Hiking Battleship Mountain is like walking in another world. Eerie lunar-like landscapes confront the senses while mind-blowing canyons and mountains appear on all sides. Formed by volcanic activity as long as 25 million years ago it’s hard to believe such a place exists so close to the city, but it’s only a day-hike away. At the top of the mountain are stunning views of Weaver’s Needle, Canyon Lake, and Lower La Barge Box, but that’s only part of the fun. This 12-mile 2,100 ft. AEC hike will start at the First Water Trailhead then proceed to the Second Water and Boulder Canyon trails. We will walk at a moderately fast pace estimated between 2 to 2.5 mph. This hike will involve rock hopping in a creek bed and locating cairned exit points. We’ll then scramble up the mountain. We’ll hike along a ridge that at a few exposed spots with more than 100 ft. drops. It will give you “the willies.” I have hiked it three times with everyone making it up safely and have never heard of anyone getting hurt though one admitted it made her nervous. If you are afraid of heights or are not fully confident of your sense of balance or agility you might find it dangerous. There will be rock scrambling toward the top, but technical skills are not required. If you have no previous experience with scrambling or bouldering you could find it challenging. We’ll have lunch on the northern part of the mountain before heading back the same way we came in, in preparation for a safe landing over Mexican food.
Hike Rating: This hike falls within “B” distance and elevation change parameters. I’m designating it as “A” due to the extra difficulty of scrambling up the side of the mountain, rock scrambling toward the top, and some exposure. This is consistent with what another experienced Sierra Club hike leader and outings chair (Darrell Foster) has rated it.
Hikers: For safety reasons and out of consideration for others this hike is for experienced and strong hikers who are not afraid of heights. It is not for beginning hikers, slow hikers, or those with agility limitations. If you have any medical concerns or physical limitations I should be made aware of please email me.
Screening: If I have not hiked with you before you will be asked to list the hikes you have completed in the past six months. If I still have questions I’ll ask you to call me. If you do not have the required volume of water or in my judgment the appropriate gear Sierra Club rules mandate you will be turned back at the trailhead. If you are an experienced hiker you will know what to bring so this shouldn’t be a problem.
Dogs and Kids: Sorry, not allowed on this hike.
Suggested Gear: At least 4 liters of water (required), electrolyte drink, high energy snacks, lunch, first aid kit, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, leather gloves (protect hands while scrambling), flexible boots with good tread for scrambling, headlamp (just in case), and a plastic bag with a fresh change of clothes.
Meetup: We’ll meet at Einstein Bagels at the northeast corner of Gilbert and Baseline off Hwy 60 in Mesa. We’ll car pool from there. We’ll meet at 7:00 and leave at 7:15. Please be on time but if running a tad bit late please call and if you aren’t too late we can wait:[masked].
fine print: It’s a dirt road to the trailhead. If you have a high clearance vehicle please volunteer to drive. Please reimburse your driver for gas and wear – tear on the vehicle. I suggest at least $5. Dinner at Los Gringos Locos in Apache Junction at 280 South Phelps Drive, $12 approx. Requested non-mandatory Sierra Club donation: $3 non-members; $1 members. The Sierra Club requires that you sign our liability waiver prior to going on the outing
Environmental: There was substantial mining around the perimeter of the Superstitions during the 1870’s and 1880’s, though fortunately (despite the legend of the Lost Dutchman) no gold was ever found. The area became inundated with grazing cattle during the late part of the 19th century until environmental protections were later put into place. I once went on a backpacking trip with a retired wildlife biologist who spent her career in the Sups. She once pointed and said “there’s a cow!” Curious that I saw only cholla cactus not large enough to hide a cow I hesitantly asked what she meant. She explained that this dastardly scourge (of the hiker) was spread like wildfire by cattle that once grazed there. The area became increasing protected during the mid part of the 20th century. Congress enacted the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1964, and this small but important part of our state will be changed no more by either pick-axe or cow. Since hikers have since replaced them, our group size will be limited to 15 per Wilderness regulations.