Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hike #28: Siphon Draw Trail to Flatiron, Superstition Wilderness, Tonto National Forest

Length: 6 miles

Starting at the Lost Dutchman State Park, the Siphon Draw Trail provides an extremely strenuous climb up the Superstition Mountain. Although the Siphon Draw Trail is quite difficult, the convenient start point and trail's beauty make it very popular (and often quite crowded.)

The first mile of the trail passes through the Lost Dutchman State Park and is extremely well-maintained; this segment of the trail is a luxurious dirt path with well-defined rock borders. However, the trail soon leaves the state park and enters the Superstition Wilderness. While the trail continues with a well-marked route, the path is no long the smooth dirt but instead a series of small loose rocks. The trail climbs higher and higher getting ever more narrow and rough.

Eventually, the trail arrives at a large smooth stone basin, which after a heavy rain will have small streams of water cascading down its sides. To the left of the basin is a large waterfall which marks the official end of the Siphon Draw Trail. Although most people choose this as the turn-around point, a good many continue climbing along the unofficial "trail" towards Flatiron, a large, flat plateau on the top of the Superstition Mountain.

The unofficial trail is quite easy to follow thanks to heavy travel and a series of white spray-painted arrows and dots. Although few route finding skills are required, the difficulty of climbing makes this one of the most challanging trails in the Superstitions. The mile between the waterfall and the top of the mountain gains over 1,500 feet in elevation and is nothing more than a continuous climb up jagged rocks. Although this part is challanging and will get the heart pounding, the rocks do provided a nice climbing surface with plenty of places to clutch as you drag yourself up the mountain.

Finally, after climbing until you think you can go no further, you arrive at a 12-foot rock wall that proves to be the most difficult obstacle yet! Although not impossible this rock wall is by far the most vertical challenge encountered on this trail. Fortunately, immediately on the other side of this wall is the top of the Superstition Mountain and a large flat plateau (and trust me, after climbing for what seems like forever, the flat land will be something to rejoice over!)

The large plateau area to the right of the trail is known as Flatiron, and provides thrilling views of the entire Superstition Wilderness and Phoenix Valley. Flatiron makes a perfect resting point, although I'd advice those with vertigo to stay away from the plateau's steep cliffs! After a well-deserved rest, it is time to retrace your steps down the mountain. Although not as physically exhausting, the route down requires careful footwork and can take considerable time. However, once arriving back at the waterfall and stone basin, the smooth, well-developed trail returns for a speedy exit.

To view more pictures of the Siphon Draw Trail, click here.


18 comments:

  1. Nice blog, your pictures are beautiful. My husband and I hiked up to Flat Iron last March and found the views fabulous. The hike is a killer and when I came down I said I'd never do it again...but I'm training for our visit in three weeks.
    --Mary--

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    1. I did this trail 16 years ago and said the same thing... Never again. Made it to the top of Flat Iron yesterday. Well worth the climb.

      Dean

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    2. Gary And Allison Phleger. Brooklyn Park, MN.March 20, 2016 at 8:57 AM

      Was a great hike. Departed from Dutchmans state park at 7:20. Reached the top by 9:20. Hiked around the top for an hour and returned to car by 12:30. Hiked with my 18 year old daughter who had no troubles making the trip. On the way up we hiked with An 84 year old extreme hiker names James Greentree.

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  2. I hiked up the SDT on Jan 10 and it was a great hike. I went left at the top of the draw and hiked the short, marked route up to the summit, then descended and hiked over to the Flatiron. As long as you're up there, it's worth the extra little bit of climbing to top out on the summit.

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  3. I live near Superstition Mountain but had never made the hike until today. My wife and I, who are not experienced hikers, made it to the top though it is a tough hike. That last 12-foot rock face almost had us turning back, but another hiker pointed out that you can use the tree to the left, which is very sturdy. Awesome and well worth it! - Steve Strickbine

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  4. I did the hike to Flatiron yesterday. Awesome experience! I carried some hot tea in a thermos and some nuts. The hot tea tasted like god's drink up at the top - I was tired and it was cold. The hot beverage rejuvenated me so much that I decided to go to the summit as well. For those who have been wimping out of this hike, hey! I have bad knees /lower back and had blisters on both of my feet but I braced myself up and reached the top in 2 hours 20 minutes. I would say if you haven't been on this hike you haven't reached nirvana in Phoenix hiking. If I can do it, you can do it. For any hiker who hikes in Phoenix area, this is the ultimate.

    I am certainly going again... wondering how I can team up with other enthusiasts...

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  5. I've been averaging about 3hrs in and out give or take a few minutes for putzing around at the top for past few weeks. I tend to go out as close to sunrise as possible and apparently I'm not the only one. Adds great variety to my normal cycling/running training. I've seen the same couple coming OUT as I'm going up at 5am and the same older hiker coming out as well. Both start between 4 and 430 during the summer.

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  7. yes, but can you walk all the way from the top of Flat Iron over to Weaver's Needle and the Peralta Canyon trail?

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    1. yes you can. Try the Superstition Ridgeline hike about 12 miles just awesome.

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  8. I did hike this place all the way till the flat iron !
    Thanks very much for the info, perfectly put up!

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  9. Well...I made the trip up to Flatiron today with my trainer and a few friends. This was more of a climb than a hike in my opinion. When I first arrived I kind of laughed to myself that there was NO WAY I could make it to the top. It looked like it was miles and miles away! There are SEVERAL areas in which you had to climb "straight up." Well, after a few rolled ankles, bumps to my shin, and spiderman-like climbing maneuvers...we made it to the top in just under two hours. Views were great. I suggest bringing Body Glide, tape for rolled ankles :), and Kleenex. Yes, Kleenex. Off to conquer my next hiking challenge (after I ice down my body)!!!

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  10. April 28, 2012...the above write up sums up the experience well! Cactus blooming, geckos everywhere, enjoyed watching the crows catch air-currents while on the flatiron, and hearing the swallows swoosh by. Great views, tough workout, and despite being in the heat of the day the temp was actually pretty much perfect...likely the last weekend til October that you can do this hike mid-day before the heat wave!

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  11. Awesome hike up today - exactly as described. Except you can actually go even BEYOND the Flatiron plateau and hike a little further UP to an American Flag at the real top of the peak. It's not visible from the plateau, so just keep going up, to the big pile of rocks... It is up and around to the left as you're hiking up. That is a KILLER after reaching the Flatiron, but definitely doable, and worth the extra effort. Between all that, by the time I got down, I had finished 100oz of water in my Camelback and a liter of Gatorade. Passed a couple of guys on the way down who ran out of water, and one seemed to be suffering some heat exhaustion. Fortunately between the three of us hiking that day, we could give them a bottle of water, one of Gatorade, and an energy gel (also helpful for this hike !!). In about 15 or 20 minutes he was sufficiently OK to make it down the rest of the way. Bring plenty to drink if you're going all the way up !

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    1. I wouldn't attempt this hike in may. Unless a really chilly day under 90 degrees. I attempted it on a 103 degree day, and was spit out at 2000ft. no bueno
      Great hike. did it last week, and doing it again tomorrow. And yeah the top is well worth the effort.

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    2. I want to hike to the top with someone thats done it before any takers?

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  12. Did this hike...I mean climb yesterday and am I paying for it today! I have hiked for many years and this is one of the toughest I have done aside from 14'ers in Colorado! As for the 12 foot wall, I actually found that going up on the right side is quite easy after taking your first big step on the first rock, I was up the wall in seconds. The view at the top is spectacular! I read somewhere you can camp at the top of Flatiron. Is that true? I did not see anyone with tent gear during the hike up. I would like to bring my single tent next time I go and enjoy the city lights at night. Oh and bring LOTS of water! I used my 2 liter Camel just as I reached the bottom near the state park line.

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  13. I made this hike in 1999, and the 10 foot wall at the end didn't exist- it was a 5 foot shelf you had to boost yourself up on. Did it yesterday and somehow now there is a 10 foot high wall! What gives? Made it with my 11 year old daughter, who is a real trooper.

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