The Siphon Draw trail is one of Arizona’s top hiking experiences. It’s one of the hardest hikes I’ve done, but also very rewarding. The trail is primarily used to make the climb up to Flat Iron peak, and takes about 5 hours to complete even though it’s only about 6 miles roundtrip. This is a very challenging hike, but an awesome adventure for advanced hikers. Being comfortable climbing on vertical rock trails is a must to make it to the top, but after reading this post, you will see how you can still enjoy it without conquering Flat Iron.
Overview: Length: 6.1 miles | Level: Hard | Duration: 4-6 hours | Elevation: 2,700
The trail begins in Lost Dutchman State Park, home of the Superstition Mountains. Above is the view from one of the parking lots and also the beginning of some of the other trail heads. Most of the trails that start here are pretty flat with a slow gradient until you get to the base of the mountain. Though I was short on time, I still opted to do the Siphon Draw Trail mainly because it just looked so intimidating and I wanted to see how far I could get before sunset. I started the trail around 2pm, which was not ideal so I recommend going much earlier in the morning so you can fully take your time and enjoy it. I however got the killer sunset!
The first 2 miles of the trail are pretty flat with a slow ascent as you make it closer to the base of the mountain. The whole way you can see Flat Iron in the distance. It’s shaped somewhat like an iron hence where it got the name! As you approach the rocks, it starts to get a bit steeper with a few switchbacks as you get closer to the basin are. The views from both sides as you can see are gorgeous!
The trail ebbs and flows up through some steep gradients and through several rockier areas. Soon you get to the basin at about the 4.5 mile mark. This is where Siphon Draw got its name. Water definitely rushes through here so don’t do this in the rain or wet weather. The basin part of the trail here is smooth and steep. I had to crab walk and climb on all fours for the majority of it. It can be slippery so be careful!
At the top of the basin, you are faced with a decision. Head to the right to continue on for Flat Iron, or head to the left to see a plane crash memorial. Either way, it’s about another 1.5 miles with the first part of both having an extremely steep 8 foot vertical climb on rocks. This part of the trail is also not well marked so it can be easy to get confused and lost. There are some white arrow markers so try to follow them as close as you can. Or, you can stop here and just enjoy this view. This is a good turnaround point if you’re not feeling the last strenuous leg.
This time, my journey stopped here. I was chasing the sun and though I felt I could make it to Flat Iron, hiking back down the steep ascents in the dark made me decide to save it for my next visit. I did find this great post here on Modern Hiker that outlines the rest of the trail to Flat Iron. And as I had mentioned, doing the hike later did have its perks– this killer sunset on the rocks! No filter needed for this beauty!
Though I didn’t make it to Flat Iron on this trip, these sunset shots well made up for it! I’ll for sure be headed up to the top next time! Additional information along with full directions and details on the trails and park can be found here.
Lissy is the owner and author of It’s a Wanderful Life, a travel and adventure website that highlights her favorite destinations, activities and photography from California and around the world.