Flatiron Hike – Superstition Mountains, Arizona

November 2015

My parents live in the far east valley of the Phoenix area and have an awesome view of the Superstition Mountains, which are a very rugged mountain range that is prominently featured to the east. I have always wanted to tackle one of the more famous hikes in them there hills – the Flatiron Hike.

Flatiron is one of the prominent peaks that you can see as you view the Superstition mountains from the east valley. It is in the shape of an iron, thus the name. The hike to Flatiron is via the Siphon Draw trail that starts in Lost Dutchman State Park.

For years I have heard of this hike, yet I never attempted it. It is one intense hike. 6 miles round trip, which isn’t bad. What is the killer is the 3,000 feet vertical ascent, most of which you do in a little over a mile. So it is basically straight up. Oh, did I mention there are large sections where there is no obvious trail? And you do a lot of rock scrambling and even have to scale an about 8 foot cliff at the very top. Yeah, it’s definitely not a hike to be taken lightly.

Jeff and Deb, a couple I first met at the ABQ Balloon Fiesta, were staying in the area as Jeff was participating in the upcoming Arizona Ironman. Deb suggested she and I attempt the hike as Jeff was off training for his “little” triathlon. So off Deb and I went with a morning start to tackle the mountain.

The hike up was fairly uneventful. And by uneventful I mean it was a severe hike that had sections that made me wondering what in the heck we were doing. As this was a Sunday, there were a decent amount of people on the trail. So when there wasn’t a discernible trail, we were able to kinda-sorta look up and see where others were and figure out how to get up to them.

After about 2.5 hours we had made the 3 miles to the top and were rewarded with a spectacular view. We walked around a bit. Sat near the edge and enjoyed a great view as we caught our breath. Then we headed back down.

Once we were about level with the base of the Flatiron peak, Deb slipped on a rather large bolder and fell on her right side. At first we both thought she was OK, until she looked at her right wrist and I heard Deb swear for the first time ever. Her wrist was broken and in the shape of a Z. I don’t do well with these sorts of things and as she tells the story, she thought I was going to lose it. I didn’t. Instead I took off my backpack and dug out the extensive first aid supplies I carry. Now we know why I carry a backpack full of goodies. 😉

Long story short (Deb has an extended version on her website), we got her wrist stabilized and with the help of a couple of very kind gentlemen we worked our way slowly down the very steep mountain. The descent took about 5 hours of very slow going.

Search and rescue was called soon after we got Deb stabilized, but by the time they made their way up to us, we were almost to the bottom of the mountain. We had descended through all of the steep and rough terrain and met the help at a fairly flat section of the trail. They took over Deb’s care and took her down to the waiting ambulance.

Yeah, that was a bit more of an adventure then either of us bargained for. The hike up was incredible. The view was breathtaking. The descent was tough before the fall, when it became very difficult for Deb (though she handled it with incredible courage – MUCH better than I would have!).

So I finally have hiked the infamous Flatiron. Not sure I need to do that again.

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