Miners Summit 3516′
Total Time: 6 hours
Roundtrip Mileage: 9.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 2500′
Crux: Class II
Trailhead: Peralta Trail- pit toilets, no water
I had made a pre- New Year’s Resolution to stop dragging Holly on hikes that the overwhelming majority of people would not enjoy. Many of my objectives require cross country travel, which are fairly unforgiving in Arizona, and I needed to reel in my ambitions while hiking with her before she stopped wanting to go entirely. So in that spirit, I looked for some peaks a little closer to home in the Superstitions that we could do with minimal suffering. I had already cleaned out most of the immediate western edge (The Flatiron, Superstition Peak, Battleship Mountain), and the peaks seem to become more obscure and remote further east. I ultimately settled on either Bluff Springs Mountain or Miner’s Summit, with minimal or easy cross country per online reports. They both shared a common trailhead and part of the route, so it could be a game time decision as to which peak to tag. We got a late-ish start, getting to the Peralta Trailhead at about 9:30, the small lot mostly full.
The Peralta Trail is probably the most popular trail outside of Lost Dutchman State Park in the Superstitions, but most people head towards Fremont Saddle for a close up of Weavers Needle. We instead headed up the less traveled Bluff Springs Trail, meandering up a ridge to the northeast. The trail was steeper than it initially looked on the map, and we hiked up an over a ridge separating Peralta Canyon from Barks Canyon. After ascending several hundred feet, we crested over the ridge and slowly descended into Barks Canyon. Barks Canyon is a broad and sandy wash with spires from Fremont Peak and saddle towering above. This section of the hike was incredibly scenic, and we stopped in a small patch of lingering shade in the late morning sun. The wash had pools of water from some of the recent rains, and animal prints spoke to the reliance of wildlife on these temporary pools in the rugged range. The trail followed the wash up canyon, and as we slowly gained elevation, we earned our first views of Weaver’s Needle for the day.
Shortly thereafter, Bluff Springs Mountain came in to view, and I traced out the route, meandering up rock slabs and weaving through Ocotillo and Cholla. As I pointed out the line up, Holly looked at me incredulously. This was one of my easy options!? Miner’s Summit it is… The trail hooked east over a shallow ridge and we dropped into Bluff Springs Canyon, encountering some additional small pools of water fed by the namesake spring. Weaver’s Needle began to fade from view as we descended Bluff Spring Canyon and began traversing beneath the north slopes of Miner’s Summit. The Bluff Springs drainage was broad and shrubby, and was not quite as dramatic as Barks Canyon to the west.
We took an easy to miss turn at a signed junction (the trail turns on itself into a wash) and we began to regain elevation, hiking up towards Miners Summit. I was starting to worry the summit would be a bit of a bust, just a nondescript bump on a short ridgeline. But my fears were put to rest when we reached the saddle between Miner’s Summit and Circle BM to the east, giving us our first close up view of the dramatic Miner’s Needle 100 yards south. A large natural arch, known as the “Eye of the Needle,” could be seen high on the NE corner. We left the trail to climb the 200′ of cross country to the summit, and the views continued to dramatically improve. Weaver’s Needle and Bluff Spring Mountain came back into view to the NW. Dozens of unnamed summits and rock features towered to the east, including Buzzard’s Roost, a craggy butte on my short list. Holly remarked that because of the views, it was one of her favorite hikes in the Superstitions so far. Perhaps there’s hope in rekindling her love of peakbagging after all…
We spent a while at the summit, and I stashed a register in a crack in the highest rocks for future visitors. Blowing through our snacks, it was time to descend back to the trail, passing a number of backpackers spending the night near one of the springs. While we were about 3/4 done with the loop, the hike out was still longer than expected with almost 4 miles back to the car weaving in and out of washes. By the time we reached the trailhead our hunger had peaked and we were ready to get back for an early dinner after a great day in the Superstitions. The real challenge is going to be keeping a streak alive of non-masochist hikes with Holly going….