Shaka Cave

Actually, we found the little-known Shaka Cave hike quite by accident. We were planning to hike the Hieroglyphic Trail [no, that’s not a typo, that’s how they spell it] near Gold Canyon, AZ, but we left late and the trailhead parking was full. After a few laps around the lot without success, we decided it was too busy for our liking and decided to go somewhere else. We went to the southeast side of Gold Canyon and headed out on Peralta Road 77. Some say AWD or 4WD are needed on the dirt road, but our Chev Impala made it easily since it had been dry for some time. We found parking spaces available at the Carney Springs Trailhead and put our permit on the dash. I checked the map app to see where we were and there were pins for Wave Cave (we had already been there) and Shaka Cave (we had never heard of Shaka Cave).

The beginning of the trail is very wide, flat and easy. It heads toward the beautiful Superstition Mountains and goes through a zigzag gate at the fence for the Superstition Wilderness. After this, we came to the Lost Goldmine Trail where some people use this to get to the Wave Cave from Lost Goldmine Trailhead. We did see WC painted on a rock with an arrow left. Instead of turning left, we went straight ahead on a narrow, much less used trail, with zero signage.

We spoke to a man and his son who were just returning from the Shaka Cave. It’s over there! [pointing to our right]

The trail was quite easy all the way to the arroyo (wash). It probably drains the Carney Springs Waterfall but since it hadn’t rained recently, it was dry.

In the creek, we saw this huge boulder, the size of a small house. Obviously it had been there for eons, but it reminded us of the forces of nature.

Shortly after the wash, the elevation rose abruptly and this is where the moderate rating begins. The narrow trail was sometimes difficult to gain sufficient footing, but with patience, we carefully picked our way along. And then, thinking the cave entrance would be obvious, we almost passed it. The trail continues to the waterfall which of course wasn’t flowing [might have to return for that]. We turned back and went through the thick bushes that almost hide the entrance.

I was alert for bees or other cave dwellers, but thankfully found none. The views were exquisite and we noted it was mid afternoon in January and the mouth of this cave was still shaded.

We wondered if indigenous people ever used Shaka Cave? The floor was barren dirt. There was a black substance on the roof of the cave. Smoke film perhaps? Or just patina from eons ago? A little research revealed that Salado and Hohokam people lived in the area a thousand years ago, and a cave would be a welcomed shelter. The size, proximity to a natural spring, and food made it inhabitable.

There are two mortar holes at the entrance that were probably used to grind Palo Verde and/or Manzanita, which are everywhere and were known to be staple foods.

We could see the trailhead where we parked and the path back was much easier going downhill most of the time. As the trail widened, we met more hikers returning from the Wave Cave.

This hike is 2.5 miles roundtrip and the elevation gain is 400 ft, mostly easy, but the last quarter before the cave is moderate. Definitely easier than the Wave Cave hike.

4 thoughts on “Shaka Cave

  1. Wonderful write up and pictures! This can be made a private comment because it is a correction. The name is the Shaka Cave starting with letter S. If you want people to find your blog, then I recommend changing it. I found this page, which should clear things up.


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