Second Water hiking trail0
Location: Apache Junction, Arizona
Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Route Type: Out & Back
Length: 7.0 miles round trip
Trailhead Elevation: 2,258 ft.
Elevation Gain: -368 ft.
Park Fee: No fee
Trailhead Amenities: parking, restrooms (portable), trail map and information
Directions: From central Phoenix, take I-10 east to US 60 east. Exit on Idaho Road, follow Idaho Road north to N Apache Trail, bear right onto N Apache Trail and follow it 0.5 mile past the Lost Dutchman State Park entrance. Turn right onto N First Water Road. Follow this dirt road 2.5 miles all the way to the end where you’ll find a trailhead parking. Parking lot fits about 50 cars, but the overflow “horse lot”, about 0.5 mile back, will fit additional vehicles.
The Second Water Trail runs 3.5 miles each way, 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.
The hike begins at the First Water trailhead. You will head out on the Dutchman’s Trail #104. After about 0.3 miles comes the Second Water Trail junction. Bear left onto Second Water trail. Soon after the junction, the trail crosses a rocky creek bed. To your right and back is Superstition Mountain. The trail continues to weave through the hills. Diversely vegetated hillsides support an abundant collection of teddy bear cholla, ocotillo and barrel cacti on this stretch.
At about 1.1 miles the trail crosses another creek bed. This one is more narrow and less rocky then the first. The trail jumps across this usually dry creek and immediately heads up a minor canyon. This is the first time the trail noticeably ascends. Follow this canyon up to Garden Valley – a 2400 ft high plateau that is covered by bushes and cholla cacti. Hiking through Garden Valley is a stroll. This part of the trail is smooth and wide. Hackberry Mesa is to your upper left and Black Mesa to the right. A third of the way into Garden Valley (1.8 miles) comes the Black Mesa Trail junction. Continue on straight. The trail takes you to the northeastern end of Garden Valley. Exiting Garden Valley, the smooth trail gives way to a light rocky scramble. The trail is still very well defined but you’ll need to watch your step. About 2.5 miles into the hike the trail begins to descend out of Garden Valley. The trail meets up with Second Water Canyon which takes you down to Boulder Canyon Trail (3.5 miles). Battleship Mountain stands ahead of you to the east with Geronimo Head looming overhead. Battleship Mountain is hard to distinguish from this vantage point.
Note: from the 2.5 to the 3.5 mile points, the trail descends about 490 feet. Although nothing extreme, it’s good to keep in mind for the return trip.
If you’re ready for a next adventure and want to plan it right, check out some of these hiking guides – Arizona has so many awesome destinations to explore!