Within the Superstition Wilderness, you can voyage a hike that leads to a cave with bewildering views and feel like you’re on top of the state with an 872 ft elevation gain. Up in the Wave Cave trail, you can witness a wave-shaped rock (yep, like a wave in the ocean) that you can hang out on. It’s a nice shadowed escape from the rest of civilization and it takes you on a walk through the desert wilderness to a steep trail, but the climb is so worth it.
About the Wave Cave Trail
Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation gain: 872 feet
Route type: Out and back
This hike is okay for dogs, but the dog must be on a leash.
How to get there
Since this hike is known to be highly trafficked, the parking can get limited, so always best to get there early, but lucky for me during the time I went during the noon, I got parking.
To get to The Wave Cave Trail, you’re going to have to go through a dirt road and do some off-roading. I’ve seen some sedans drive through the road, but a midsize SUV or SUV or pickup truck is best suited to drive through these roads and there are some dips to look out for.
It’s fun driving through here and blasting some music in your car though and be ready to see scenic views of the Superstition Mountains around you (you’ll see these up close too as you hike on).
I used these coordinations on my GPS to find the trailhead of The Wave Cave: 33.38569, -111.36300
Once I got to the parking lot, I immediately got confused about where the trailhead was. There is no clear marked sign to say the Wave Cave trail is ahead, but if you see right the opening right by the parking lot, if you get through there, that should lead you to the trail.
I hiked on and it looks like you’re walking through an open road but rest assured, you’re staying on the right track. This part is the easy part and it’s going to be a flat surface.
It gets more narrow and when you find a barbed wire that has a sign that says Superstition Wilderness, you are going through the right way! Walk around it to the left. It may seem like a closed-off area, but it is just to protect the area.
You will keep walking bush to bush and by trees. During the time of March, as I went during this month, you’ll get the chance to admire the yellow wildflowers around you. It’s lovely. To not lose your way (it won’t be easy to do this), use rocks with the painted white arrows to guide your way.
You’ll soon see you’re gaining more elevation as you turn back around and see the mountains below you. Keep on going. Then, it gets tougher when you start to see boulder rocks in the way of the trail. From here, you have to literally climb up over. It’s not going to be super rocky yet, but you’ll come across small loose rocks in the way.
By mid-point of this hike, you may come across a beautiful towering boulder rock that sticks through the air. You can climb up here and use it as a platform to sit and enjoy the views. It’s also a perfect photo opportunity as you can see below.
I used a cellphone tripod with a Bluetooth remote and set it up by the adjacent boulder to capture the pics since I was solo.
Hiking up and down to the cave
It gets steeper and steeper as you go up. You’ll notice when you have to start climbing up. The views start to look even grander from above. I did not think about this prior to the hike, but wearing gloves will be useful!
As you scramble, you may be using your hands to get up over the rocks and the same would apply to you as you hike down. This is great for protecting your hands and keeping it from getting dirty too.
If you’re like me who still questions their balance on trails if it’s steep, I do tend to use the technique of crouching down or almost ‘crawling’ to get down. It’s going to take you longer to get down than to get up here to the cave.
But, when you finally get that glimpse of the cave, which you may think you’re almost there…. Until you realize you still have to keep hiking up… and then when you finally do, you’ll be amused by the wave-shaped rock!
The views are spectacular from the cave and you’ll mostly be in shadow inside the cave, but it gives you the shade and coolness you may need if you hike on a warm Arizona day. I love sitting on the ‘wave’ and reflecting on how beautiful my state truly is and nature in general.
Watching the sunset come down in the Wave Cave Trail
One thing I did during this hike was watching the sunset come down and it’s something I realized I enjoy while I’m in the Superstition Mountains. The sunset views and the green atmosphere from mid-way of the trail is a lovely combination to see (this is where you have passed by to go up to the cave by the cool rock photo spot).
Someone commented on my Instagram post on this and said it reminds them of Asia! That’s what I thought too and that’s the beauty of the Superstitions is for one minute you can feel like you’re elsewhere than the Arizona desert.
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Arizona’s desert is unlike any desert you’ll find in the world. So lucky to say this place is right in my backyard. ⛰🌼🌞 Once sunset hits by the Superstitions and everything gets darker, you can pretend you’re elsewhere in the world like Australia or Africa. Can’t explain it until you get your ass here. #desertvibes #thebestplaceintheworld
What to watch out for
This hike is known for rattlesnakes that pass by and it’s best to hike this before they start coming out by mid-March to April, but could also depend on when you hike it. As I said, going earlier is always best.
Rattlesnakes love to come out in the warmth and high temperates of 80 degrees is a wake-up call for them. When you go earlier, you can get cooler temperatures.
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This one particular hike is one I been wanting to go do in a little over a year (I knew about it but never took the effort to seek it out). For some reason, I had too many cancellations on it but I decided… why should I wait to do something because others can’t do it with me? Those who know me, when I say I’m going to do something, I go ahead and do it. 🥾 You should never have to wait for others if you badly want to do it. And honestly I been so used to the idea of being solo that it’s not a bad thing to have “me time” a lot. I especially love it when it comes to being outside. I just feel like I can rejuvenate my mind, re-charge, and appreciate things in silence. I do sometimes think how nice it would be to share certain memories and views with others but sometimes, I just feel way too blessed to witness things for myself. This hike was scary climbing down from the cave and also super gorgeous for the views. 😍 #wavecave #superstitionmountains #caves #desertvibes
Watch me hike this
Want to go on a hike? Rent a car!
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