Massacre Falls, and the nearby Massacre Grounds, get their name from a supposed massacre of a Spanish gold shipment by the Apaches. This is a different “lost gold” legend than that of the Lost Dutchman, which rumor has it is also in the Superstition Mountains.
I hiked from the Crosscut TH up to the fence. Instead of going through, I turned left along a very old jeep trail. After a little over two miles, just short of the horse lot, the jeep trail petered out. I looked around for a few minutes, but gave up, paralleling a wash for a few hundred yards until I picked up the horse trail between the lot and the First Water TH. I saw three ladies there, setting out on a hike, one of whom I thought might be tibber. I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t sure, and didn’t want to be a doofus if it wasn’t.
I followed Lost Dutchman Trail #104 for the half mile, then turned up the unnamed creek / canyon off First Water. That creek had steady flow it’s entire length, with some nice pools. Enough that I got my feet wet a few times as I weaved my way back and forth across the creek. GPS indicated there was a trail, but I never saw it. Brush was heavy and stabby enough that the easiest route was either on the edge of the water, or straight up the middle, depending on pool depth, available stepping rocks, and obstructing boulders. Scrambling was negligible, but it was slow going, and I had my best sweat of the day. As the canyon began opening up, I crossed a cairned horse trail. Left went back towards the canyon. (There may be a trail back, but I did not follow it.) Right turned up the slope towards the official Massacre Falls Trail.
As I hiked up the official trail towards the mesa overlooking Massacre Grounds, I passed several returning groups. I was first out earlier in the morning, but obviously had taken a less direct route to the Falls. The upside was that I had the Falls all to myself.
I got there a little after noon, and wanted to be back at the TH by 1:00 p.m., but just could not bring myself to cut my visit short. It was my first time and the water was flowing pretty good. (Though by no means heavy.) I sat up on the shelf next to the Falls. The wall fit my back perfect, so I could lean back and enjoy the soothing sound, and enjoy the scenery, while eating my energy bar and vinegar chips. When the breeze shifted, I’d catch a little spray. It was so peaceful and relaxing, that I laid down for a few minutes nap.
I finally departed about 12:45 p.m. Unfortunately, the Falls immediate vicinity is the only real shade on the hike. The 2.5 miles back to the trailhead were quite toasty. Still, I was feeling peppy, so where the trail surface was obstacle free, and either flat or slightly down hill, I jogged. (I was flashing back to Ft. Bragg ruck runs.)
GPS File: Massacre_Falls
Distance: 10.23 mi.
AEG: 1,571 ft.
Time: 4h 49m