Meet tomorrow (Saturday, August 21) at 5:00am at the Peralta Trailhead. We'll start hiking right at 5:15am. Please comment or call if you're planning on coming. ..or if you're gonna be late or need clarification 480-216-4327
Below is the hike description from my favorite hike forum, http://www.hikearizona.com/ :
This hike offers a lot of bang for the buck! Normally it is necessary to substantially penetrate the Wilderness for descent returns. At only about four miles round trip, this is a rare example of close in quality. I would consider it almost on par with the Cave Trail (always a favorite) but less strenuous and much easier to follow. It is so nice in fact, I wondered if it was wise to post it. Then, if it is hiked responsibly, I really would like to see other hikers enjoying this beautiful little canyon.
Starting from the Peralta trailhead, take the Bluff Spring trail up Cardiac Hill, past the Cave Trail intersection to the top, and then down the other side to the bottom where it first crosses the creek bed. Here you depart the trail and head south through the bottom of the wash following it several miles till you intersect the Dutchman Trail in Barkley Basin which then takes you back to the trailhead.
Directions to Peralta Trailhead: 7.6 miles east of the junction Idaho Rd / US-60. Turn Left on to FS77 which is Peralta Road. Follow FS77 5.6 miles to a left and up turnoff. Continue 1.9 miles to Peralta Trailhead.
The trailhead has restrooms minus running water. The parking lot is huge. It does fill up in season on weekends. 0.5 miles before reaching the trailhead is an overflow lot which is also suited for horse trailer parking.
Hike:This is the simple part. From the point just over a mile in, where Bluff Spring trail crosses the wash at the bottom of Barks Canyon it is simply a matter of following the creek bed all the way south to the Dutchman trail. I saw no cairns or footprints through the numerous sandy areas testifying to the unexpected solitude of this of this seldom used canyon. The wash is easy to follow with only minor rock hopping and only one small spot of thick bush. Route finding is a cinch as the canyon presents only a singular route. However, with various paths to choose from through the bottom, I suggest varying from side to side to follow the more interesting terrain features as you go along. The sides are alternately lined with small cliffs and numerous smooth rock areas seeming to grow more and more interesting as you proceed. Despite the extremely dry conditions present at the time, there were numerous large pools of water along the way.
As you approach the 2.5mi point where the basin starts coming into view, look ahead for reddish colored mine tailings spilling forth about 100 yards up the slope on your left. It cannot be seen from directly beneath so you need to spot it as you are approaching from up stream. This tunnel is shown on Tom Kollenborn's map in Helen Corbin's book The Curse of the Dutchman's Gold as being Charles Crawford's camp. No date is given and I don’t know if this was a producing mine or merely a prospect. It does go back for a long distance into the mountain possibly indicating a mine, on the other hand, it is in a very straight line, and that would indicate a prospect. It does however finally fork at point where the bats were getting thick and I lost the courage to proceed. This may indicate the start of a “drift”, or the point at which they possibly began to follow a vein of whatever ore they were seeking. It never ceases to amaze me the amount back breaking work that must have been involved in those hellish conditions to move that much solid rock by hand.
Soon after passing the mine, the canyon begins to open up into the Barkley Basin. Continue to follow the widening wash a short distance to the well-worn and easily spotted crossing of the Dutchman trail. From there it is a short one mile cruise back to the trailhead.
An option for the diehard who may want a bit more strenuous hike would be to add what I’ll call the “Mid Barks” section. To do this, initially remain on Bluff Spring trail going north until you reach the Terrapin trail intersection. It is here that you now follow the same creek bed south but add on about 1.5 miles extra total distance and a bit more rugged terrain.
The best part is shortly downstream of the intersection where you will encounter a lengthy and steep series of cascading pools carved into the smooth rock beneath sheer walls. You then enter a beautiful, but dense thicket of trees at the bottom that requires a bit of determination to penetrate. From here you basically parallel Bluff Spring trail and eventually merge onto it as you approach the previously described starting point.
As I mentioned at the outset, I sometimes agonize over whether to publicly post some material given the virgin or delicate nature of a certain area. I realize there are good arguments both ways. I have listened to many and Im still listening. Enjoy the hike~