Another glorious morning dawns, and we’re up with the sunrise. A hearty breakfast is the only way to begin this day—we’ve got plans to hit the park’s longest (and most popular) trail today. With an early start, we hope to beat the expected weekend hikers that turn out to take this well-known trek. We can connect with the trailhead straight from our campsite.
The Siphon Draw Trail climbs into the high country and passes the best scenery the park has to offer. It leads to a basin at 3,100 feet in elevation, 1.5 miles and 1,100 feet later. It switchbacks up the mountainside, curves around huge rocks and boulders, and near the end, requires a little rock climbing. But the trail is well-marked and well-traversed, so you are able to give your fuller attention to the views opening up.
Ahead lies the Flatiron, a high peak prominent from below as well as from here. It is possible to continue on to its summit, but the trail is unmaintained and not designated. It is a rough, 2.5 mile route to the 4,862-foot pinnacle, and only “experienced hikers in good shape” are advised to attempt it. Somehow, Chris thought he fit those requirements and was determined to give it a try.
I said farewell to my beloved there in the Siphon Draw. I entrusted my camera to him, requesting he bring back pictures. Take care and come back to me was also implied.
Flatiron Peak is a promontory that can be seen for miles around. It is a distinguishing feature on the western face of the Superstitions. After leaving the slickrock basin that is the Siphon Draw (which is no small feat in itself to scale), the rocky cliffs rise steeply on both sides of the “trail,” with the peak rising high above. His goal was in sight, but it would take no small effort to attain it.
He lived to tell the tale, and I will do my best to describe his Herculean effort.
Climbing the rock face was undoubtedly the most difficult part going up. Fortunately, he paired up with a guy that had done this trail before. He knew which way to go, and Chris followed in his wake. He admitted later, some of his blood was left behind, smeared on those jagged rocks.
No more photos were taken as he proceeded to the top. Once in sight of his goal he was able to take another. It shows the Flatiron Summit protruding from the mountains.
Undoubtedly the view on top was worth it. He said it was an astounding scene. The photos, he also said, just don’t do it justice, but he took them anyway. If for no other reason than to document his achievement.
And then, it was time to go down.
That was the most difficult part of all, he later admitted. Looking down, he didn’t see how it would be done and his hiking buddy wasn’t leaving yet. It took all his skill and courage to go over the edge and work his way down. It was a very precipitous drop. And this photo doesn’t begin to give the true perspective. More blood would be left behind.
Five hours after leaving, he made it back to camp. One tired, but satisfied and fulfilled guy. A little hungry too. We spent the remainder of that day in camp, reliving moments along the trail, and later enjoying the onset of a pastel evening . . . such is a good day in our travels.
Someone woke up a little stiff and sore the following morning. The other one of us had the remedy—an easy leg-stretcher of a hike. Nothing with too much elevation . . . a mere stroll compared to yesterday.
The Hieroglyphic Trail is outside the state park boundary, but within the adjacent national forest. A drive to the trailhead south of the park, taking us through some residential areas was a mere 30-minute trip. We headed out.
Besides being a relatively easy trail leading a mile and a half into a Superstition canyon, it only had a 600-foot elevation gain. Traversing more outstanding scenery, this trail offered a special feature at its end. Near the start we entered the Wilderness Area and then started up a gentle uphill trail. Almost right away you get your first reward . . . giant magnificent saguaros fill your field of vision. Now this is my kind of a good hike!
The scenery is truly outstanding and it begs you to not hurry on your trek. Take time to savor what’s before you . . . and don’t forget to bring your camera. The colors of the rock are truly amazing.
Eventually, the trail rises through a bajada into the mouth of Hieroglyphics Canyon. There you will find several rocks etched with well-preserved petroglyphs located above seasonal pools. These drawings are considered some of the most spectacular in the Valley. This location was important to the ancient Hohokam Indians, who inhabited this desert region up to 1,500 years ago. These petroglyphs are just one of the remains of their settlement.
From this scenic location you are given a long-distance vista southwest over Gold Canyon and the Gila River plain, as well as providing close-up views of the jagged upper slopes of the Superstition Mountains, rising 2,000 feet higher.
Our last day here at Lost Dutchman was nearly done. We drove home as the sun was dropping low behind us. Ahead the sienna rocks of the Superstitions were taking on that special glow. The panorama of those jagged peaks was before us, and there in the center rising highest, was the peak that Chris had conquered. He had stood on that very point! Flatiron would always be a memorable climb.
Watching the last light fall on the Superstitions,
Two tired, but contented hikers,
Melinda and Chris
Heading toward new horizons.