Flatiron is touted as one of the top ten hikes in Arizona. The route begins on Siphon Draw Trail in Lost Dutchman State Park east of Phoenix and winds through a canyon that includes an awesome slick rock basin before reaching a flat top. Flatiron is actually a feature not a summit, although a nearby high point is within reach.
Dinah and I spent a comfortable night in the park campground amid towering saguaro cactus overhead and scurrying quail underfoot. For the park entrance fee of $7, we had the privilege of hiking to Flatiron.
The Siphon Draw Trail begins straightforwardly on an obvious path with signs to guide you to the slick rock basin. Beyond the basin, routefinding becomes maddening. The trail disappears into rocks at times, or it forks, either looping back to the main trail or veering off to who knows where. After climbing above the basin, we reached a saddle. Three canyons lie ahead, but the route takes the rightmost one, under Flatiron. We scrambled down the other side of the saddle and started up a wash in the canyon.
In the confines of the wash it's easy to become disoriented. Boulders and trees limit views, and GPS can't be trusted. Somehow, somewhere, we inadvertently left the main trail and ended on a side trail that climbed a steep slope on our right. We were well above the main trail when we realized our error. We weren't too concerned, however. The side trail appeared well travelled although the route wasn't always obvious. Nor were we the only ones to mistakenly take it that day.
Then the trail hit a crux, a ten-foot vertical climb with mild exposure. Dinah found it daunting and hung back. (I don't know how the main trail fairs high up, but both Summitpost.com and hikearizona.com describe a scramble near the top.) I climbed up and came to a T-junction, a nearly level path. I turned right and walked to the top of Flatiron.
I took a few photos and then returned to join Dinah waiting below the crux. We started to retrace our steps down but found another side trail that took us more directly to the main trail (our descent route is depicted on my map). We followed the main trail all the way back to our car.
We were both disappointed that Dinah had to turn back before reaching Flatiron. We talked about returning someday to follow the main trail all the way up, as well as ascend the high point. Having ironed out the route, it should be quicker and easier.
Superstition Mountains seen from the campground
Desert scenery along Siphon Draw Trail
Flatiron is the distinct point above Dinah
Entering the canyon (click for a larger image)
Ahead is the slick rock basin
Hiking up the basin (click for a larger image)
Looking back at the basin (click for a larger image)
The trail runs left to right over this rise. I'm faced the wrong way because I'm taking photos of
Chuckwallas basking (click for a larger image)
The route follows the wash below Flatiron (click for a larger image)
Dinah starts down the other side of the saddle
I followed Dinah down
Following the main trail
We were probably off the main route here. Barely visible below is
a hiker coming up (click for a larger image)
The grade ahead eases for a while
Back onto another steep section
Spiny lizard (click for a larger image)
At the bottom of the crux, we're almost level with Flatiron
After a ten-foot scramble, it's a walk to the summit
Looking back at Dinah in the centre, at the top of the vertical white rock line
(click for a larger image)
Arrows indicates the crux. Dinah is below while the trail is visible at the top.
Dinah's view of Flatiron (mouse over to pull back)
Back on the main trail
Cairns and paint dots indicate the main trail, but the dots are faded and cairns tiny; both are
hard to spot
Eastern collared lizard (click for a larger image)
Back at the basin
Dinah makes her way down
Goldfield 1:24,000 Topo (5.7 mi, 4691 ft, 2608 ft)
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