Hike | Flatiron | Superstitions
- Length: 6 miles (round trip)
- Trailhead Elevation: 2,080 ft.
- Gain/Loss: +2,900 ft.
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Dog Friendly: No
Flatiron, aka Siphon Draw, is one of the most popular and exhilarating hikes in the Superstition Wilderness. This trail puts you on top of one of the most prominent rock features of the range called Flatiron due to the fact it looks like an upside down iron. If you are looking for an awesome adventure that is very accessible this is the hike for you.
The Flatiron trail begins at the westernmost side of the Superstition Wilderness at the Lost Dutchman's State Park. There is a $5 (as of 3/25/15) day-use fee at the Visitor Center. The trailhead is called Siphon Draw because that is the official name of the trail. It is called Siphon Draw because that is exactly what it is; a draw that siphons down water from the tops of the mountain. Also appropriately nicknamed, Flatiron looks just like an iron protruding nearly 4,800 ft in the air. Because it is a draw for excess rainwater, I DO NOT recommend this hike right after a monsoon or rainstorm of any kind. You are literally hiking right through the slick rock that makes up the draw and it would be dangerous to attempt while rainy.
From the trailhead, the hike progresses through a very pleasant southwest Sonoran Desert which is lined with yellow wildflowers in spring. You will immediately see straight east of you the massive formation that is to be conquered. Don't let the sheer size of this beast scare you off because I am telling you the thrill of accomplishment and the 360 degree views are worth it. You will make your way towards the draw and pass some really cool rock formations and two enormous boulders that have formed a nice resting spot with shade to your right. The path is wide and easy to follow at this point. You will notice the trail gaining elevation and gets much rockier the further you press on. Continue up the trail until you see the slick rock of the draw with it's black line down the middle. It is a neat sight to behold. At this point, many tourists and casual hikers will take pictures of the landscape and happily return to the trailhead. I recommend that you go the distance because it is SOO worth it (and I don't emphasize with all caps very often).
To me, the trail can be broken into two sections; the first being the section I just described in the paragraph above and then the section that scares most people back to their cars. This section of the hike really is brutal and I supremely underestimated it the morning I decided to hike it. I am 28 years old (and very active as of 3/25/15) and I stopped several times to catch my breath during the ascent to the summit. I share this with you to provide some context to what you will be undertaking and not to scare you. I suggest you bring plenty of water (I took 2 liters) and good shoes or boots.
During the climb up you will see blue or white dots on rocks which are makeshift trail markers to help guide you up the draw. Although helpful, these markers are graffiti and deface the desert and is completely illegal so please do not condone this behavior if you see people on the trail doing this. With that being said, follow the draw straight up with the Flatiron staying on your right side. You will scramble up for at least a mile. There will be several "alternative" fingering trails that typically will lead to dead ends so I recommend staying straight up the main canyon draw.
The draw is slick in places with a ton of loose rock so please go slow and don't be a macho man or woman. There are also several spots where you will need to use both hands and feet to climb your way up crevasses and in some places there are vertical climbs to ascend. Once you make it to the top of the draw there will be a trail that leads to the right and the left. Go right. If you go left there is a memorial a ways up for the members of the crashed airplane of 2011. I have not been to the crash but will make a separate trip in the future to see it. Once headed right on this trail the end is only a few hundred yards away. The trail will open up to a very wide and flat desert area. This is Flatiron; you made it! Take photos, enjoy the incredible views, slap hands, each lunch, and rest your legs. There are little critters around at the top of the Flatiron that desperately want you to feed them. Please don't. Wild animals don't need to be fed. Enjoy your time up there and return the way you came.
- Bring enough water. I took 2 liters which was just barely enough.
- Wear good shoes. The trail is extremely rocky and will get annoying after a while.
- Bring a camera. This is a must.
- The trail requires minor route finding skills and climbing abilities. If you are uncomfortable with these I would suggest a different hike.
- Start early. If you start at sunrise the trail will be shaded almost the entire way up.
- Plan on about 4 hours total for hiking and add 30 minutes to eat lunch at the top.
- This hike will be PACKED on weekends and holidays so I suggest doing this on a week day if possible.
- 360 degree views of the East Valley and Eastern Superstitions
- Easy to get to and very challenging
- Beautiful in springtime