Take A Hike with the Highlander: Flatiron Peak via Siphon Draw Trail
Distance: 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,641 feet
Dog Friendly: To Siphon Draw - Yes! Beyond - No.
Permit/Pass Required: Yes. It is $10 per vehicle on weekends. $7 on weekdays.
Getting There: See Map
Tips: Get there early. The park opens at 6am. I recommend being there when they do. Not only will this keep you clear of the crowds (we are social distancing after all), but it will also give you the opportunity to catch a great sunrise and hike in the shade. I do not recommend hiking this when it is busy. Between the heat of the sun, the difficulty of the hike and the potential for falling rocks from hikers above you, it wouldn't be the best experience. Wear the correct shoes. My trail-runners look like dirt bike tires and I had little problems. Rocks are loose and wet rocks can be very slippery. Good tread is a MUST for this trail. Finally, once you pass the draw this trail becomes a CLIMB rather than a hike. Gloves will protect your hands, upper body strength will be put to the test, the trail can be hard to follow. And what goes up - must come down. Please only hike this if you are prepared. If you are...please continue reading for the adventure of a lifetime.
About the Hike: I started my hike around 6:45am. Surrounded by lush wildflowers, hummingbirds and honey bees, it looked like the scene out of a Disney movie with Flatiron looming in the distance. I had been eye-balling this hike for months, but rainy weather had hindered all of my previous attempts. The first mile of the hike is relatively flat as it weaves through the Lost Dutchman campground and up toward Siphon Draw. A gradual incline still had my blood pumping though and I quickly had to lose the sweatshirt I was wearing and tie it around my waist even in the 55 degree temps.
Reaching Siphon Draw was also like something out of a dream.The slide rock basin is the stopping point for most hikers with children and dogs and is a great place to catch some beautiful seasonal waterfalls and take a dip in the fresh running water. Hiking up the basin took my feet some getting used to and it almost makes you dizzy as the ground curves beneath you but it was very out of this world!
Now for the part you've been waiting for...the climb. At the top of the basin you will have two options - go right as you may feel naturally inclined to do, or go left...this is the correct option. The right side of the draw is going to not only be more difficult but the rocks are far more loose - creating havoc for not only you but the people below you. I must mention, however, if you do stay left - don't go too far left. I made this mistake and ended up bushwhacking in a while different draw when I finally looked at my AllTrails app and realized I'd made a very silly mistake. So in a sense - stay to the middle. Keep an eye on where previous traffic has went and look for the white dots (I found only one my whole hike). No matter what route you take - the only way is up so you will make it there eventually, some ways will just hurt more than others.
With my pride still somewhat intact I found the correct trail and began my climb again. This part of the trail is not maintained and will require boulder scrambling for the final mile of your ascent. It became a challenge unlike any I'd attempted in all of my years of hiking. But one that in the end would be well worth it.
At the end of your scramble you encounter one final obstacle. A boulder about eight feet in height. How does one make this final climb? Look to the left. There is a tree waiting to assist you. Use the branch to hoist yourself up (thank the tree for it's assistance) and you have officially arrived. Flatiron emerges to your left and a quick final hike to the ledge will take you to the summit. Stop here. Stay awhile. Take in the unmatched views of the valley and the Superstition Mountains. Have a snack. Ponder life. And then mentally prepare yourself for the trip back down.
Going down was almost as difficult as going up. I don't have a fear of heights but something about a vertical decent get's the already tired knees weak. Remember to use your hands. And your hind end. You will get dirty. But eventually you'll make it back to the wildflowers and the realization that you just conquered Flatiron Peak. You tested your limits and you succeeded. You will survive whatever is thrown your way. In hard times like these and in good. Be proud. And carry that memory with you for a lifetime.
Bucket list: CHECK.
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