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Garden Valley Loop

Trailhead: First Water

Length: 5.4 miles roundtrip

Difficulty: Moderate

Wilderness Area: Superstition Mountain Wilderness Area

Journal: "A Snake in the Garden" and "Through the Garden"

**Kid Friendly Hike**

Garden Valley

Directions to Trailhead:

From Apache Junction, go NE on SR 88 approx 5.3 miles to FR 78 (just past Lost Dutchman State Park). Turn right and continue 2.6 miles to the end of the road. Lots of parking, but it can be crowded on weekends in the spring. A Tonto Pass is NOT required to park at the trailhead. Trailhead is accessible in a car.

Trail Description:

From the trailhead, start hiking the Dutchman Trail #104. After .4 miles take the left fork at the junction with the Second Water Trail, #236. Follow the Second Water Trail across First Water Creek and continue on it for 1.5 miles to Garden Valley and the signed junction with the Black Mesa Trail, #241. Continue on the Second Water Trail another 100 feet to an unsigned trail heading off to the left (Northwest). Take this unmaintained horse trail across Garden Valley. The view is great and the trail is easy.

About .8 miles after leaving the Second Water Trail, the horse trail climbs a small ridge and then descends into a ravine that descends off of Hackberry Mesa. There are some loose rocks area in this section so watch your footing. We encountered rattlesnake who forgot his Prozac as well. The tail continues down the ravine until it reaches a small saddle.

At the saddle is a junction. If you go to the left you follow a horse trail across the hills to the Windmill site described later on. We went to the right toward Hackberry Spring. The trail continues to descend and meander until it reaches First Water Creek. The trail then turns south and follows along the east bank of First Water Creek to Hackberry Spring. There are some nice camp sites just south of the spring. You are 3.4 miles form the trailhead at this point.

Continuing north, the trail disappears, the Canyon gets narrow and you begin boulder-hopping up the creek. This is a very short section (.3 miles) but it was especially difficult to do with a 4 year old. After clearing the narrows, the trail becomes slick rock and easy again. Soon you reach a fork in the creek. To continue back to the Second Water Trail, take the left fork. We take the right fork.

The trail enters another narrows and meanders back and forth across the slick rock. Another .4 miles from the fork in the creek and you reach the old Windmill site. The area was very overgrown and we had to jump a fence to get in. There is a water tank, the tower of a wind mill and a tin ramada. The ramada made for a nice shelter from the sun before the last push to the end.

From the ramada, hike up the old road to the ridge to the southwest. After cresting the ridge, the road descends to a gate and Forest Road 78. The horse parking lot is .1 miles west (right). The main First Water parking area and the trail head is .4 miles southeast (left).

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This site maintained by John and Heather Verley, 2001-2010.