Shaka Cave, Superstition Mountains.

Shaka Cave: Superstition Mountains Hidden Cave

Commonly overshadowed by its insta-famous neighbor, the Shaka Cave is often overlooked. I’m a local and it even took me years to finally visit the cave myself! I had heard about it but never realized where it is actually located.

Well, it is so close to the Wave Cave that if you’re planning on hiking to it, you might as well add in Shaka Cave!

In this guide I’ll share with you how you can find Shaka Cave and how to combine both caves for an epic hike in the Superstition Mountains. Not only that, but I’ll share a local secret on how to also visit a nearby seasonal waterfall!

Hey! Just so you know the below links contain affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through my links (at no extra cost to you). You can visit my disclosure for more info.

Shaka Cave Hike Stats

  • Hiking Distance | 2.5 miles RT
  • Difficulty | Easy
  • Elevation Gain | 416 feet
  • Total Time | 1-2 hours
  • Permits/Fees | $15 AZ State Trust Land
  • Trailhead | Carney Springs Trailhead
  • Road Conditions | Well graded dirt road, 2WD okay. Impassible when flooded.
  • Dog Friendly | Yes

Below are two maps depicting the route to Shaka Cave, and then depicting that route overlayed with the one to Wave Cave so you can see their correlation to one another.

Trail map to Shaka Cave.
Trail map to both Shaka Cave and Wave Cave.

There are many intersecting trails in this area that aren’t shown on maps. It can get pretty confusing, so I highly suggest having this map downloaded so you can stay on trail during your hike! One way to do this is with a GPS system or app like Gaia GPS.

You can download my Shake Cave route and gain access to my library of all tracked hikes. Once downloaded, you can load it into your trusty device for ease of mind!

Where Is Shaka Cave?

Shaka Cave is located in the Superstition Mountains on the east side of the Phoenix Valley near Gold Canyon. The drive is roughly 40 minutes or more, depending on where you’re embarking from. You’ll take US 60 East until it turns into a 2 lane road.

A few miles more and you’ll turn left onto E Peralta Road. This road will lead you through a quiet neighborhood, past an elementary school, and eventually dead end into a dirt road. Once you drive this dirt road you are entering Arizona State Trust Land and need a permit.

Drive down the dirt road for a several miles, keeping left at any forks. Eventually you’ll see a small dirt parking lot (you can’t miss it) on the left side. This is where you’ll park to begin your hike.

Peralta Road doesn’t require 4×4 or high clearance and is good enough for 2WD. I’d feel more comfortable in an SUV than sedan, though. Also be cautious after it rains for heavy rain will flood parts of the road making it impassible.

Best Time To Visit Shaka Cave

Since the hike to this cave is so short, I feel like hiking to it any time during the year would be do-able. During the summer you’ll need to start right at sunrise and beat the heat. Definitely don’t hike if it is 90 or hotter out for the sun and high temperatures will deplete your energy levels quickly.

If you plan on combining Shaka Cave and Wave Cave I’d suggest doing this during November-April. The hike up to the Wave Cave is longer and rated moderate for it gets much steeper.

Regardless, I suggest arriving early for your hike on weekends and holidays. This area gets very busy and the parking lot isn’t too big. It’ll fill up by 8am!

Getting Your Permit

Not all Superstition Mountain hikes are located on Arizona State Trust Land, however this particular hike is. That means a Recreational Permit for all activities- even hiking and camping- is required. Below are the permit types available to choose from:

  • Individual ($15 for 12 months)
  • Family Permit ($20 for 12 months. This covers 2 parents and any children under the age of 18)
  • Small Group Permit ($15 for 5 days, 20 people or less)

Permits can be purchased online or in person at one of the locations listed on their website. You can learn more and purchase your permit here.

The Hike: Shaka Cave

Carney Springs Trial To Shaka Cave.
The beginning of the hike along Carney Springs Trail.

Once parked at the Carney Springs Trailhead you’ll head towards the mountains. It is very obvious where the trail starts for there are markers.

You’ll be hiking down a very wide, old, rocky road for the first mile. Once you come upon a wire fence you’ll pass through that and continue along Carney Springs Trail.

There are two trail intersections along the way to Shaka Cave.

Carney Springs Trail, Superstition Mountains.
Views off Carney Springs Trail.

At the first intersection you can choose whether you want to head to the Wave Cave (left) on Wave Cave Trail first or continue along Carney Springs Trail to visit Shaka Cave (right). I always like to start small and save the best for last, so I suggest keeping right to visit Shaka Cave!

The second intersection is not too far past the first. Here you want to turn right onto an un-named social trail. This social trail is about 0.5 miles long and takes you down and across a wash, then up some some steeper sections.

About halfway along the social trail, on the right hand side, there will be a little social turn off to reach the cave. You almost miss it for it isn’t too obvious! If you have a map downloaded be sure to reference it.

Shaka Cave, Superstition Mountains.
The entrance to Shaka Cave.
Picture taken up-trail from Shaka Cave for a better viewpoint. You can see the entrance in the shaded rock area.

From outside Shaka Cave it looks very small! Almost like you can’t even walk into it. But you can, and once inside it appears a bit larger.

Take your time inside, snap some silhouette photos, and enjoy!

Shaka Cave, Superstition Mountains.
Shaka Cave In Superstition Mountains.

If you want to continue on to a seasonal waterfall, keep reading below. Otherwise, backtrack to the Carney Springs Trail and the intersection with Wave Cave Trail. Then go visit the Wave Cave!

Connect To A Seasonal Waterfall

The half mile long social trail continues past Shaka Cave and dead ends at a seasonal waterfall. This little area is surprisingly larger than you’d think, peaceful, and shaded.

Of course you need to catch it after heavy rainfall in order to witness the waterfall flowing. When I visited mid April it was only a trickle, but the trickle was enough to echo off the tall walls and create such a serene sound.

From the Carney Springs Trail you can see it off in the distance. Notice the dark streak down the wall? That is where the waterfall is located!

You can see the seasonal waterfall off in the distance. Notice the dark streak down the rock wall?

Other Hikes Nearby:

Fascinated with the Superstation Mountains? Luckily for you there are many other amazing trails to explore. Below are great hike options nearby!

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