Length: 5.5 Miles
Route Type: Out & Back
Elevation Gain: 2,641 ft
Dog Friendly: Yes – but not recommended
Fee: Yes – amount varies
*Trail hours: 6am-10pm*
Flatiron is known to be one of the hardest hikes in the valley. You can see it peaking through face of the majestic Superstition Mountains to the east. Although it is technically not in Maricopa county and is actually in Pinal county, a lot of people from the Phoenix area come to hike it. Flatiron is a 5.5 mile out and back trail with an elevation gain of 2,641ft via All Trails.
We started hiking Flatiron at about 10:30am. To get to Flatiron you have to enter through Lost Dutchman State Park at the base of the Superstition Mountains. It took us about 45 minutes to get there from Scottsdale. We went on a Saturday in March, so we paid a $10 entrance fee per vehicle. It is $10 per vehicle Friday-Sunday (and holidays) from October to May. If you go during Monday-Thursday it is $7 per vehicle. Parking near Flatiron wasn’t hard because there are multiple lots, some closer than others. It was definitely busy, but we were easily able to find a spot. Not everyone is hiking Flatiron that parks there, so don’t worry about all the cars that are there! There are multiple other hikes in the area and there are some camp grounds too. For the most part it was just us on the trail when we started but once we reached The Siphon it was a lot more crowded. And the rest of the way there was a lot of people just because you do a lot of climbing, so usually you have to wait until the people in front of you can go, unless you can get around them.
Once we parked we headed over to the trail, which is easy to find and there is signage that will lead you in the right direction of Flatiron. Make sure you follow the signs for Siphon Trail. Most of the parking is to the north west of the siphon. follow the trail south and as it turns east. Soon you’ll cross over into the Tonto National Forest Superstition Wilderness Area. At this point the trail no longer becomes marked and maintained like in the State Park side. It’s a scramble to the top.
At the mouth of the siphon it’s relatively slick and steep. Lots of balance and leg strength will help you get up; keeping your chest over your toes is helpful. Towards the top of the siphon keep your balance as the terrain becomes a loose scree. We use the rocks and ground in front of us to keep ourselves from falling. At the top is a short saddle point and a slight down hill and hike along the mountain side. Soon we were at the base of boulders. You can tell these massive rocks have fallen into place over time. Be ready to make giant steps using all the muscles in the lower half of the body and sometimes you’ll find yourself using arm strength to pull yourself up. Our best advice is to stay to left when in doubt going up and to the right when going down. Take your time, plan your steps and look ahead.
It was in the 70’s and there were no clouds in the sky. It was a perfect day to hike! But don’t forget your sunscreen and to reapply throughout your hike. Although it didn’t feel very hot while hiking I still got pretty burnt because I forgot to reapply. I am happy we started at the time we did because if we left any later, it would have been more on the warm side. I would definitely recommend to go early if you plan to hike from March – May and September – October, especially once it gets really hot out.
Once you are done climbing it gets flat again and you can see the edge of what is known as Flatiron *victory dance*. From there it is flat and you just follow the trail to the edge of Flatiron. The view makes this strenuous hike worth it. It is worth mentioning that it was a lot colder at the top. Pack a light jacket just in case.
Going back down always is easier for me but isn’t always easy for some people because it can put a lot of strain on your knees. When we reached The Siphon on the way back down, we found it easier to almost run down it. A lot of people took a seat on their butts and tried to edge their way down that way. Either way works and I would recommend whatever makes you most comfortable.
Overall, our total time out and back was 3 hours and 41 minutes. Our distance was 7 miles and we gained 2,689 ft. This is based on my “activity” for a hike on my Apple Watch. I started my activity on my watch right when we started, which is why I believe it says 7 miles. We also parked at the parking lot that was further away.
While enjoying the outdoors it is very important to leave no trace. Make sure to bring a bag with you to throw your trash out in, stay on the trails, and don’t disturb any wildlife.
Written by Lauren