First Water (Black Mesa to Dutchman Loop) Hike – Superstition Mts.

Apache Junction, AZ

For our final hike in this area we chose another trail recommended to us by Hans and Lisa (Metamorphosis Road).  The Black Mesa to Dutchman Loop begins at the First Water Trailhead and is a little over nine miles in length.  The loop consisted of Second Water Trail (#236), Black Mesa trail (#241), and Dutchman’s trail (#104).  With a moderate amount of elevation gain and loss the trail takes you through some picturesque desert landscape with great views of the Superstitious Mountains and Weaver’s Needle.

Spring flowers added great color all along the way.

The elevation change may not be overwhelming, but the difficulty of this hike is increased by the rocky condition of the trail.

While we didn’t see much wildlife on this hike, we did see a lizard here and there.

Thanks to Lisa’s description in her blog post on this hike, we were able to spot one Crested Saguaro near the trail.

The trail turned to the south and we could see the distinctive Weaver’s Needle as it came into view.

As we hiked the Dutchman Trail, about two miles from a return to the trailhead, we rounded a bend and heard a distinctive hiss and rattle just to our left.  John jumped forward as Pam jumped back to avoid a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake just off the trail and coiled to strike.


Apparently he was just about to cross the trail when we appeared.  All three of us backed off to catch our breath and assess the situation.  The snake made the first move as he slowly came out of his coil and made his way across the trail between us.

Check out that rattle!

After that heart-stopping incident, we continued along the trail, enjoying the colorful flowers and strange Saguaro forms.

About a mile from the end of the trail, we had to cross a flowing stream, an unusual event in the desert.

After finishing the hike we stopped in town at a coffee shop for some refreshment.  Driving back to the motorhome we could see an impressive storm brewing over the mountains.  We thought about the group of college-age backpackers we passed on the trail as they headed in to the mountains for an overnight stay.  Hope they have their rain gear ready!

We’ve enjoyed our two week stay here in Apache Junction, but it is now time to head to the north.  Next up for us is a stay in Prescott where the mile high elevation will bring us cooler temperatures.

More on that later . . .

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21 Responses to First Water (Black Mesa to Dutchman Loop) Hike – Superstition Mts.

  1. debbiemc14 says:

    Awesome, awesome pictures! Love the flowers, views and WTH, the rattle snake even! We’ll be there in a few days and while I’m looking forward to everything else, I’d rather not see a rattle snake that close 😉 I’ll pass on the storm too. Looking forward to our visit!

  2. pmbweaver says:

    We did a few hikes in 2012 up that way. We didn’t get as close as you two did with Weaver’s Needle. That photo is awesome.

    A trail doesn’t have to be all that long to be difficult. Hiking on all the rocks sure does give the legs a workout.

    Isn’t the desert so gorgeous this time of year. I just love looking at the flowering cacti.

    Oh my gosh…you brought back a very scary moment for us too. We encountered the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake in Tucson on a hike. Aren’t we lucky that they warn us before it is too late. Your snake looks huge. Glad all three of you parted friends.

    Those mountains look so intimidating with those dark clouds. Gives me a spooky feeling.

  3. Dave & Skruffy ( says:

    WOW, a rattler up and personal!!! Lovely hike there. We leave in 9 days and will be in Prescott ourselves for a day a few weeks later….my good friend is the Library Director there in Prescott. –Dave (

  4. Jodee Gravel says:

    I love the Superstitions, especially with the Spring flowers. Thought the lizard was cool, but the snake definitely wins. There’s just nothing that makes your heart stop like the sound of those rattles! You got great shots of how beautiful they are. That saquaro looks like it’s trying to coil itself as well – very strange!

  5. You had it all on this hike: cool lizards, crested saguaros, flowers AND the icing on the cake, a rattler! What an encounter! So glad he warned you of his presence early enough!

  6. Janna says:

    We saw another rattlesnake Sunday afternoon while ATVing–that’s more snakes in this one winter than we’ve ever seen in the desert! I dreamed last night I heard a woman screaming here in the RV park that she had been bitten by a rattlesnake–let’s hope it remains a dream!!!

  7. jimandbarb says:

    Your hikes continue to amaze me, I am whooped after a 4 mile hike! We finally got back out on the trail yesterday and it felt good!
    We have yet to see a rattler, would like to see one but only under the right conditions.

  8. colibabas says:

    I think you guys should write a book about all of your hiking adventures! Great pics.
    Safe travels!

  9. Great photo of the rattle on that snake! The few times we’ve come across one on a trail it makes the rest of the hike a bit less fun, looking and listening for another one.

  10. Gay says:

    Awesome pictures of the rattle snake Pam…sure adds to the excitement for the day and the adventures we encounter on life’s journey! I cant say he was as beautiful as the cactus blooms, but Joe would!

    Safe travels…

  11. Sue says:

    Another great post full of wonderful pictures. I’ll not say a word about that snake. I loved the flowers, the needle, the strangely wonky cactus and especially the dark, stormy sky.

  12. Sherry says:

    So wonderful to hike in the desert with the beautiful flowers blooming. The diamondback, not so much. Sounds like heart attack material. Love your description of the “3 of you” jumping back to assess the situation. Great pictures all around of the desert, the flowers, the rattler. Nice hike.

  13. Sheila says:

    A beautiful area and gorgeous photos of the sights you experienced. I believe the snake is beautiful, but I wouldn’t want to be hiking and almost step on one. We have rattlesnakes in our neighborhood and know to watch for them, but it does give one a startle when they are sighted or heard. We met a man from Canada a few years ago while camped at Cave Creek whose dog was bitten. The dog was a German Short-haired, so pretty big. It immediately went into shock and he had to carry him for two miles back to camp. It cost $4,000 to save its life! Happy Hiking and be safe!

  14. Laurel says:

    Another gorgeous hike — the cloud formations added even more beauty to your photos. Love the magenta blooms on the hedgehog cactus. And wow, that was a big rattler!! We’ve only seen a couple of rattlers in all our years of hiking. I’ll bet that got your adrenaline going!

  15. Jean L. says:

    Beautiful photos. Pam, you wouldn’t find me standing so close to ANY snake!!

  16. Ingrid says:

    Looks like another fabulous hike. Interesting to see Weaver’s Needle from another angle. Yikes to that snake!

  17. Well that was ex-ssssss-citng for you! I love a story with a happy ending.

  18. That was a heartstoping moment! I would probably runaway.
    What a lovely hike in a a green desert surrounded by beautiful mountains and scary wildlife.

  19. allisonmohr says:

    Is there anything as creepy as a rattle snake? It’s been a couple of years since we have seen one, but I am always on high alert for them. Beautiful photographs.

  20. LuAnn says:

    Beautiful photos, especially that hedgehog cactus in bloom. We have also done that hike, sans the rattlesnake. It has been many years since we have encountered one on the trails and I hope it is many more before we do again. 🙂

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