Superstition Ridgeline Trail.

Superstition Ridgeline Trail: Best Hike In Superstition Mountains

The Superstition Mountains are full of jaw dropping views but no trail provides an all around bang-for-your-buck experience, including those craggy peak views, quite like the Superstition Ridgeline Trail.

This strenuous trail leads hikers on a thrilling route atop the main ridgeline of the Superstition Mountains. Along the way you can expect class 4 scrambles, cliffside exposure, and extremely steep sections.

The Superstition Ridgeline Trail is one of the most difficult hikes in Phoenix and only belongs on your bucket-list if you’re an experienced hiker. If so, it is the perfect challenge to knock out when searching for your next difficult hike.

In this post I’ll guide you through the one-way logistics of hiking the Superstition Ridgeline Trail, provide tips, and let you know all of what you can expect. Let’s go!

Hey! Just so you know the below links contain affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through my links (at no extra cost to you). You can visit my disclosure for more info.

Superstition Ridgeline Trail Stats

  • Hiking Distance | 10.6 miles one way
  • Difficultly | Difficult & strenuous
  • Elevation Gain | 3,400 feet
  • Total Time | 6-10 hours, depending on abilities.
  • Permits/Fees | $10 entry fee at Lost Dutchman State Park & $15 per person AZ State Trust Land Fee for Carney Springs.
  • Trailheads | Siphon Draw Trailhead & Carney Springs Trailhead
  • Dog Friendly | No, please leave them at home.

Below is a map of the route along Superstition Ridgeline Trail.

Superstition Ridgeline Trail Map.

To say you’ve accomplished the full Superstition Ridgeline Trail requires hiking from point to point, one way. You’ll either begin or end at Siphon Draw Trailhead and Carney Springs Trailhead.

I’ve seen the stats for this hike vary greatly and I believe that is because it depends on which direction people are hiking! It also depends if they veer off on any social trails (it adds to the miles), and if hikers opt to summit any of the 3 stunning peaks along the way.

My stats were gathered by using the Gaia App, I stayed on trail, and didn’t track any of the stats up to the various peaks. So I truly feel like these are correct!

I do highly suggest having this map downloaded so you can stay on trail during your hike! One way to do this is with a GPS system or app like Gaia GPS.

You can download my Superstition Ridgeline hike and gain access to my library of all tracked hikes. Once downloaded, you can load it into your trusty device for ease of mind!

What Is The Best Way To Hike Superstition Ridgeline Trail?

So, where should you start, and where should you finish? The best way to hike Superstition Ridgeline Trail depends on many personal preferences, but I will say most hikers opt to hike up Carney Springs and down Flatiron to Siphon Draw Trailhead.

This is mainly due to two factors: first, Flatiron is an infamous hike that requires a lot of scrambling, and starting with this may quickly tire your legs out for the remainder of the hike. Secondly, it is easier to ascend Carney Springs than descend due to the narrow, steep, and slippery trail conditions.

I had opted to hike up Carney Springs then down Flatiron and felt like this direction was best. So, this trail guide follows this route!

Another note:

Most people have cell service at Siphon Draw Trailhead, whereas you won’t have service at Carney Springs Trailhead. Ending at Siphon Draw / down Flatiron makes it a bit easier to contact your ride.

You’ll Need A Shuttle!

Logistically speaking, hiking Superstition Ridgeline Trail kind of sucks since you’ll need to find a way to get from trailhead to trailhead. You’ll likely begin up Carney Springs and end at Flatiron, but how will you get back to your car parked at Carney Springs?

The drive between trailheads is around 35 minutes and currently there are no private or commercial shuttle services. You’ll need to have a loved one or friend pick you up shuttle you back to your car. Or, if you are in a group, you can drop one car off prior to your hike, pick them up, and drive to the other trailhead to begin.

I don’t believe taking an Uber or Taxi is an option due to the remote locations and conditions of the trailheads.

Trailhead Conditions

  • Siphon Draw Trailhead is located within the Lost Dutchman State Park and is easily accessible. The roads are paved and you’ll likely have cell service there. You will have to pay a $10 entrance fee for entry, even if just for a ride pick up.
  • Carney Springs Trailhead is located several miles down a well graded dirt road. It can get bumpy at times and become washed out. 2WD is okay, but if it is flooded out or muddy after a heavy rainstorm, it will likely be impassible. Technically a $15 AZ State Trust Land permit is required for all activities here, but many don’t pay that since they don’t check.

When To Hike Superstition Ridgeline Trail

Last thing I’d like to cover before we begin the hike- the best time to hike the Ridgeline Trail.

Strenuous hikes like this are safest and most comfortable during the months of November-April. The temperatures are prime hiking temps. You do not want to attempt this hike during the summer! High temperatures paired with constant sun exposure and strenuous activity equal a very dangerous outing. Please don’t underestimate the Arizona sun and how quickly it can deplete your energy.

Begin your hike early! This could be an all day hike for some. I highly suggest beginning right at sunrise to beat the heat and finish prior to sunset. Rainstorms can occur later in the day as well, and at this elevation you may even experience snowfall during the winter months!

If you’re nervous about the strenuous conditions…

Consider accomplishing the below Superstition Mountain hikes first! They cover small sections of the Ridgeline Trail and will prepare you for what the conditions are really like.

Hiking Superstition Ridgeline Trail

I hope you’re ready to be amazed, because the views along Superstition Ridgeline are insane, and it is crazy to think this hike sits within the Greater Phoenix Valley!

Beginning at Carney Springs Trailhead you’ll first hike down an unused rocky road. This is the same trail you’d hike as if you were visiting the Wave Cave, but instead of continuing on to the cave, you’ll veer off to the right to stay on Carney Springs Trail and connect to the Ridgeline.

You’ll veer off at a small intersection which can sneak up on you- pictured below.

Carney Springs Trail, Superstition Mountains.
Hiking along Carney Springs Trail.
Hiking Carney Springs Trail.
Pile of rocks marking the trail intersection.

From this point on the incline becomes steep and I wish I could tell you it gets better, but it really doesn’t! The trail becomes overgrown, rocky, and slippery for the remainder of your hike.

Climbing up Carney Springs trail is beautiful so be sure to take a pause and look behind you. Take your time, watch your footing, and stay prepared for the false summit ahead- don’t let it fool you! You still have a little ways hike beyond the false summit and it can feel deterring.

Eventually you’ll reach the Ridgeline and turn left. If it has recently rained you’ll be serenaded by a trickle of water running in the wash down below. This section will likely excite you as it provides views deeper into the Superstition Mountains.

Hiking Superstition Ridgeline Trail.

The climb continues as you follow along the Ridgeline Trail to Three Sisters Summit. Along the way you have the opportunity to see a small seasonal waterfall and a very lesser traveled section of the mountains.

While traveling through a sense of peace will likely overcome you as the remote, quiet feeling sets in.

Three Sisters Summit

Eventually the Ridgeline Trail skirts past Three Sisters Summit. This is an optional summit that you can add to your hike, but be aware it will add milage to your day.

If you decide to visit Three Sisters it will add roughly 1.1 miles to your hike. Luckily the off-trail trail is relatively flat and the views are great. But, if you’re going to add a summit to your day, I’d choose Peak 5057 out of the three options!

If you opt out of Three Sisters Summit just continue along the Ridgeline Trail to head to Peak 5057. The route between the two peaks is absolutely breathtaking and you’ll find yourself wanting to stop to take pictures. The below photo gives me Ireland vibes with all the green cliffs!

Superstition Ridgeline Trail, Superstition Mountains.
Looking back at Three Sisters Summit, the farthest point out there.
Superstition Ridgeline Trail, Superstition Mountains.
Stunning views along the Ridgeline Trail.

Superstition Peak 5057

It feels uphill the entire way to Superstition Peak 5057 so you’ll just have to focus and hammer through it. This peak is the tallest in the Superstition Mountains and has the BEST views, so keep that in mind!

Summiting this peak will only add on 0.2 miles total to your day. To me that is a no brainer, but, it is pretty steep. You’ll reach an intersection where you can decide whether you want to scramble up to 5057 or continue along the main route. If you want to reach the peak you’ll head straight, if not, veer right.

During my Superstition Ridgeline Hike I opted to visit the peak and take a break to eat some snacks. Well worth the extra effort in my book!

Superstition Peak 5057, Superstition Mountains.
The approach up to Peak 5057.
Peak 5057- Superstition Ridgeline Trail.
Views from top of Peak 5057.

As the Superstition Ridgeline Trail continues beyond 5057 things grow even more interesting and requires some light scrambling. The wonderful views, though, don’t go anywhere.

This section of the trail poses what I believe to be one of the largest obstacles you’ll face. There is a tall crevice you’ll need to traverse and it looks scarier than it really is. I conquered going up and down while it was wet with snow, pictured below. Totally do-able for humans but not so much for dogs.

Superstition Ridgeline Trail, Superstition Mountains.
The steepest climb along Superstition Ridgeline Trail. Photo from my hike in February 2024 during snow.

Beyond this section the trail continues to descend as you pass by Hieroglyphic Springs Canyon. There is a nice section of the trail that feels very level and you can increase your pace a bit.

Eventually the trail switches back to the steep inclines! A lot of the Ridgeline Trail is up, down, up, and back down.

Superstition Ridgeline Trail- Superstition Mountains.
Looking back where we came from. You can see Peak 5057 in the distance.
Superstition Ridgeline Trail- Superstition Mountains.
Looking ahead at the next incline!
Superstition Ridgeline Trail in the Superstition Mountains.
Looking down at the craggy rocks. It looks worse than it is! The trail actually traverses along the side of the rocks and isn’t sketchy at all.

Peak 5024

As you near the Flatiron scramble to head down the mountain you will pass by Peak 2024, another summit option to add in, off to the right of the trail.

This would add roughly 0.2 miles round trip to your overall milage for the day. I haven’t been up to this peak yet myself so I can’t tell you if it is worth it or not! By the time I reached the base of 5024 I just wanted to get the Flatiron scramble over with and devour a meal.

Another option for some incredible valley views is to hike all the way out to the actual Flatiron area prior to scrambling down. The views here are wonderful, but you’ll have to hike a short ways out and then backtrack to the saddle to get down the mountain.

Flatiron Scramble

Scrambling down Flatiron was easier than scrambling up it of course, but after a long day the descent can take its toll on your knees, ankles, and everywhere else really.

With careful footing and hand placement you’ll scramble down until you reach the Siphon Draw. This area is very unique and sometimes gas water flowing down it, which makes it slippery. Pictured below!

Siphon Draw, Superstition Mountains.
Looking down the Siphon Draw.

Once down the Siphon Draw the trail slowly begins to level out and becomes very rocky. If I’m being honest this section really sucks because it feels never ending and is rough on the tired legs! You can see the end of the hike, but it is still a very long and straight distance to travel.

As you near Lost Dutchman State Park the signs will begin popping up. Follow the signs to Siphon Draw Trailhead as you hike along the dirt paths, past the campground, and along some roads. Your hike will end at a paved parking lot!

Tips For Your Hike:

  • Bring plenty of water since water sources are very seasonal in these mountains. Pack 3L minimum and even more if you tend to go through a lot of water. If it is going to be around 75 degrees bring more than you think you’ll need!
  • The trail is overgrown in many areas- wear long and durable pants if you don’t want your legs to get scratched up.
  • Utilize the Gaia GPS app on your phone and download the route by subscribing to this website and visiting the Resources Page!
  • Carry a small communication device like the Garmin InReach Mini 2 so you can provide progress check-ins to your ride.

What To Pack:

  • Durable hiking shoes with great grip. I love my Salomon Speedcross hiking shoes but if you need that extra ankle support the Salomon X Ultra 3 MID GTX boot is very comfortable.
  • Wool socks to prevent blisters and keep your feet dry.
  • Fitted hiking backpack like the Osprey Tempest 30L if you’re a heavy packer, or the Osprey Skimmer 28L.
  • Water reservoir to save room and stay hydrated while on the go.
  • Electrolyte drink mix like LMNT which have zero sugar.
  • Lightweight blender bottle to mix your electrolytes and carry extra water. Super important incase your hydropack ever fails!
  • A hiker medical kit for those just in-case instances.
  • Hiking poles if you typically use them to relieve the stress on your knees and joints.
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect you from the sun.
  • Plenty of salty snacks full of carbohydrates!

You may also like:

Final Thoughts On Superstition Ridgeline Trail

All-in-all I was expecting the Superstition Ridgeline Trail to be a lot more difficult than it felt. It may be because I had just hiked Hermit Trail in the Grand Canyon and that hike had prepared me, but overall this Superstition Mountain hike felt amazing and didn’t drain me.

Don’t get me wrong- I was tired when all was said and done. Especially after scrambling down Flatiron and having to hike on the rocky section at the very end. But overall I’d say it was thrilling and I’ll likely do it again soon!

Next time I’d like to challenge myself and ascend up Flatiron first and hike down Carney Springs. Stay tuned!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.