This is a level “difficult” clamber. Some vital statistics: Bottom to top, 3 miles, 3000 feet altitude gain, so 6 mile round trip. If you’re in excellent shape allow 4-6 hours and prepare to be sore. I’m in fair shape for an old guy pushing 70, and it took me 8 hours.
If it were not for my oldest daughter, Channa, accompanying me, I probably would have made some trail turn errors coming down due to darkness and my fatigue and ended up sleeping out there. 30 to 60 rescues need to be mounted each year in this area, and the day we hiked a helicopter with blazing search lights was up there looking for hikers and dropping off rescuers to assist several folks, who simply couldn’t do the return hike, including a 75 year old diabetic. My goal is to not be in that guy’s situation! The last time I did this hike was 3 years ago and on the ascent I took a wrong turn and was questioning my choice of trails when I saw another hiker 80-90 yards away and yelled to ask if I was on the right trail. He yelled back that I was not, so due to a simple stroke of luck I avoided getting lost.
One of the major milestones along the trail, is known a the “Basin” and is 2 miles and 1000 feet up from the start.
Channa got this picture of me starting up the Basin-only 1 mile and 2000 feet to go to the top! The summit is visible in the upper center of the picture and sunlit in the picture below, also taken by Channa.
This photo, taken facing back down, gives an idea of the terrain. When we were about 45 minutes to an hour from the Flatiron itself, we were passed by another hiker who pointed out a worn, barely visible paint spot on a rock that he told us was a mark to help us stay on what was often an invisible trail. We started watching for them, and sure enough, they were there, every once in a while. A whole lot of the hike after the Basin looked like the picture below.
During our ascent, after a couple of hours of pretty steep climbing we started to ask the occasional decending hiker how much time we had to go to reach the summit – the standard answer (4 or 5 times!) became “oh, about a half hour”. If you don’t regularly do this kind of hiking it’s hard to describe how your legs begin to feel after 3 or 4 hours. Mine began to feel shaky and I actually took 3 tumbles on the way down due to it. Nothing serious, just bruises and one encounter with a cactus that drew a little blood.
The last quarter mile or so is this easy trail up to the Flatiron itself.
Channa took this “selfie” of us at the top.
There is an ancient natve legend about a serious flood taking place in the Superstition Mountains thousands of years ago in which a whole tribe of people that lived on the mountain perished and came back as rock formations, known as Hoodoos-we had lunch with them and took their picture.
The views, as you can see, were tremendous. The feeling of accomplishment will last the rest of my life.
That was not without a price! A week of painful squatting to get into low cupboards and today, noticing toenails starting to seperate.
Just know that if you chose this hike there may be consequences and be sure you’re prepared.
LONG DAY-HIKE CHECKLIST
– If you take meds, bring some extra. – Abundant food and water. -Hiking sticks and headlamp. -Outer layer clothing appropriate to weather-visored hat, jacket, knit hat emergency blanket. -Toilet kit (digger, paper, & lighter) -Small First Aid kit -compass -Swiss Army Knife & other items particular to you. In general, you should be prepared to spend the night on any long day hike, just in case!