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Siphon Draw Trail #53, AZ

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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,080 feet
Elevation Gain 1,070 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,070 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.25
Interest Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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8  2021-04-02
Peak 3845 - Superstition Mountains
12  2021-03-16
Spirit Canyon
9  2021-03-09
Superstition Peak 5024 - Siphon Draw
14  2021-02-11
North side Supes Meander
11  2021-01-03
Superstition Ridgeline
13  2020-12-05
Superstition Ridgeline
7  2020-11-06
Peak 3845 - Superstition Mountains
2  2020-10-15 Daytripper
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 34
Author Randal_Schulhauser
author avatar Guides 71
Routes 98
Photos 9,967
Trips 1,009 map ( 9,248 miles )
Age 61 Male Gender
Location Ahwatukee, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr → 7 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:34am - 7:30pm
Official Route
62 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2020 Superstition Fire9.6k

Warning the 2019 Woodbury Fire & 2020 Sawtooth Fire damaged a majority of the Superstition Wilderness.
Number One Superstition Draw
by Randal_Schulhauser

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Please post hikes past the polished slick rock basin to the Flatiron page.

Head out on the Discovery Trail for 0.5 mi close to the old Siphon Draw TH. Take a left on Siphon Draw Trail #53 and follow 1.4 mi to its end at the polished slick-rock waterfall. Return by the same route.

Siphon Draw is aptly named for its ability to "drain off" (i.e., siphon) water from a large area on Superstition Mountain. A light amount of precipitation will result in water being siphoned into the canyon draw and flow over the slick rock. I haven't witnessed the water flow from a torrential storm, but I'm sure it's nothing less than a flash flood! The slick-polished rock offers clues to the violent blasts of water rocketing through the chute. Probably not the place to be in a storm...

This hike is somewhat unique in that in less than 2 miles. It traverses a State Park (Lost Dutchman), a National Forest (Tonto), and a Wilderness Area (Superstition) while urban views of the Greater Phoenix Area are always at hand. This stands as incredible foresight by advocates and legislators to set aside these lands for public use and act as a buffer from unchecked urban sprawl. So who possessed this remarkable foresight? A timeline can provide clues for some of the names;

1903 • Construction begins on Roosevelt Dam Road (aka Apache Trail)
1905 • Tonto National Forest established to protect Salt River and Verde River watersheds
1911 • Completion of Roosevelt Dam
1912 • Arizona becomes 48th State in the Union
1939 • Superstition Primitive Area set aside as a precursor to the Superstition Wilderness Area
1964 • US Congress legislation designates Superstition Wilderness Area
1977 • Lost Dutchman State Park lands acquired from Barkley Cattle Company and others
1984 • Wilderness closed to new mining claims

For mining history "nuggets" checkout Lost Dutchman State Park Loop and the Palmer Mine Loop.

Pay the day-use fee at the Visitor Center and proceed to the Siphon Draw Trailhead parking area located at the terminus of the day-use area road. If parking is overflowing, check out either the Cholla or Saguaro day-use parking areas. There are plenty of picnic tables under ramadas, so remember to pack the cooler for beverages and eats after the hike!

The Discovery Trail heads south from the day-use area towards the campgrounds and Siphon Draw Trail #53. There are interpretive signs along this trail providing information about flora and fauna native to the area. There are strategically placed bird feeders and water ponds to attract wildlife. This trail undulates into a couple of washes and passes the campground amphitheater just before connecting with the old Siphon Draw TH at 0.5 mi.

Siphon Draw Trail #53 offers a classic view of Superstition Mountain and the distinctive Flatiron. Now heading in a southwest direction you are following the old Palmer Mine access road. You will soon reach the east boundary of Lost Dutchman State Park at 0.67 mi. Pass through the gates and enter Tonto National Forest.

About 1.0 mi from the trailhead, you will come to the intersection with Jacob's Crosscut Trail #58. Continue heading southwest along the old Palmer Mine access road. As you hike along Siphon Draw Trail #53, look back to the north to view Four Peaks. During wildflower season, the trail is lined with Lupine, Mexican Poppies, Chuparosa, and the ever present Brittlebush .

Every now and then, a steam whistle can be heard emanating from the tourist train at Goldfield. As you continue trekking towards the wilderness boundary, look towards the east for the old Palmer Mine tailings visible in the sloped talus below the massif cliffs. Just before you reach the intersecting side trail to Palmer Mine at about 1.25 mi, you will see foundation ruins on both sides of the trail. These are remains of the old Palmer mining operations and later Barkley Cattle Company line operations.

At 1.33 mi you come to the Superstition Wilderness Boundary denoted by a much-photographed wooden sign. You now walk "Into the Wild" as you enter the Superstition Wilderness Area, and the grade begins to get noticeably steeper...

As you enter into Siphon Draw canyon near 1.6 mi, your view is dominated by the obvious Flatiron massif and the subtle "Crying Dinosaur" formation (right spire in photo).

As you continue up the draw, the slick rock area known as "The Basin" comes into view. Switchbacks are none existent, just a steady grade uphill towards "The Basin". A couple of sections have minor exposure.

At 1.9 mi you reach the slick rock basin. This is a drainage confluence of sorts with a shear wall waterfall to the left and a steep grade to the right. Our dog took advantage of a pool of water below the shear wall waterfall to cool down. Take advantage of the ample shade in "The Basin", enjoy the views, and contemplate whether to push on another 1700 feet up to the Flatiron or turnaround back to the TH...

This hike can serve as a good introduction to the Sonoran Desert and the mysterious Superstition Mountains. I've brought many first time visitors to Arizona to this park and will continue to do so. Just remember that the elevation gain can be brutal on less-than-fit or non-hikers. Enjoy!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2008-03-12 Randal_Schulhauser
  • S_ldsp.jpg
    guide related
  • 2018 Lost Dutchman SP Info
    area related
    2018 Lost Dutchman SP Info
  • 2018 Lost Dutchman SP Map
    area related
    2018 Lost Dutchman SP Map
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Permit $$
AZ State Parks more info
2021 Day Use Fees range from $2–$30

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Siphon Draw Trailhead
From Mesa, follow Highway 60 East to Idaho Road. Turn North onto Idaho Road, which is SR88, and follow North 2.2 miles. SR88 bends right just past Scenic St. and Idaho continues North. Be sure to go right and stay on SR88. Follow SR88 4.9 miles to the Lost Dutchman State Park. Turn right into the park. Pay the fee, then follow the signs to the trailhead.

Free Alternative:
Utilize the Crosscut Trailhead 0.7 mi in on FR78. It is 2 miles on Jacobs Trail #58 to the junction with Siphon Draw #53. Which is 0.85 mi into #53.
2.00 - 0.85 = 1.15 mi extra each way

Mining Camp
This former free access point is now private as of Dec 2016.
2017 - cancel Christmas. It is closed.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 41.3 mi - about 52 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 134 mi - about 2 hours 9 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 186 mi - about 2 hours 56 mins
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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