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Battleship Mountain Overview

Battleship Mountain is nestled within the Superstition Mountains, surrounded by dramatic peaks and desert landscapes. The hike itself is beautiful, and the views once on top of Battleship Mountain are exceptional. The diversity and uniqueness of geological formations in the mountains surrounding you as you hike will make you go “wOw!”. While this is a hike of its own, many of my friends have described this as the next step up on awesome hikes in the Superstitions after having conquered The Flatiron (if you aren’t comfortable doing The Flatiron, you should pass on Battleship Mountain!). There is no maintained trail to the top of Battleship Mountain and there are sheer cliffs that make up most of the perimeter of the mesa-like top of many portions of Battleship Mountain. A bit of bouldering and non-technical rock climbing will be required to get to the top; if that excites you, read on!

Logistics – First Water Trailhead (~11.5 Miles Round Trip)

There are a few different trailheads that can be used to access Battleship Mountain. My favorite is from the First Water Trailhead (parking area marked with pin on the below map), in terms of both balancing the driving/hiking ratio as well as the views along the way. From the First Water Trailhead, you will hike and connect to the eastbound Second Water Trail. The Second Water Trail will dead end at the Boulder Canyon Trail, where you will turn south and parallel the wash (sometimes it has flowing water; hike not recommended if there is even a remote chance of rain/flash floods!). Be sure to

Battleship Mountain Superstition Mountains Arizona Boulder Canyon

View of the somewhat steep entry to the abandoned trail to Battleship Mountain.

keep an eye out for the stone cairns that mark the trail as it criss-crosses the wash. While you could hike through the wash the entire way, you make much better time if you are on the trail! While any park ranger will tell you that there are a few different ways to get to the top of Battleship Mountain, my preferred way is to connect to an old, non-maintained trail that heads east from the Boulder Canyon Trail (the wash). The image to the left shows what this trail looks like as viewed from the wash (coordinates are approximate: 33.487629, -111.394712).

For most hikers, the view from the southern part of the mountain will be plenty (pictured below, right) and is of itself a great accomplishment. If you are with a larger group, this is a great spot to stop for lunch and/or a snack and enjoy the views prior to continuing on to the very top (last portion can be slower and a bit more tedious). I hiked this once and opted out of the last part of the trip to the top; a combination of equilibrium issues due to a sinus infection and camera gear malfunction resulted in me almost taking a fall from the mountainside on my ascent of the lower portion of the mountain. Whichever ‘summit’ you choose to conquer, be careful!

Battleship Mountain Weavers Needle Boulder Canyon Superstition Mountains

Boulder Canyon as viewed from the southern side of Battleship Mountain, with Weavers Needle on the horizon.

If you choose to continue to the VERY top of Battleship Mountain (far north side), proceed with caution. There is a narrow ‘bridge’ you will need to cross, followed by steep slopes with boulders scattered throughout. If you have delicate hands, you might want to consider bringing a good pair of climbing gloves. Once up the initial approach of the north part of Battleship Mountain, it will appear as if you have dead ended; a head-on approach will not be possible by mere mortals (unless you bring technical climbing gear along!). To get to the top by hiking/scrambling, you will need to round the west-northwest side of the summit for the final approach. The top will reward you with expansive 360 degree views!

Whichever ‘summit’ you choose to conquer, rest assured you will have great views all around you. To the north, you have great views of the Four Peaks Wilderness and Canyon Lake, to the east you have views into the start of La Barge Box Canyon and Geronimo Head WAY beyond, and to the south you have views of Weavers Needle and the backside of The Flatiron.

Gear and Gadgets

Check out my Day Trip Gear Guide¬†for the basics. If you are the adventurous type, you can get by without a GPS to show you the way fine. A word of caution…if you are on the Boulder Canyon Trail and you make it all the way to the junction with Cavalry Trail #239, you have gone too far! Turn around. For those with a GPS, I would bring it and load one of the routes on the websites mentioned below (if you do, beware that near the end you will be following the “lost man” route those hikers used to find their way to the top and their route does NOT utilize the abandoned trail referenced in the Logistics section of this post).

Depending on the time of year you go, I would recommend you wearing pants if at all possible. They will come in handy with fending off stray staghorn cholla, jumping cholla, and various ground level plants. Also, if you slip and take a minor fall in the scrambling portion of the hike, you will be less likely to end up with an open wound.

Battleship Mountain Superstition Mountains Arizona

North part of Battleship Mountain as viewed from the top of the southern side.

Further Reading

Leave No Trace Principles

Outdoors and Wilderness First Aid

Topographic Trail Map of the Superstition Wilderness

Tonto National Forest Website

Hike Arizona

National Geographic Illustrated Map of the Superstitions

Hikers Guide to the Superstition Wilderness by Jack Carlson, Elizabeth Stewart

 

About The Author

Jeremy Meek is a native Arizonan with a passion for adventure and discovery of unique experiences. Whether exploring Arizona or setting out on an adventure abroad, Jeremy is constantly scouting truly great adventures and experiences.

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