There’s something magical about the Superstition Mountain range. In my experience, the range doesn’t have a “bad” hike in it. That said, Peralta Trail to Fremont Saddle is definitely at the top of my list when it comes to Superstition hikes.
The Stats: Trail name: Peralta trail to Fremont saddle Location: Superstition Mountain Range near Gold Canyon, AZ Distance: 4.5 miles out and back Elevation Gain: 1,338 feet Published Difficulty: Moderate Dog Friendliness: They'll love it
Getting to Peralta Trail
From Phoenix, take the U.S. 60 east about 8 miles past Apache Junction. You’ll turn left on Peralta Road until you pass a school on the right and come to a dirt road. The dirt road is about 7 miles long. When you feel like you’ve driven too far, keep driving. When you come to a fork in the road, stay left. You’ll drive through a ranch, occasionally graced with the presence of free-range cows and bulls. You’ll pass at least one parking lot on your left (which brings you to Wave Cave trail – a stop for another time). At last, you’ll reach the Peralta trailhead – complete with a decent-sized parking lot and 2 restrooms (but no running water). This is the where the real fun begins.
Peralta trail shares its trailhead with two other trails: Dutchman and Bluff Springs. There’s a sign at the very beginning that makes it pretty clear which route you’re supposed to take.
Once on the trail, the parking lot is almost immediately out of sight and you’re left with wild desert brush surrounding you on all sides (ahhh, solitude). And then the gentle ascent begins. You’ll reach a craggy section that’s generally dry, but may contain a small pond following a good monsoon. Continue over the rocks toward the canyon and down the well-marked trail that ebbs and flows through the east side of the desert floor. Eventually, you’ll reach a section containing beautiful rock formations that lead you toward the west side of the canyon. From here, it’s up until the saddle.
As you climb toward the Fremont Saddle, take a moment to look back in the direction of the parking lot. In particular at the viewpoints where the switchbacks reverse toward the saddle. One of my favorite parts of this hike is the quick gain. Or more accurately, the views that come with the gain. Choose a point in the terrain and, as you climb, watch the changing perspective. I tend to choose the “balancing” rock that you see in the first image below.
Speaking of changes, there are three distinct terrain changes to take note of as you progress through this hike: tall(ish) desert palo verdes, to shorter desert brush and, eventually, to a more slippery rock surface that reminds me of something you would see in a Dr. Seuss book. The deep cave toward the top of Dr. Seuss-land is the sign that you’re nearly to the Fremont Saddle. About a quarter of a mile further from here.
At the saddle, you’ll be rewarded with a number of beautiful places to rest or to rock climb and, perhaps most notable, with an overlook of Weaver’s Needle. To get a closer look, venture over to the “lone tree” by cutting across the top of the saddle to the right.
Looking to explore more of the Superstitions?
Pick up the 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Phoenix book. Or view other trail options below. Happy hiking!