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First Water (Boulder Canyon)

First Water: Boulder canyon hike
Blue skies in the Superstition Wilderness
Along the Second water trail in the Superstion wilderness
Hiking along the Second water trail
Water in the Superstion Wilderness
Elevation plot: First Water: Boulder canyon hike
map: First Water: Boulder canyon hike
First Water: Boulder canyon hike
First Water: Boulder canyon hike
First Water: Boulder canyon hike
Rare water in Boulder canyon


How to Get There
From the Phoenix area, take US-60 East, leaving the city limits. Take the HWY-88 exit (Idaho Road). About 5.5 miles after leaving Apache Junction, turn right on to signed First Water Road (FR 78). The signed turn-off is between mile marker 201 and 202. Continue a little over 2 miles to the trailhead. There is no longer a fee to park and the parking area has a restroom (but no water).
Apache Junction
Superstition and Mazatzal Wilderness

Hike details

6.00 [Miles] Total
Hike Distance- Details
6.0 miles round trip to boulder canyon.
3.50 [Hours]
It took us three hours and thirty minutes to do this lollypop loop hike (with a 15 minute stop for lunch)
Elevation Change
1,100 Total gain/loss [Feet]
Elevation Loss
550 Total Elevation Loss[Feet]
Elevation Gain
550 Total Elevation Gain [Feet]
Hike Trail Type
  • Out and Back
  • Lollypop Loop
Special Features
Wild Flowers
Rating details
This is an especially nice hike during wildflower season (spring)


Best Season
  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • October
  • November
  • December
Worst Season
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
Season Details
You can take this hike in the summer if you start very early. Best season is in spring when the wildflowers are out or after a rain (when the desert washes have running water in them).
Date Hike completed
February 14, 2008


Solitude Details
First Water is a very popular trailhead so expect to share this hike with 20-30 other people.


Difficulty Rating
difficulty detail
The hiking is relatively flat and the route finding is made easier with the signed trail junctions. This is a Moderate difficulty hike simply because of the distance.


Skills Detail
Bring plenty of water, as there is none available at the trailhead.


Permit Info
No permits needed
Be Aware of
route finding

Hike Boulder Canyon in the Superstition Wilderness, Arizona.

This hike features a well marked trail and wild, wonderful Superstition Wilderness desert. This is a great trail to take in the winter after a rain, as Boulder Canyon sparkles with clear water and the brown desert turns green. There's several trails in the area, so you might want to use the map.  The first water trailhead leads to a fork after about 0.2 miles of hiking (on the map marked as Jct1). Stay left here for the second water trail. After about 1.4 miles, this trail forks again. Stay left to stay on the second water trail (marked on the map as Jct2). At 2.8 miles, you can see Second Water Canyon enter from the right. The spring feeding this canyon is a short distance from here. Continue on to Boulder Canyon, which is dry most of the year, but can run after rains. This is an exceptionally colorful hike after a rain, as the desert becomes multi-colored for a few days before returning to normal. Snap a few pictures and head back.


Swap Start/End
Adding markers to the map ...