A short, popular hike to a unique rock formation.

Statistics

1 - 2

hrs

271

m

271

m

16

max┬░

Difficulty

FATMAP difficulty grade

Difficult

Description

The Wave Cave is a popular hike at the base of the Superstition Mountains on the edge of the Phoenix Metro Area.

At just 3 miles and 890 feet of climbing round-trip, this short hike is relatively manageable and thus attracts plenty of hikers every day of the week. The objective is the Wave Cave itself: a rather large opening in the side of the mountain with a rock feature in the cave mouth that looks like an ocean wave breaking on the shore.

Standing on top of the wave and pretending to surf is a popular Instagram photo op. Despite the seemingly short distance, reaching the Wave Cave is far from easy.

The initial approach begins on a mellow grade on a wide trail, but as you approach the mountainside, the grade gets progressively steeper until you're ascending steep rocky ledges, rock gardens, and rock steps on a narrow trail.

A few spots may require a hand or two, but this generally isn't a very scrambly route. Even so, the steep final pitch can prove challenging for the uninitiated, but most determined hikers with reasonable fitness will have no problem reaching the cave. The only compounding factor is the desert heat: there's no respite from the intensity of the sun until you reach the cave itself.

If you attempt this hike in the heat of summer, consider leaving at sunrise to make the most of the coolest part of the day.