Location: Apache Junction, Arizona
Length: 6.2 miles
Elevation: 2,933 feet
Cost: $7 per car
(above stats gathered from AllTrails)
More about this hike to Flatiron...
Overall Difficulty: This is one hike rated Difficult on AllTrails that actually is rated appropriately. Taking a beginning hiker here would definitely overwhelm them.
Recommendation (on a scale of 1-5): Flatiron is my favorite hike that I've gone on to date. Therefore, I would give this a very enthusiastic 5!
Permit Info: You will need to pay $7 for parking as you enter.
Parking: Plenty of parking spots available
4x4 Vehicle: Not Necessary
Kid Friendly: Would not suggest this for children
Dog Friendly: Yes, however I would not suggest bringing any dog that isn't extremely athletic. You will need to use your hands to climb and might not be able to help your dog at the same time.
Cell Reception: No
More About My Experience...
For those unfamiliar with this notorious rite-of-passage hike, Flatiron is located at the Superstition Mountains. As a general note, you just can't go wrong with the Superstitions – you'll notice me mention that fact more than once, I'm sure.
If you're looking for a hike that will absolutely kick your ass, but make you feel unstoppable once you've reached the top – look no further. I haven't found a hike that's made me feel nearly as accomplished as Flatiron.
There are several ways to reach the fantastic view at the top, but no one will argue that Siphon Draw Trail is the best way to go. This isn't for the faint of heart, but it will be more than worth it. Just imagine the feast you can have for dinner after all that cardio!
It'll take you around 2.5-3 hours to reach the peak and trust me when I say, you will need gloves. Bring gloves! Let me say it again, bring some damn gloves. And snacks. I'm usually the first one to blow off the 'bring a snack' advice, but on this hike, I devoured an entire box of crackers at the top. So, you may want to be more prepared than I was on that front. Flatiron is one hike that you just can't over prepare for, but you can definitely under prepare. Don't be that person that's unprepared.
Anyway, now that I've lectured you, more about that actual hike. So, for the first half, it's pretty simple. You won't have any trouble staying on the path, but you do gain elevation quite quickly. The last stretch to the peak is where it gets its reputation for being such a challenging hike. When you're about 100 feet from the top, you're going to come face-to-face with a vertical rock wall.
If you're anything like me, you're going to think – I must have taken a wrong turn, this can't be it. Then you're going to think – Oh sh**, I guess this is it...
Now, I should say you have about three different options at this point (other than throwing in the towel and turning around). So, don't get too discouraged. That said, all of your options are horrifying as hell. Every single one.
Your three options (from what I could see):
- Straight up the vertical rock wall from Hell – Okay, it's not impossible. You'll see that there may be a way to wedge yourself between the walls and shimmy up like a spy. They're close enough in proximity that it could be done. While it does seem to be just about a 90º angle, it's a wedged little cove with leverage possibilities.
- Loose gravel to the right path – Set back from the wall about five feet to the right, there is a bit of a pathway going up. You'll be able to make it out because it's been trafficked by enough people that it's made a trail of loose falling gravel. Many people choose this route. In fact, I would say that most of the people there when I went decided to go this way. I wasn't a fan of this option. It's incredibly steep, and with all the loose gravel, it'd be easy to lose your footing and drop about 8-10 feet to the next platform. I knew my fate with this option, loose gravel is my enemy and makes me fall on my ass every time!
- Shimmying on the ledge to the left – I chose this option because it seemed the most likely for me not to screw up, but still made me feel like a badass for doing it. Set back about 7 feet from the vertical wall of death, is a small platform with a little tree on it. If you step up to there (which I just happened to for a break so people could pass by me), it leads to another vertical wall. This one is not nearly as tall, and it has about a 2-inch ledge on it about 3-4 feet off the ground. It's just big enough to turn your body to the right and place the side of your left foot on the ledge. I believe I used the tree to push off and up onto this ledge and scrambled to reach for something else to grab onto once I was up. Once you have yourself stood up on the ridge with your left foot, it's about one or two more steps, and you can lift yourself onto the next platform. Once you're up from there, it's a beautiful little leisurely path that hooks over to the right on your way to the scenic view of Flatiron.
Hopefully, this helps you access your options. I'm hardly much help without pictures of this final stretch, but I will update this post next Flatiron trip to give you a better idea of this last intimidating obstacle.
But please don't let it discourage you too much. As I said, the view and feeling of accomplishment at the top is simply bliss. I couldn't give it justice with words or pictures – You just have to see for yourself.
Just bring gloves, plenty of water, and great hiking boots. If you do all that, you'll be fine. The best of luck to you! Let me know how it goes!