Today 4 of us hiked down to the Horse Mesa dam area, through Fish Creek Canyon which is also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Superstitions”. The route runs on Forest Road 80, about 2.5 miles each way (in and out). Elevation loss is about 900 feet which you need to regain on the hike out.
To reach the “trailhead” take AZ88 (Apache Trail) out from Apache Junction. About 4 miles after you cross the “ford” at Tortilla Flats you’ll find FR80 on your left. Follow FR80 2 or 3 miles until you reach a gate. (This is a good road, easily negotiable in your uncles Buick sedan.) Here’s where you leave your vehicle. There’s parking for 6 or 8 vehicles. You’re now at the “top” of the trail.
Continue afoot down FR80.
The hike is on a well maintained road which services the Horse Mesa dam on the Salt River. The dam serves two purposes. It forms the reservoir called Apache Lake, and is also a hydroelectric dam providing power to Phoenix about 60 miles away. For security reasons, hikers are not allowed to approach the dam, but the hike does take you down to the river level.
First you’ll find yourself in a steep series of switchbacks stretching about 3/4-mile.
You’re immediately immersed in an awesome deep canyon environment, about 1,500 feet deep from the cliffs above you to the bed of Fish Creek hidden far below you at this point.
I’ll shut up for a while, and just show you some of the views on the way down.
The “turn around and go home” point of this hike is the bottom of the canyon where Fish Creek joins the Salt River in Canyon Lake.
Hope you enjoyed the walk.