Shaka Cave in the Superstition Wilderness

Shaka Cave (and a Mineshaft)


Mileage: 2.4
Elevation gain: 459 feet
Time to complete: 1.5-3 hours
Stars: ★★★½
Difficulty: 1/5 (Ratings explained)
Loose terrain, moderate incline

Shaka Cave provides a far less crowded alternative to the Wave Cave, although we admit the photo op isn’t quite as cool. That’s okay, you can make up for it with a side trip to the Dacite Cliffs Mine or make it a triple header and hit the Wave Cave, too! The trails are well-defined, but it’s hard to know which junctions to take, so bring navigation.

Although Dacite Cliffs Mine may have an opening large enough to allow entry, going into an abandoned mine could be dangerous and disturb the bats living there.

Trail Description

This guide starts at the same parking lot as the Wave Cave, which often becomes overcrowded on weekends and holidays. You can also start from the Lost Goldmine Trailhead and take a leisurely hike along the base of the mountain to join up with the Carney Springs Trail.

Carney Springs Trail

From the Carney Springs parking area, head down the very wide and well-used trail. At the junction with Wave Cave Trail, fork right to stay on Carney Springs Trail. Continue for a short time and then fork right again to go to Shaka Cave.

Trail to Shaka Cave
If you cross a wash, you’ll know you’re going the right way

The trail is well-defined, but there are some other trails going in different directions, so it’s best to bring navigation to keep you on the correct path. Soon you’ll see Shaka Cave hiding behind the bushes.

Shaka Cave opening in the Superstition Wilderness
Shaka Cave

It’s not much to look at from the outside, but it makes a fun shadow photo.

View from inside Shaka Cave Superstition Wilderness

From here, you can take the optional side trip to the Dacite Cliffs Mine

Dacite Cliffs Mine

This side trip adds 1.3 miles and 260 feet of elevation gain. Return to the Carney Springs Trail and go back down until you pass through the fence marking the wilderness boundary. Then turn left to follow the Lost Goldmine Trail.

Eventually, the trail to the mine will break off to the left. Follow it up to the cliff face, and then turn right along the base of the cliffs to find the opening to the mineshaft.

Entrance to Dacite Cliffs Mine

Peer through the gate to get an idea just how long this mineshaft is. It’s best to enjoy the mine from the outside so you can stay safe and avoid disturbing wildlife.

Map & Directions

Location Superstition Wilderness, Tonto National Forest, Mesa, Arizona

To get to the Carney Springs Trailhead, take US60 to Peralta Road and go north. Fork left, and then find the Carney Springs Trailhead on the left side before you reach Peralta Trailhead.

Fees/Passes A recreational permit is required from the Arizona State Land Department to park at the Carney Springs Trailhead. No pass needed to park at Lost Goldmine Trailhead.

Trailhead Facilities None

Download KML or GPX

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Disclaimer Outdoor activities have inherent risk, and we will not be able to tell you all the risks you may face. You are responsible for your own safety, so prepare as well as you can and know your limits. Follow this guide at your own risk. And have fun!

4 responses to “Shaka Cave (and a Mineshaft)”

  1. Shaka Cave Avatar
    Shaka Cave

    Love the fun trips and beautiful pictures!

  2. Shaka Cave Avatar

    Great guide but would like to add a few suggestions. From the outside you take the amazing Stone Lion picture by climbing up to the exact spot on the right side of the cave. Afterwards head up trail a half mile to the tallest and very best desert waterfall in the Superstition Mountains.

    1. Stacey Johnston Avatar

      Stone lion? I had to Google it, and it looks pretty cool. Thanks for the tip! As far as “very best desert waterfall in the Superstition Mountains,” have you been to Reavis Falls? Of course, as with all waterfalls in the Superstitions, you have to go at the right time, but it runs more often than the Carney waterfall. To be honest, I’ve never seen Carney running. I’ll have to put that on my goal list for the next big rain.

      1. Shaka Cave Avatar

        Stacey, yes of course been to Reavis, a magnificent waterfall that is 200 ft. tall and perhaps second favorite Superstition waterfall. Yes, Reavis gets snowmelt and longer running season. Carney Springs is taller at 230 ft., rarer flow, and more accessible than Reavis. It’s less known than Massacre falls, but twice as tall as Massacre and usually better flow because the upper canyon (Robbers Roost canyon) drainage is larger. The issue is crossing washes when Peralta is flooded on the drive in, but that will change when they develop the road in a couple years (bridges, pavement, etc. construction timeline Fall 2024 to Fall 2025). Also, the secret trail to the waterfall was known only to a few people before 2020. Had it all to ourselves for many years. This WildPathsAZ writeup is awesome but don’t want to pass up opportunities in Carney Springs. After the waterfall, can also go up to West Boulder Canyon (CS Ridgeline Trail) to Robbers Roost and down to Fremont Saddle and back Peralta loop. 🙂

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