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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Marsh

Scaling Flatiron

Scaling Flatiron on New Year's Eve: A Superstition Mountains Adventure

scaling flatiron

Lately, my husband and I have enjoyed the outdoors, including hiking, shooting our guns in an open outdoor range, snapping photos of the beautiful scenery, and taking day trips into the vast Arizona landscape. Now in our 60s (my husband turned 61 in December, and I’ll officially hit 60 in March of 2024), hiking would be our confirmation of our longevity and good health. Something we are passionate and grateful for as we age.

Our hiking adventures began in February of 2023 when we visited the Superstition Mountains at Lost Dutchman State Park. The initiation took place with the shorter version of hiking the Treasure Loop and returning via Jacob's Crosscut Trail. The hike proved to be quite energetic, creating the perfect backdrop for a memorable afternoon adventure, complete with a picnic lunch.


While exploring the trails, we couldn't help but be amazed by the imposing Flatiron, standing tall among the Superstitions, casting a shadow over our heads. It became our desire and passion to conquer and explore this amazing mountain before the year was over. Within two weeks, we were back at the park and began our attempt to hike the Siphon's Draw Trail to Flatiron. It was clear we needed to prepare for this journey and proceeded to turn back.

syphon draw trail to flatiron

We would return during the holidays. We gave it another shot on Thanksgiving Day. Though in better shape, the journey remained a bit tricky. We successfully made it to the top of Siphon's Draw Trail, but the overwhelming summit climb to Flatiron still appeared ahead and being so late in the day with nightfall upon us, we cut our attempt short. Determined to conquer the towering Flatiron, we made a pact to give it one more shot, choosing Christmas Day for our endeavor.

Unfortunately, the rain that weekend forced us to postpone our plans, setting the stage for a New Year's challenge instead. With careful preparation, including shedding some weight, ensuring ample rest, staying well-hydrated, and enjoying nourishing meals, we readied ourselves for what lay ahead. And so, our New Year's Eve adventure began.

On the morning of New Year's Eve, around 10:30 am, my husband and I were ready to take on our daring quest – the ascent of Flatiron in the Superstition Mountains. Little did we know that the journey would become a defining chapter in our lives, prompting us to get in shape for a hike that turned out to be far more treacherous than we anticipated.


Part 1: Siphon Draw Trail – The Climb Begins

Our day began at Lost Dutchman State Park, beginning the initial challenging couple of miles on the Siphon Draw Trail. The trail was steeper and rockier than anticipated, and the walk from the park's parking lot to the trail's starting gate added an additional 20 to 30 minutes. As we journeyed through the open desert, the basin at the mountain's base presented itself as both enticing and demanding. Flatiron appeared overhead, and the transition from a maintained trail to the unpredictable climb was marked by the Superstition Wilderness sign.


Despite our age and the anticipated challenges, the allure of the adventure pushed us forward. The decision to continue up the unmaintained trail into Siphon Draw became a testament to our determination, marking the beginning of a challenging ascent.



Part 2: Siphon Draw – A Test of Resilience

In the following stage of our journey, we faced a difficult 2,000-foot ascent marked by steep hiking and rock scrambling. The landscape featured everything from water-carved bowls to loose rocks and boulders. As we emerged from the canyon, a saddle welcomed us, and there stood Flatiron. Walking across its flat peak, we were rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view of the Phoenix Valley.

We hung out for a while, mingling with other hikers and enjoying the amazing landscape. Unexpectedly, we were greeted with chipmunks and other wildlife. As we stood at the summit of Flatiron, having conquered the mountain together, my husband and I shared a tender moment. Embracing with light tears in our eyes, we exchanged kisses and heartfelt "I love you's." Celebrating over 30 years of a joyous and enduring marriage, this ascent was a beautiful reflection of our shared journey, a testament to the strength of our love and partnership that helped us reach new heights. Each step served as evidence of the thorough preparation we had undertaken to conquer this unexpected adventure.

But the journey isn't over yet. We still must go back down.



Beginning our hike at around 10:30 am, we reached the summit by approximately 2:30 pm. After spending some time soaking in the view, we began our descent. The trip downhill lasted about 3 and a half to 4 hours, during which our knees and backs felt the strain. Exhausted, hungry, and with darkness setting in, we took a few breaks on our way down to ensure safety. Nevertheless, we achieved our goal – conquering Flatiron on New Year's Eve. Undoubtedly, a memorable way to bid farewell to the year!


As the sun set on New Year's Eve, we descended from Flatiron, our bodies tired, knees and backs aching. Yet, within the fatigue, we felt a great sense of accomplishment. Tackling this challenging hike in our early 60s became a personal victory, a celebration of strength, and determination. Our unwavering spirit of adventure taught us that age is just a number when it comes to enjoying the wonders of the great outdoors. The journey, initially underestimated, turned into a powerful reminder that there are no limits to embracing nature's beauty, regardless of age.  And that short 20 to 30-minute stroll from the parking lot to the trail gate? It was merely a warm-up for the extraordinary adventure that lay ahead.


About Flatiron, Syphon Draw Trail, in the Superstition Mountains, AZ:

  • Flatiron, Syphon Draw Trail, Superstition Mountains, AZ

  • 6.05 est. miles roundtrip

  • Elevation: 4860+ feet

  • Vertical Climb - 10ft rock wall near end

  • Hardest hike in the Phoenix area


Disclaimer: The experiences and challenges recounted in this blog post are personal and may vary for individuals attempting similar activities. It's crucial to assess your fitness level, be prepared with proper equipment, and adhere to safety guidelines when engaging in outdoor activities. Always consult with professionals or park authorities for accurate and up-to-date information.


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