Superstition Mountains: Wandering to the Flatiron

Browsing through a sea of photos hundreds of gigabytes deep, my mission was to select an adventure to write about first. With memories from 48 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico, this was no easy task. With so many options, why would I pick somewhere I can see from my own yard?

Here’s why.

Flatiron View 8

Lost Dutchman State Park sits at the base of the Superstition Mountains in Apache Junction, Arizona. The campground was my home for several weeks when I moved to Arizona without having a place to live, other than a trusty tent. It has all the amenities needed to fool anyone into thinking you have a house (hot showers, convenient places to grill food, etc).

Lost Dutchman info

Any of the trails in the park offer great opportunities get up close and personal with the desert. The visitor center offers a gentle reminder that the majority of plants, animals, insects, and weather you come in contact with may be very beautiful, but can also probably hurt or kill you.

Lost Dutchman Map

The Flatiron is technically outside of park boundaries. describes the the trail as a “5.5 mile out and back trail… that is only recommended for very experienced adventurers.” The elevation gain is 2818 ft.

If that doesn’t sound challenging enough, follow these extra directions from a crazy local.

1. Take the road that goes to First Water Trail Head (it’s about a mile past the State Park entrance on Highway 88).
2. Park in a turn out.
3. Pick up Jacob’s Crosscut Trail to Siphon Draw Trail.

The road to First Water is graded dirt, so bringing a Volvo TP21 (or the off-road capable vehicle that you actually own) isn’t a necessity, it just makes it more fun.

This adds about 1.5 miles each way to the hike, but the additional mileage is relatively flat and makes for some great scenic trail running. Don’t forget about photo opportunities. It might also remove the ability to pay the park entrance fee.

Superstition Cactus 2 Jacob's Crosscut Trail

The dry slick rock waterfall is supposedly the end of Siphon Draw Trail, but the Flatiron looms high above.

Slick Rock Dry Waterfall

Exit the waterfall area on the right, and there is a lot of ground to meander around on, as well as some faint, unnamed trails to follow (or not). That is where I came across this tiny cave-like formation.

Flatiron cave Flatiron rock

This area below the Flatiron has some interesting debris strewn about. On Thanksgiving Eve 2011, a small plane going about 200mph crashed into to the Flatiron, leaving a burn scar on the mountain that lasted for months, and killing all six people on board. There were three children, their dad, and two other adults.

Flatiron Ornament Flatiron Watch Flatiron Hat

One can’t help but remember this sad event when a Christmas ornament is found high up there, though it and the other trash (water bottles/ beer cans/broken cell phone/clothing/etc) is most likely not related to that event and makes me want to hand out trash bags… Please respect the planet and do not contribute to this problem. (End of tangent.)

I’m not sure who this is, or where their cross was originally placed.

Flatiron Cross

If wandering aimlessly through the desert doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, continue on with the business of climbing up. Just don’t forget to turn around occasionally to admire the view of the city below.

This is the Flatiron Flatiron View 1 Siphon Draw Trail 2

This is one of those hikes that will most likely take hours to climb up and only what seems like a few minutes minutes to get down. If you’re competitive, challenge yourself and see how fast you can make it back to your vehicle!

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