Fish Creek, Superstition Mountains

Arizona > Superstition Mountains > Fish Creek

The jagged Superstition Mountains and adjacent ranges, due east of Phoenix in central Arizona, have many steep, narrowish canyons amongst great expanses of sharp, eroded, igneous rock with several peaks over 4,000 feet and a dense covering of saguaro cacti. One particularly fine canyon is formed by Fish Creek, a lengthy drainage that flows from the center of the mountains in a north-westerly direction towards the Salt River, joining it just below Apache Lake.


Fish Creek crosses AZ 88, the Apache Trail, 2 miles east of the point where the surface becomes unpaved, and about 25 miles from Apache Junction; there is no signpost but it is easily recognised as the road descends steeply along the edge of a deep ravine, and crosses the streamway on quite a high bridge. From this point, about one third of the creek is downstream (north) and can be explored by scrambling down and walking along the canyon floor, which has flowing water at certain times each year, usually during spring and after the flash floods of late summer. Occasional pools and boulders provide only minor obstacles and this hike is relatively easy. The lower section may also be reached by FR 80, a side road that links the Apache Trail with Horse Mesa Dam at the head of Apache Lake.


A hike upstream along Fish Creek encounters similar rock and cactus scenery but the surroundings are just a little more rugged and remote. The canyon extends a lot further - for nearly 10 miles, splits several times and meets a few back country trails including TR 110 and TR 112, so rather more time could be spent exploring. From the Apache Trail road bridge, a faint path runs along the south side of the gorge and drops down to water level; the hike ahead then involves walking on pebbles by the stream, around boulders and sometimes passing above sheer cliffs to avoid deep water channels. The rate of progress is slower then might be expected as the rocks are large and quite numerous, and there are some places when a little rock climbing is needed. The undergrowth is thick - a mixture of trees, bushes, reeds and cacti, and wading may be needed at some times of year.
Highlights: Deep canyon through the Superstition Mountains that holds a permanent stream, forming pretty pools and small cascades, enclosed by steep, volcanic rocks with many saguaro cacti. Reached by the Apache Trail
Nearest city with hotels: Apache Junction, 25 miles
Management: BLM
Location: 33.524, -111.306
Seasons: All year; best time to visit is during spring, before the weather is too hot

Fish Creek - Photographs

  • 13 views of Fish Creek
  • photograph
    Pool, rocks and bushes
    High canyon walls

    Narrow passage
    View upcanyon
    Nearby places Similar places

    Lost Dutchman State Park (20 miles) - saguaro and other cacti near Apache Junction

    Superstition Mountains (adjacent) - desert hills east of Phoenix
    Nearby places Similar places

    Agua Fria River - desert canyon in a new national monument

    Sabino Canyon - pretty stream with pools and waterfalls, on the edge of Tucson



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