This is arguably one of the best moderate hikes near Phoenix. While it is long at 5.5+ miles there isn’t a huge elevation change making it easier for people who can’t hike Flat Iron or who find Camelback Mountain a challenge. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking and I recommend you do it so that you are ending during sunset. The walk back from the falls is incredible with a stunning landscape for your return walk.

It is also maybe the best named hike in Arizona, not to mention the area is filled with mystique and lore. Legend has it minors were on an expedition to mine gold in the area and they were ambushed and killed by Apache Indians. As you know if you have been out to the Superstition Mountains, there is the old mining ghost town, where you can learn more about the area and explore some of the areas history.

The hike itself is a perfect length and not too long or overly hard but enough to get some great exercise in. You will get incredible views and if you are lucky and time it right, you can see the beautiful large waterfall during the spring runoff. You will be treated to stunning views of the Superstition Mountains as well as the valley as you climb up to the falls.

Parking and finding the trail is a little tricky, but Google Maps will take you to the right spot. After turning off AZ-88 you will pass 2 parking lots but don’t park there… you will want to go past those two and cross the little stream that is right after the 2nd parking lot on your right.

The starting point to the hike is adjacent to the Jacob’s Crosscut trail. Jacob’s trail goes back SW however you will want to exit the parking lot on the NE side of the parking lot. You will walk NE for 1/5 mile when you will see the true trail start after passing through the fence.

Massacre Grounds Trail to Massacre Falls - Superstition Mountains

Difficulty:

Moderate

Elevation Gain:

1,800 Feet

Length:

5.5 Miles - (2-3 hours)

The hike begins from the NE side of the parking lot where you will enter into the Superstition area and the hike itself is a moderate incline most of the way. Half a mile in or so you will pass through the fence where the old trailhead had you start.

Soon after you will pass a little cave up the left to checkout if you’d like. I was lucky enough to see some very exciting things along the way including what I assume is a large lizard skeleton and a tarantula!

Seeing a tarantula was definitely an unnerving bucket list checkmark. It was so interesting just to see it slowly walk around an ant pile and not moving rapidly or I would have been gone. The good news is that if you were were to get bitten by a tarantula it actually is weaker of a pain than a bee sting. The tarantula also has less venom than a bee. So, be relieved to know that a tarantula is harmless to humans aside from the nightmares you may have down the road.

The rest of the hike is pretty straightforward up the hill and be sure to turn around and checkout the epic views of the valley behind you. There are pretty rock formations throughout as well so you can get some pretty pictures.

Once you get to the end you will come to a fork in the road. Going straight or left you will continue to the edge of a cliff, which is pretty to see. However, to get to the falls you will want to turn right and just go another 1/4 mile to walk right up to the falls.

As you get closer to the falls there is some pretty foliage all surrounding it like you are in a mini jungle. Once at the falls you can hangout and even walk around up along it on the right side of the falls.

If you go close to sunset you might be in for a treat, however don’t stay too late or you might be hiking out in the dark!

 

 

Pros

  • 45 mins from downtown Phoenix
  • Not high traffic hike like the ones in town and is so close to Phoenix
  • Close waterfall hike near Phoenix
  • Great views of Superstition Mountains
  • Great views of valley
  • Pretty easy without much incline
  • Lots of parking
  • Incredible sunsets

Cons

  • Waterfall only flows well during Spring snow runoff. I went after heavy rain but still wasn’t much flow.
  • Saw a tarantula… not sure if that is a con or a pro… depends who you are I guess.
  • Path is pretty rocky.

Tips

  • Go during Spring runoff in Feb-April timeframe.
  • Pictures are stunning if you are there after a snowfall.


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Hey I’m Fraser. My site is dedicated to the 22nd century person with a lust for travel and adventure, need for time efficient recipe ideas as well as anyone in need of self-help or a pick-me up! Thanks for visiting Inspire Travel Eat!

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