Phoenix go out highway 60 past Apache Junction (about 23 miles past the 101) to the end of the freeway, and continue on 6 more miles to milepost 204. Then go left onto E. Peralta Rd. heading north (left - your only choice).
At 5-6 miles from 60, follow an obvious sign and take the left fork uphill and continue all the way to the end of E. Peralta Rd…. to the trailhead parking area… about 7-8 miles from the 60. It may take 15-20 minutes to get to the trail head from the 60 aqs it is a dirt road.
As you near the end of the road (The Peralta Trailhead), you may notice other trailheads and distractions… Stay on the main road all the way to the end.
Google says the trail head is
…80 minutes from the I-17 & 101… 60 miles
… 60 minutes from the I-10 & 51… 50 miles
… 55 minutes from the 60 & 101… 35 miles
MESSAGE FOR CARPOOLERS: Carpooling can save gas but also enhance the social experience. If you’d like to carpool, you must contact others for arrangements. You could email members or post comments on this announcement page.
Following the hike we may reconvene at Old Chicago near Power Road and the 60. They have outside patio seating. To get there from the 60 take Power Rd. south a few hundred feet to Superstition Springs Blvd. and turn left (east) a few hundred feet to 6821 E. Superstition Springs Blvd… restaurant is obvious on right (south side). The restaurant is about 45 minutes from the trailhead or about 20 from Peralta Rd at the 60.