This Underrated Hike In The Southwest Is A Challenging Adventure With Iconic Views

Looking for a unique hiking experience that features a legendary mystery and some of the most stunning landscapes you'll find on hiking trails in Southwestern America? Look no further than the underrated Weaver's Needle Loop in Gold Canyon, Arizona. This hidden gem of a trail may not get the buzz it deserves, but it promises an unforgettable adventure and some iconic views.

Weaver's Needle is a 1,000-foot pillar of volcanic rock, towering 4,500 feet above sea level within the Superstition Mountains. Weaver's Needle Loop is a 12.4-mile hike with a 2608-foot elevation gain, offering a diverse array of scenery, from massive canyons to small critters like rattlesnakes that lurk in the grass. Hikers will also see lush desert flora like the mesquite bush, prickly pear cactus flower, and the famous saguaro cacti.

The landmark of Weaver's Needle is also steeped in legend, most famously associated with the story of the Lost Dutchman's Treasure, a saga beginning in the 1840s concerning the Peralta family's doomed gold mining efforts in the Superstition Mountains. Following their tragedy, maps to the mine were lost, and subsequent seekers faced only disaster, such as a chilling number of disappearances. Decades later, Jacob Waltz, "The Dutchman," claimed to have found the gold-filled mine, with all clues pointing to Weaver's Needle as the treasure's location. Waltz's death in 1891 left the exact spot a mystery, forever linking the landmark to tales of hidden wealth. In the quest for this elusive treasure, travelerblogr Pauline Weaver made his mark by etching his name into the rock, leading to its name. 

Threading Weaver's Needle into your itinerary

Ready to tackle the Weaver's Needle Loop? Brace yourself for a full day's journey at one of the Southwest's most iconic destinations. This trail is a full day of challenging footwork — most hikers should expect to spend around seven to eight hours. However, a few hikers on AllTrails claim to have completed the loop within five hours. Starting from the Peralta Trailhead, the hike begins with a steep ascent through a canyon, gradually revealing the views of Weaver's Needle. Tackling the loop in a clockwise direction allows you to conquer the steepest segment of the hike early on while you have the most energy. Ideally, you want to begin at the coolest part of the day, just after sunrise.

The path then merges with the Dutchman's Trail, leading hikers around the base of the Needle. Hint: This would probably be a good time to keep an eye out for traces of that lost treasure. Continue for about a mile until you reach a sign leading you to the longest stretch of the Terrapin Trail. During this stretch, be patient, take breaks, and drink plenty of water. Before you know it, you'll reach Bluff Springs Trail and be on your way back to where you started. It's worth noting that the loop's terrain is varied, with sections of smooth trail interspersed with rocky and steep segments, demanding a good level of fitness, patience, and preparation.

Tips for your hike

This trail is incredibly rewarding and, most certainly, challenging. However, with some preparation, adventurers can be ready to immerse themselves in this mighty landscape. First and foremost, ensure you have a reliable map. The loop is extensive and intersects with numerous other trails; the last thing you want is to find yourself halfway along a path only to realize you must backtrack to stay on course. Such a mistake could significantly deplete your resources, and excessive sun exposure could hinder your ability to complete the hike. 

It's crucial to bring sunscreen and wear sun-protective clothing, such as UV-blocking long sleeves. And, for the love of Weaver, please bring lots of water! Hikers who have reviewed this trail recommend at least 33 ounces of water per person. Also, water sources along the trail are scarce to non-existent. Only with the lucky chance of rain will you find small pockets — likely not drinkable, so don't count on it. 

The Weaver's Needle is open for visitors year-round, and no permit is required for day hiking. You can bring your furry friends, but dogs must be kept on a leash. The best time to do the hike is from October to April, when temperatures are not as excruciatingly hot. Completing the Weaver's Needle Loop is a must-do for seasoned hikers seeking breathtaking scenery and a touch of the mystique that envelops the Superstition Mountains. Remember to look for any lost gold along the way. But be careful; after all, you're in the wild, wild West.