ElevationAscent: 3,431' 1,046 m
Descent: -3,286' -1,001 m
High: 4,813' 1,467 m
Low: 2,075' 632 m
GradeAvg Grade: 11% (6°)
Max Grade: 88% (42°)
Popular runs nearby
Second Water/Black Mesa/Dutchman Loop
9.3 mi 14.9 km • Loop • 994 ft Ascent 302.89 m Ascent
Usery Mountain Regional Park Medium Loop
6.3 mi 10.1 km • Loop • 283 ft Ascent 86.3 m Ascent
Hieroglyphic Trail #101
3.0 mi 4.8 km • Out and Back • 571 ft Ascent 174.16 m Ascent
Usery Park Large Loop - South Side
7.6 mi 12.2 km • Loop • 243 ft Ascent 74.17 m Ascent
Maricopa Trail: Usery Mountain Visitor's Center to Bulldog
13.1 mi 21.1 km • Out and Back • 1,079 ft Ascent 328.87 m Ascent
Weavers Needle Loop
12.7 mi 20.4 km • Loop • 2,643 ft Ascent 805.52 m Ascent
“A right of passage for many hardcore runners in the Valley of the Sun.”— Hunter R
Suffering and glory aside, there is a reason that people attempt this grueling trek: While the route may be punishing, it rewards runners 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 run you'll surely never forget.
Need to Know
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 runner. If you must run 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?
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 run 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 run 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 run: 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 run 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.
Land Manager: USFS - Tonto National Forest Office