Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,125.00 ft (342.90 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
5.50 mi (8.85 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Legends of lost gold and buried treasure give a sense of excitement and mystery when visiting the Superstition Wilderness. One of the most prominent legends associated with the Superstition Mountains is the story of the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine. It is said that the Peralta family from Northern Mexico mined rich gold ore from the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix, Arizona, in the 1840s. In 1848, during one of their expeditions to bring gold back to Mexico, the miners and their crew were allegedly ambushed, cornered, and massacred by the Apache. The entire mining party was killed except for a couple of members of the Peralta family who managed to escape. After the massacre, the Apache hid the gold and covered the entrance to the mine.  

Despite the name, the hike to Massacre Falls is actually quite pleasant. Massacre Grounds Trail is a moderate 5.5-mile out-and-back trail in the Superstition Mountains that leads to a seasonal waterfall, Massacre Falls. The original Massacre Grounds Trailhead is no longer accessible by vehicle. The old road to the trailhead has been closed, plowed, and returned to the desert. To get to Massacre Grounds Trail you will have to hike from the new trailhead starting from the parking lot at Jacob's Crosscut Trail. The Massacre Grounds Trail is on the east end of the parking lot where you will find the foundation of an old building. After hiking 0.8 miles you will reach the old parking area for the original trailhead. From the old parking lot you will find a small opening through the fence crossing the border into the Superstition Wilderness and onto the trail to Massacre Falls.  A short distance after crossing into the wilderness boundary, about 0.2 miles, you will see what is presumably an old mine shaft on the left. All that remains is about 15 feet of the tunnel. Continuing on you will begin to gain elevation as you make your way up to a vista overlooking the vast Superstition Mountains. You can see for miles from this viewpoint.

The approach to Massacre Falls can be a little tricky to navigate. The trail seems to split just before the falls. If you continue straight you will find yourself at the top of a sheer cliff; although the views are incredible, this is not the trail to the falls. If you follow the trail to the right it will take you along the bottom of the cliff and toward the mountains. The falls are a short distance from here and can be spotted if you look to the west. Most often the falls are just a small trikle of water. In the hot summer months there may be no water flowing at all. The best time to see the falls is right after a good rain or during snowmelt. 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

National or state forest pass

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Views. Seasonal waterfall. Solitude.

Cons

Seasonal flow.

Trailhead Elevation

2,100.00 ft (640.08 m)

Highest point

3,225.00 ft (982.98 m)

Features

Waterfalls
Wildlife
Wildflowers
Native artifacts
Bird watching
Mine
Big vistas
Historically significant
Family friendly
Big Game Watching

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Superstition Mountains Area, Mesa, Arizona
Superstition Mountains Area, Mesa, Arizona

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Superstition Mountains Area, Mesa, Arizona
Superstition Mountains Area, Mesa, Arizona
Superstition Mountains Area, Mesa, Arizona

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.