The Quick Stats
Distance: 2.8 miles out & back
Elevation Change: 567 ft
Type: Gentle uphill grade
Restrooms at the Trailhead: yes
Trash Receptacel at Trailhead: yes
Water at the trailhead: no
Dogs allowed: yes
Parking lot: yes
Hiker’s ledger: no
To get to Hieroglyphic Trail in the Superstition Mountains from the Phoenix Metro area you’ll take the US 60 East towards Globe, AZ. It’s easiest to follow the directions from Google or Apple Maps that we have lined below. You’ll exit the highway in town of Gold Canyon. There are street signs pointing towards the trailhead and numerous NO PARKING signs on the road. The navigation app of your choice will lead you through the neighborhood and to the trailhead. Checkout the Satellite view on maps to see the size. The parking lot is medium sized but will probably fill up quick in the perfect weather months.
To start, we should clarify that although the trail is called Hieroglyphic Trail, the focal point, ancient drawing on rocks, are technically classified as petroglyphs. We aren’t sure where the name for this trail came from, but hieroglyphs are specific to ancient Egypt and a complex writing system they created.
We were up early this morning in late May as we knew the intense Arizona soon would warm up the desert fast. Our hike started a little before 6:40am after checking out the signage at the trailhead. Overall the trail is quite easy to follow with additional signs along the way. In the start there is not much shade and the sun will hit us from the east as we headed north towards the petroglyphs. After not long we crossing the Tonto National Forest line into the Superstition Wilderness Area. There is a gate in place to prevent animals from crossing, please be sure to close the gate behind you.
Once in the Superstition Wilderness Area the trail remains well marked. Typical to the area, the trail was quite rocky with terrain consisting of scattered rocks and small boulders. We find these trails to be hard on the ankles in both directions and tougher on knees going down. Overall there was not much elevation gain, only 567 feet.
As we got closer to the end of the trail, were back in shade as we entered the mouth of the canyon. Along the trail were massive saguaro cactuses and in late May, most were in bloom. Closer to the petroglyphs were a cluster of stunning saguaros with towering heights, plenty of arms, and a healthy girth. Shortly there after we were coming up to the petroglyphs. Absolutely amazing! So many questions come to mind; what was their life like? What did the area look like back then? Who exactly left the petroglyphs?…
During the rainy times, there are some beautiful pools that fill with water. It had rained a few days before our hike, but not enough to fill the pools and keep them full. The canyon and pools are a natural collection point for water that runs off the surrounding cliffs sides and mountains. As you look north and up in the canyon, you can see Peak 5057, the tallest peak in the Superstition Mountains. According to AllTrails, there is a trail that leads up to the peak from Hieroglyphic Trail, but reviews say it’s quite challenging and not well marked.
It is SO important to Leave No Trace. This means to not carve into the canyon walls. We saw carvings right by the petroglyphs. This is disrespectful, illegal, and beyond frustrating to see. We also saw cigarette butts and sunflower seeds. Please always pack out everything. Having a cigarette in the wild is super dangerous and can cause a wild fire. Cigarettes also have chemicals in them that aren’t good for the soil and for animals to digest.
Check out our other Phoenix hikes.