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Superstition Ridgeline

Difficult
 4.8 (26) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A right of passage for many hardcore hikers in the Valley of the Sun.


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Map Key

11.2

Miles

18.1

KM

Point to Point

4,813' 1,467 m

High

2,075' 632 m

Low

3,431' 1,046 m

Up

3,286' 1,001 m

Down

11%

Avg Grade (6°)

88%

Max Grade (42°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Views

Overview

While it may be considered an unspoken rule in the local hiking community, completing the Superstition Ridgeline ushers hikers into the ranks of Phoenix's hiking elite. In all seriousness, though, Superstition Ridgeline is easily one of the toughest, if not the toughest hike in Phoenix, and as such should only be attempted by physically fit individuals with an aptitude for suffering.

Suffering and glory aside, there is a reason that people attempt this grueling trek: While the route may be punishing, it rewards hikers with the summit of Superstition Peak and easily the best panoramic views anywhere in the Valley of the Sun.

Strap on your boots, fill up your water bottles, and get ready for a hike you'll surely never forget.

Need to Know

Sturdy boots or trail shoes are 100% necessary to navigate the craggy volcanic outcrops sprinkled throughout this hike.

This route is best done in either spring or fall, as the intense heat of a Phoenix summer coupled with the complete lack of shade along the way can spell disaster for even the most seasoned desert hiker. If you must hike during the summer, bring at least 1 gallon of water per person on your journey. During the spring and fall, you can get away with 3 liters per person, but do you really want to be stuck high on a ridgeline, far from the car, without enough water?

Description

First off, in order to complete the hike you must first place a shuttle vehicle in the Carney Springs Road Parking Area, located off Peralta Road. For those who wish to shuttle with a bicycle, know that the ride back to your car at Lost Dutchman State Park is nearly an hour and a half long, and that there is no great place to lock up your bike at the Carney Springs Road Parking Area.

After dropping your shuttle vehicle at the Carney Springs Road Parking Area and making your way to the Siphon Draw Trail #53 Parking Area, begin the trek up the Discovery Interpretive Trail to the Siphon Draw Connector and the Siphon Draw Trail #53. At the beginning, expect to travel through somewhat uninteresting desert terrain before reaching a canyon, where the real fun begins. Now's a good time to triple-check that you have your Ten Essentials, your boots are tight, and that your spirits are good, as this hill will test all of those things.

Beginning up the canyon, follow the trail as it climbs hellaciously, quickly turning into a hands-and-feet scramble for about a half mile. Don't feel pressured to do this section at any record pace, as there is plenty of hike to go, and if you get to the top but no longer wish to continue, the only way to your car is back down the way you came. Blind foot placements make it certainly harder to do coming down than going up.

After slogging your way up the rocks for what seems like ages, you'll reach a saddle and a fork in the unimproved trail. From here, Flatiron Viewpoint is only a few hundred feet away and can provide beautiful views of the Phoenix area for those looking to catch their breath and rehydrate. After reaching this point, congratulate yourself knowing that the hardest leg of the trek is over!

When you are ready to continue, follow a worn path southeast from the top of the steep section through a set of two saddles, contouring the hillside as the primitive trail turns north along the hillside for a short while before turning southeast again to follow the ridgetop. Continue on the ridgetop, enjoying fantastic views of the Superstitions to your left and the hustle and bustle of the Phoenix metro to your right. Revel in the fact that there is relatively little elevation gain throughout this section of the hike as you swoop through dips and rises in the spiny ridge before you. After about 4.5 miles on the ridgetop, you'll reach the crowning achievement of the hike: Superstition Peak.

Scraping the atmosphere at over 5,000 ft, the "church" of Superstition Peak offers its masochistic, sufferfest-enduring parishioners what many have deemed the best view in all of Phoenix. For those who wish to enjoy the peak in its full glory from the summit, simply hike off the worn trail to the summit to your right, being sure to keep the boot-worn path below in your sight. From the top, panoramic views offer glimpses into the desolate, craggy, yet stunning peaks of the Superstition Wilderness to the east and the bustling Phoenix metro and Sierra Estrella to the west. To state it again in emphasis, nowhere else in Phoenix can you glean a better panoramic view.

Once you're ready, head back down to the worn path and continue on, following the smooth, dirt tread as it leads you on a generally downhill course across the eastern aspects of many small peaks to a small plateau. On the plateau, navigate your way through intermittent craggy, boulder-strewn sections before following the trail down a steep ravine to the valley below. Upon reaching what looks like a circular dirt parking lot at the end of the singletrack path, continue south down the dirt road for 0.6 miles to reach the Carney Springs Road Parking Area and the end of your journey.

Contacts

Shared By:

Hunter R

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 26 votes

#230

Overall
  4.8 from 26 votes
5 Star
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4 Star
19%
3 Star
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1 Star
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Recommended Route Rankings

#13

in Arizona

#230

Overall
46 Views Last Month
14,635 Since Oct 7, 2016
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81%
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Photos

The saddle above Flatiron Trail, lit by the city, about 2:30AM. For me, the moment the camera earned its pack weight.
Jan 25, 2020 near Apache…, AZ
Moonbow on way up Carney slope.
Jan 25, 2020 near Apache…, AZ
Moonbow halfway up the initial Carney Spring climb.
Jan 25, 2020 near Apache…, AZ
Dawn from the top of Flatiron Trail
Jan 25, 2020 near Apache…, AZ
If you think you're done going up, lower your expectation.
May 13, 2019 near Apache…, AZ
Looking up at Flatiron
May 13, 2019 near Apache…, AZ

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Check-Ins

May 15, 2020
Lucas Loury
13.8mi — 10h 10m
Feb 23, 2020
Cole Smith
If planning on camping out on top of the mountain make sure to bring adequate sleeping bag as it gets around 20 degrees F up there. Beautiful Hike! 11.2mi
Jan 4, 2020
Andy Ambrosia
Pretty tough. Harder than we thought, but worth it! — 10h 15m
Oct 19, 2019
Michael Page
May 2, 2019
Eric Merritt
I started on the Carney Springs side at 8:50am. I got to Superstition Peak at 1:30. The Ridgeline took me 4:40 to get to the FlatIron Ridge at 7:10 pm — 14h 30m
Feb 16, 2019
David McCasland
At just a couple of months from reaching 60 I have wanted to complete this hike. Started at Lost Dutchman State Park and finished at Carney Spring lot 13.3mi — 13h 30m
Dec 26, 2018
Shelly Dowling
Apr 15, 2018
Adrian Quintero
11.4mi