Siphon Draw to Flat Iron
If you have spent any time in the Phoenix area you would be hard pressed to have not noticed the iconic Superstition Mountains. Sitting in the East Valley the peaks over look the city often treating locals to breathtaking views of the sunrise, or on those rare stormy days you can watch the clouds roll through the Superstitions like an ocean wave.
Lucky for us there is a trail, or at least some resemblance of a trail that will take you up to Flat Iron. Leave your little ones at home, hitting 4861 feet in just under 3 miles this hike will constantly remind you how out of shape you are. There are several options to get to the Siphon Draw Trail, however the most popular route is from the Siphon Draw Trail Head located in the Lost Dutchman State Park (Because it is a state park there is a fee to enter, when we went it was $7.00 per vehicle). When you enter the park they will give you a map, follow the road to the Trail Head.
The hike will begin in a very well maintained trail taking you from the parking lot up into the foothills of the mountain, you can see Flat Iron off in the distance.
This trail can be annoyingly crowded, but press on, as you get a little further up the trail the faint of heart will turn around and head for home. Eventually you cross an invisible line, no really I swear its there, that brings you out of the state park and into the Tonto National Forrest (this is important because it means you can now backpack overnight). As the Siphon Draw Trail comes to an end you will find yourself in this amazing “bowl” of slick rock. The walls of this canyon are covered in markings from dried out waterfalls, One of these days I will head out there after a good rain fall and see if they are flowing. I am not exactly positive where the trail officially ends, but I think it is a safe bet to say from this point forward it will be more of a scramble than a hike.
Follow the obvious progression up through the valley and begin searching for the blue dots. Apparently the lack of box cars and overpass signs in the area brought all the taggers up to siphon draw! The peak of Flat Iron will begin taunting you like a bully on acne. As you climb further and further the summit hardly seems to get any closer. Finally after finding all the dots you will see the peak off to the right, and even people up there if there are any. You think to yourself FINALLY all that hard work and I am there….wrong! You must now face “The Wall”, a 12 foot (give or take) wall and your only option is to press on and go over it. This comically becomes the topic of conversation from fellow hikers passing you on the way down. I wont post a picture to keep some mystique about it, but I will give you a tip. You have two options here, a tree to the left can be used as a playground jungle gym apparatus or a small crevasse of boulders to the right that you can free climb. Being the monkey of the group I tried both to get an idea of what would be best for the rest. In my opinion the tree is very easy IF you have upper body strength, so be honest with yourself if you can do 4 or 5 pullups right now then have at it. If not then take the option to the right. There are several foot and hand holds to find your way up, stay close to the wall on the right.
Now you have made it, follow the short trail over to the tippy top of Flat Iron. You will notice as you come up over the ridge there is a dark “burnt” spot along one of the small peaks that sits just behind Flat Iron, this is where the small plane hit if you remember hearing about it in the news just a while back (As of February 2012 this area was roped off and they request you stay away from the area as they are still performing an investigation). Once you get up to the summit you will instantly understand why you just punished your self working your way up. The views are breathtaking and give the impression that on a clear day you could see from Tucson to Flagstaff.
Some things to keep in mind
- Although it is only a 6 mile round trip hike you can plan on it taking most of the day so start early
- Bring some lunch for the top of Flat Iron, you will not have a better seat in town
- You will want 3-4 liters of water depending on the weather.
- The hike up to the “bowl” area is kid friendly, however I would not recommend taking a kid much past that unless they are experienced hikers.
- All of us in the Backpack 6Pack hike with our dogs, depending on the agility and stamina of your dog you may want to leave them behind on this one. The most challenging part will be the wall. You will need to carry them up the wall with you, unless of course they are part mountain goat