Second Water Trail, Superstition Wilderness: First Water Trailhead, Phoenix - Scottsdale - Mesa, Arizona

Second Water Trail - 7.2 miles

Superstition Wilderness: First Water Trailhead

The Second Water Trail

The Second Water Trail

Round-Trip Length: 7.2 miles
Start-End Elevation: 2,275' - 1,925' (2,405' max elevation)
Elevation Change: -350' net elevation loss (+942' total roundtrip elevaiton gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Second Water Trail - 7.2 Miles Round-Trip

The Second Water Trail runs 3.6 miles from the First Water Trailhead to a wide, scenic opening in Boulder Canyon. The trail is a moderate out-and-back, but may be combined with the Boulder Canyon and Black Mesa trails for longer routes into the backcountry.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Visitors will enjoy varied terrain, the flats of Garden Valley and a climactic finish in Boulder Canyon:

From First Water, follow the Dutchmans Trail to the Second Water Trail and veer left (.3 mile). The Second Water Trail heads NE into the foothills with emerging views of the mountains' inner-topography.

Diversely vegetated hillsides support an abundant collection of teddy bear cholla, ocotillo and barrel cactus on this stretch.

At 1.05 miles it drops across a wash and begins a short, rugged climb through a canyon that moderates into Garden Valley (1.65 miles : 2,397'). This vast, flat expanse is an ideal place to find jackrabbit and coyote.

The pace quickens to the Black Mesa Trail split (1.8 miles : 2,397'); veer left on Second Water to maintain clockwise travel on the loop.

The Second Water Trail levels across Garden Valley before slipping through a narrow passage between Hackberry Mesa and Black Mesa (2.4 miles : 2,378').

It drops sharply from 2.9 miles (2,265') into a cluttered slot (3.35 miles) that spills into a capacious opening on the floor of Boulder Canyon (3.6 miles : 1,925').

This is a particularly scenic area worth exploring before heading back. Note your entry-exit point before wandering about; the Second Water Trail sign may be difficult to relocate in this wide section of canyon.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N33 28.808 W111 26.580 — 0.0 miles : First Water Trailhead
  • N33 28.644 W111 26.381 — .3 miles : Second Water - Dutchmans Trail split
  • N33 28.609 W111 25.788 — 1.0 miles : Mild, rolling climb into foothills
  • N33 29.151 W111 25.654 — 1.8 miles : Second Water - Black Mesa Trail split
  • N33 29.329 W111 25.566 — 2.05 miles : Level travel across Garden Valley
  • N33 29.592 W111 25.242 — 2.5 miles : Slip between Hackberry and Black mesas
  • N33 29.820 W111 24.845 — 3.0 miles : Steep, rugged descent
  • N33 29.940 W111 24.364 — 3.6 miles : Second Water - Boulder Canyon Trail split

Worth Noting

  • There's limited water on the Second Water Trail until reaching the floor of a narrow side canyon (3.35 miles) that leads into Boulder Canyon. There are several particularly nice, shaded sites in this secluded area. Additional sites can be found throughout Boulder Canyon.

  • The First Water Trailhead sees heavy use, especially on weekends. Arrive early to secure parking and avoid crowds.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Dispersed camping is permitted in the Superstition Wilderness. No fee or permit is required.

  • Fires are not permitted on the Second Water 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 to carry all of your own water. Note water is very limited in Garden Valley. Treat all natural water sources before consumption. 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 First Water Trailhead is located east of Mesa AZ in the Superstition Wilderness, just north of Lost Dutchman State Park.

The trailhead is located 9.9 miles north of Highway 60 on Highway 88.

From Highway 60, take the 88 / North Idaho Road exit. Continue 2.2 miles to a fork and bear right. Continue past Lost Dutchman State Park (7.1 miles) to the turnoff for the First Water Trailhead on your right (7.3 miles). Follow signs to the trailhead (9.9 miles).

Note this final segment runs on a graded dirt road suitable for 2WD vehicles.

Contact Information

Superstition Wilderness
Mesa Ranger District
5140 E. Ingram St.
Mesa, Arizona 85205
Monday-Friday: 8 am - noon | 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Lost Dutchman State Park
6109 N. Apache Trail
Apache Junction, AZ 85119

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


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