According to the “Hiker’s Guide to the Superstition Wilderness” by Jack Carlson & Elizabeth Stewart, Elisha Reavis was probably the first settler to see the falls, but author and historian Tom Kollenborn is credited with measuring the 196 foot falls and describing it’s location.
This is about a 15 mile hike with more than 3,000 feet of accumulated elevation gain and the route we chose going down was especially challenging because of a wrong turn along the way! We started at the Reavis Ranch Trail, rambling over 3.5 miles of the tan grassy sea of flowing hilltops spotted with scrub brush and chapperal.
The side trail to the falls is marked with a large cairn and steeply veers to the east, up and over a saddle, cresting with a sublime vista of Superstition landmarks such as Castle Dome and Mound Mountain. Once at the saddle, we could see the drainage of Reavis Creek and Lime Spring, each bursting with ribbons of fall colors.
The trail goes down, down, down, and down some more from here, and along the way we pass a Sinagua ruin. Near a sunny rock outcrop, the trail seems to split in two and here is where we made an error in navigation, taking the wrong way down into a drainage canyon. Soon the trail dissolved away and we were faced with a decision: continue onward toward the bottom, bushwacking and boulder hopping and hoping for the best, or retrace our steps back up the hill.
We committed to the downhill route and navigated through really tough canyon fringed with saw-blade-edged agave, hooking catclaw and prickly pear. Loose scree and sharp rocks made for slippery footing and the going was extremely slow.
Numerous times we were forced to lower our packs down a boulder field or rock wall, and then rappel down. We weren’t lost… but we sure didn’t know where we were or how we would get to the bottom. I saw the carcass of a deer, bones completely gnawed clean and part of a leg… wonder what got him?
After several hours of very difficult scrambling, we reached Lime Mountain Spring at the bottom. We found a level place to camp for the night and gratefully dropped our gear. I was finally able to determine where we were on the map, just one ravine over from Reavis Creek.
Darkness and cold came quickly and we sat by the fire, exhausted but happy to be back in the Supes. I baked a large potato with cheese and venison for dinner and then happily retreated to my sleeping bag for a night of stargazing. It was a new moon – just 1% full, so the conditions were perfect and the stars and planets absolutely brilliantly bursting with light. Saw several shooting stars and lay there struggling to keep my eyes open for as long as I could, staring up and contemplating our little speck in the universe.
The next day was an easy hike to the next campsite along Reavis Creek and just a half mile from the falls. Along the way we passed dramatic desert ridges lined with countless saguaros bathed in sunshine, remaining motionless only because they were enjoying it.
We dropped down into the canyon and were soon immersed in a sylvan corridor of large trees that drooped from the weight of their leaves, bursting with joyous color that seemed to betray their brooding posture. Dense growths of happy vines and shrubs lined the gently tumbling waters of Reavis Creek.
The plan from here is to follow the creek up about a half-mile, to the falls. We jumped from boulder to boulder, ducked under fallen trees, skirted across the edges of pools and picked our way forward.
Every tree and flower and vine and ripple of the water seemed to be grateful for their spot along this lovely creek!
Multicolored leaves constantly wafted down upon us like confetti, and the dappled sunlight amplified their entrance with mini spotlights.
Finally we round a corner to see a noble entry of high canyon walls framing the falls! It’s a spectacular sight and impossible to capture with a camera.
The water was running at just a trickle, but spraying and plummeting over an escarpment, dropping pretty much unbroken, into a pool at our feet.
I lingered at the falls for a long while – feeling grateful for the good health and fine environs that I’m privileged to enjoy. It was a difficult journey but well worth the satisfaction and memories I received.