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Siphon Draw Trail #53, AZ

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Guide 484 Triplogs  7 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
3.7 of 5 by 67
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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
Backpack Connecting Only
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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4  2019-08-04
Flatiron and Peak 5024
4  2019-05-09
Peak 3845 - Superstition Mountains
7  2019-03-17
Reverse Flatiron
7  2019-03-10 rayhuston
9  2019-02-22 adilling
7  2019-02-15 rayhuston
12  2019-01-22
Superstition Ridgeline
4  2019-01-22
Superstition Ridgeline
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 31
Author Randal_Schulhauser
author avatar Guides 71
Routes 98
Photos 9,967
Trips 1,009 map ( 9,248 miles )
Age 59 Male Gender
Location Ahwatukee, AZ
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Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr → 7 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:09am - 6:33pm
Official Route
56 Alternative
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Number One Superstition Draw
by Randal_Schulhauser

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 it's 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. Just 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 rain, but I'm sure it's nothing less than a flash flood! The polished slick 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 to act as a buffer from unchecked urban sprawl. So who possessed this incredible foresight? A time line 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 Trail Head 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 it connects 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 is another hike that 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
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  • 2018 Lost Dutchman SP Info
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    2018 Lost Dutchman SP Info
  • 2018 Lost Dutchman SP Map
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    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.

Most recent of 111 deeper Triplog Reviews
Siphon Draw Trail #53
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Superstition Ridgeline Mini-Double
This hike is basically a variation of the Superstition Ridgeline hike. On this one, we avoid the whole car swap thing by starting at Lost Dutchman State Park; then taking the Siphon Draw trail up to Siphon Draw; then continuing up to Flatiron; and then going along the Ridgeline up to Superstition Peak 5057. From there, we retraced our route back to Lost Dutchman State Park.

This hike is called a mini-double because we do not hike the entire ridgeline twice, only a portion of it. The full double would be going from Lost Dutchman State Park to Carney Springs and back, but that is more than I care to tackle!

My Garmin GPS recorded this hike as being 16.8 miles with an AEG of 6,400 feet. After factoring in all of the rock scrambling, I will say that this is probably the most strenuous day hike in the Valley.

It was a super day to be up on the Ridgeline -- the temperature was nice and it was breezy enough to counteract the full sun. It was really hazy looking down below the ridgeline, especially when looking to the south.

Edith -- my hiking partner on this day -- should do fine on her upcoming one-day Rim-cubed hike at the Grand Canyon!
Siphon Draw Trail #53
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With the promise of some not quite Arizona friendly weather I decided to enjoy it by trekking across the ridgeline and back. I got a start around 6:10 from Lost Dutchman. It was incredibly windy all the way to the basin. From there until the ridgeline the mountain absorbed any winds being sent towards me. I changed out of my trail runners at the basin and threw on my approach shoes for the climb up to the second saddle. I usually switch back to trail runners when heading out onto the ridgeline but decided to stay in the approach shoes. Turns out I pounded out the rest of the trip in them.

The return trip back to Lost Dutchman was a race against the approaching weather, which I lost. Ducking down from the Second Saddle to return to the basin and the skies opened up on me again.

Siphon Draw Trail #53
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Wayne's Rock
This was supposed to be Wayne's Memorial hike to take some of his ashes up the Draw... except his sister didn't realize that what she thot was a box of silver were his ashes as I thot Mia had them. Oh well. We decided to do this hike in his honor anyway but we had intended to go further.

Mia, Wayne's daughter, and Anya her daughter and Mia's boyfriend Joseph and GuRa and Ambika and me took up the Siphon Draw Trail a little after 9. We had intended to make it up to Siphon Faucet. We started out and though it was a little warm, it was breezy. Joseph ran ahead and would meet us up there. We slowly made our way up the hill and the temperature slowly warmed up. This trail is a somewhat steady incline and not the smoothest. GuRa ended up talking to someone he used to know but it's been over 15 years so Ambika went down to join them.

They eventually headed back up to where we were and as we were making our way up by the Gatekeeper, Mia whined just a little which gave me the opportunity to suggest we just go to Wayne's Rock. When we hiked this back in 2004 together (Wayne, Mia and me) Wayne saw this light under some boulders to the right (south of the trail) so we hung out down there back then and took several pictures. You have to hit it just at the right time for the light to fill the underneath of this area. Wayne was notorious with finding unique things like this when we hiked.

Well it was the perfect place to call it good so we hung out for a long break, took some pictures and just talked. I see there is more graffiti on the underface of the boulders so that's a bit disappointing. We headed back down and Mia's group had lunch while I packed up Tonto Jr. Kelly came back from her hike and joined us for a bit before we all went our separate ways. Mia's group went for ice cream, my group less Kelly went to Mammoth Saloon for lunch and Kelly went home for a nap and football. We saw Larry's vehicle at the Bluebird as we passed by.

It was a nice weekend with friends and family. My first birthday without my brother. We had planned on growing old together and traveling together as we are very close in age and very close in general. I have to admit, it's been tough having to write three obits in 3 1/2 years but Wayne's was the hardest. So thanks to those who came out and shared the celebration via a Tibberfest. It was great fun hugging everyone :y: .
Siphon Draw Trail #53
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Jacob's Treasure Prospectors
Wanted to do a quick hike before the Tibberfest so that I would be at the Campground for any early arriving guests. As I was preparing to leave I asked Larry if he wanted to come along. He hadn't finished his coffee yet or had breakfast but since it was a short hike; he decided to keep me company.

It's a bit of an adventure getting out of the campground but I knew about the area we needed to be so we headed in that direction and made it to the gate. As we were walking up the trail a hiker told us he was doing the Ridgeline. He had parked his car at Carney and rode his mountain bike around. I'm thinking he's already done a lot for the day and now he's doing the ridgeline. Wow.

It was a nice morning as we intersected from the Siphon Draw Trail to Jacob's Trail and headed northish. We followed that around to the intersection with Treasure's Loop. We only encountered a couple hikers by this point. We headed up Treasure Loop in and out of the sun and were able to get a couple cool pictures of the sun peeking thru the rock formations. We hooked up with Prospectors Trail and were in the shade all the way down to the Siphon Draw Trail.

And this is where the hordes began; they kept coming and coming. We made our way back to the campground where we ran into Karl and Kathy gearing up for their trek today. I was surprised they were starting so late but they can handle the heat. We wished them well.

Larry finally got his breakfast and I had some coffee. We chatted for a few hours before the first guest arrived. Eventually the others would come in after their hiking or chores or work. We had a great taco dinner, then some of us went to hear Dr. Sky where we also got to see the Space Station flyover as it was flying above San Francisco toward us. It's a bright white light; you wouldn't know it's the Space Station really but you can see it's flight path. Thru the telescope we got to see Saturn and the Andromeda Galaxy (2.5 million light years away). When we got back lots of folks were still hanging around so we visited some more. Tibberfest was not only for my birthday, it really was in honor of my brother's belated 60th birthday that he didn't get to celebrate and this was also his celebration of life as they say.
Siphon Draw Trail #53
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Picketpost and Flatiron
Interesting tidbits:

Picketpost time - 1:59
Flatiron time - 2:22
Left Picketpost summit at 10:12AM and on top of Flatiron at 1:08PM :scared:

I have been meaning to do this combo for quite some time. Needing some me time today I decided to tackle it. I knew that I had to drive out to Picketpost first otherwise the temptation to just go home after Flatiron would be too much. Superstition was quite alluring this morning, however, with the cloud cover that lingered across the ridgeline.

Arriving at the trailhead I was the only car there besides a FS truck. I started up and much like is always the case for me, I blazed a path from the slick rock area to the top. This time, however, I went up a brand new area for me. When you reach the top of the slick rock there is a drainage to the right. I started up that and wow, it turned into an adventure. Lots of climbing, lots of exposure at times, and lots of cliffs. It was fun but really slowed me down.

I hustled back down the mountain, stopping a few times to look at some interesting rocks.

I made it to Lost Dutchman and was shocked that the parking lot for Siphon Draw was nearly full. I figured I wouldn't run into many people on a weekday. I counted around 55 people before I lost count on the way up. Up top I talked to a few friendly faces and then made my way back down.
Siphon Draw Trail #53
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Today seemed like the perfect time to check this one off of the list; and probably the last day I'd have the weather on my side to do it before Kilimanjaro. I started up around 7ish in the morning. Ran into a few familiar faces on the way up.

Reaching the second saddle I had a bit of difficulty locating the actual trail. Everything is so overgrown that it makes it hard to see. I started cruising once I found the trail and made it to 5057 in a little over 3 hours. I hung out on top of 5057 for a few minutes then made haste on my way back.

I unfortunately had a run in with a cacti and had to pull up to pull out the spines. It was just superficial damage and away I went as I still had several miles to cover. I reached the point of the ridgeline that I believe is the most photogenic and reach for camera, that was attached to my hip belt... but wasn't there. It had fallen off during the pit stop and now I was faced with the daunting task of retracing my steps to find it. I made my way back through the barren slick rock section about a mile from 5057, trying to retrace my steps. I couldn't find it and decided to turn back and follow the trail as best I could... and about a minute later, there it was. Disaster avoided.

I really need to come up with a better strategy for these high AEG hikes. I cramp up something fierce on these. If I picked my leg up past a certain point it would start to cramp. I drunk 32oz of powerade and a ton of water, 2 packages of gu, and several of the honeycomb thingamabobs. It is something I hope to solve before Kilimanjaro as the summit night is something like 15+ miles and 4k of AEG in the first handful of miles.
Siphon Draw Trail #53
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Nice hike up to the saddle above the slick rock bowl with my daughter. It was pleasantly cool with a refreshing breeze. Lots and lots of people out on the trail. All the yellow wild flowers I saw carpeting the landscape just a couple weeks ago are now gone :( . I thought about going up to 5024 since it was such a nice day, but after the climb up to the saddle my daughter wasn't in the mood for that much fun. Instead we had a very nice morning hike and went to lunch. It was nice having her company on the hike instead of my usual solo hiking :).
Siphon Draw Trail #53
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Tagged the Gatekeeper on the way up and down. I have been meaning to tag these two for a little while now. I have been horribly sick (as sick as I was in Africa a few years prior) this past week. Some sort of URI and I knew that I wouldn't be able to go fast. I wanted to go out into the Superstitions, however, so off trail would force me to go slow.

The slog up the drainage from the saddle is not fun right now. It is very overgrown. The views of Flatiron and the surroundings are pretty incredible though.
Siphon Draw Trail #53
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We couldn't wait for the hail :scared: and rain to stop, so we could check out the Falls on Siphon Draw. Parked at Rick's friends from ND West of Miners Camp and headed up, met a few hikers, but very few which surprised me :) The Falls did not disappoint us :D
Siphon Draw Trail #53
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Ridgeline - 5057 - 5024
Back for some more Ridgeline therapy, but this time with plenty of sunshine and a couple of peaks!

We started off at a fairly brisk pace heading up Siphon Draw, but we bonked pretty quickly. :lol:

This hike is much better with the views! But plenty of fun either way. :D

It was a little warmer today than we are used to this time of year, but overall still really nice. Last time I brought over a gallon of water and used less than a liter, today I used all 3 liters that I brought. When that sun is beating down on you up on that ridge, you feel it.

Water is still available at 2 points along the Ridgeline trail, a drainage shortly after 5024, and the drainage you cross after dropping down from the ridge after 5057. Water also available off-trail below West Boulder Saddle.

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2018 Day Use Fees range from $2–$30

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