What we now know as the Superstition Wilderness was once a series of volcanoes that collapsed to form calderas. The subsequent push upward from the depths of this crater-like formation, combined with other forces of nature, created a wilderness 40 minutes east Phoenix that is just loaded with miles of beautiful trail, unique geological features, and rich human history to boot. Use this list of the best hiking trails in the Superstition Mountains to plan your next journey to what locals call the “Supes.”
One of the most popular hikes in the Superstitions begins at the Peralta Trailhead and climbs roughly 1,300 feet to Fremont Saddle. The Peralta trail extends for miles beyond the saddle, where many people end their hike after getting the best views of Weaver’s Needle, to create longer loops. But the Fremont Saddle is a popular location for people of all ages to turn back. When looking for best Superstition Mountains hiking trails, Peralta trailhead is often at the top of the list due to its stunning views and accessibility to all abilities.
The Siphon Draw trail gains 2,500 feet over 3 miles before it reaches the top of Flat Iron (gulp). But wait, don’t let that stop you! Of all the Superstition Mountains hiking trails, Flat Iron can be the most demanding in the shortest distance, but also the most rewarding. Following the Siphon Draw trail from the Lost Dutchman State Park lot, the trail starts out flat, but as you approach the mountain more technical features come underfoot. The Siphon Draw itself is just about a mile in and can be extremely slick, especially during wet conditions.
The ensuing trail can trick hikers into a steep and loose scramble on the right side, so beware of this and remember to stay left and follow cairns. Just before the top you face a 12-foot vertical section, but with care and maybe a hand from a fellow hiker, you can find a safe way to the most spectacular views overlooking all of the East Valley.
Ending at the convergence of the Boulder Canyon and Dutchman Trails, the Boulder Canyon trail runs 7.8 miles south of the marina at Canyon Lake. This trail is perfect for day hikers, as some of the best views are within the first 3 miles! The Boulder Canyon trail offers views of Canyon Lake, Weaver’s Needle, and Battleship Mountain. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water for this exposed trail.
Battleship mountain may be named for its resemblance to an ocean vessel, but the climb can be described as a battle of its own. This hike is for those looking to test their comfort with heights, wayfinding skills, and sheer physical ability. With a round-trip distance just shy of 12 miles and an elevation gain of about 1,800 feet this trip requires an early start – especially in the warmer late spring and summer months. Beginning at the First Water trailhead, you will connect to the Second Water trail and then follow the Boulder Canyon Wash Southeast before splitting off to tackle the Battleship Mountain scramble. From here it is a series of cairn finding exercises to guide you to some of the most impressive 360 degree views in the Superstition Wilderness.
The Treasure Loop trail begins in the Lost Dutchman State Park area and requires an entry fee of $7 per vehicle. This 2.4 mile round-trip trail features an elevation change of 450 feet and offers some surprising views without the work to ascend the mountainside. This well traveled path is a mild hike that allows you to spend more time socializing and less time sucking wind. It’s also situated in the perfect area to add a few more miles with various trails beginning near the Lost Dutchman State Park lot.
Beginning at the Peralta Trailhead, the Bluff Springs Trail is 3.5 mile section with about 340 feet of climbing. From the popular Peralta Trailhead parking lot this trail can be completed as an out and back on it’s own, or combined with the Dutchman Trail to create the 8.5 mile Miner’s Needle loop. Completing the Bluff Springs trail as an out and back is the perfect alternative to the Peralta and Dutchman’s trails, that might see more people on a busy weekend.
This 24 mile out-and-back features a modest elevation gain of 3,500 feet and is best done as an overnight backpacking trip. In fact, many people choose this to be their first exposure to backpacking in the Superstition Mountains due to the well-marked and maintained trail. While the trail splits on the way to Reavis Falls and Frog Tanks Trail, the destination along Reavis Ranch Trail is actually an old Ranch site, once inhabited by farmer, horse packer, and miner, Elisha Reavis himself. This historic site has reminders of the old west with grave sites, native ruins, and farming equipment along the way, making the Reavis Ranch trail one of the best well-rounded hikes in the Superstitions.