Siphon Draw Trail in Phoenix

Hiking is not about the destination; it's about the journey.

Early on, I learned that if I kept thinking about the end-point of a hike (the part where I reach the top of a mountain and get to take a long lunch break enjoying the gorgeous views and eating that tempting sandwich in my backpack), I wouldn't fully appreciate what was around me. I would miss out on the scent of the forest, the sounds of wildlife and the understated beauty of the nature around me. 

And therefore, I quickly came to the conclusion that while it's important to hike towards a destination, it's also perfectly okay to not ever reach it. This is important because I now have the license to abandon hikes and turn around when it's more difficult to go on, or when I simply don't feel like it.

That's what happened on the Siphon Draw Trail, an extremely challenging hiking trail starting from Lost Dutchman State Park and continuing onto the Superstition Wilderness area.

The trail started off pretty easy, but it got steep very quickly. There was a good amount of scrambling over rocks, and the trail was not well-maintained above a certain point (rocks along the trail supposedly had these blue or white paint dots on them, but it was almost impossible to spot these faded markings) And because it had rained the previous day, it was a little slippery, too. Plus, the day I went, it so happened that 25mph winds were blowing. I probably went up 80% of the way before I decided to give up. (A good lesson to keep in mind that if hiking up is tough, going down is going to be a lot tougher!) They don't call this the most challenging hike in the Valley (i.e. greater Phoenix area) for nothing. 

On the plus side, this trail did not have any lack of views. The rocky landscape, studded with Saguaro cacti and other desert shrubs, took my breath away. Thanks to the previous day's rain, I also saw a waterfall spill over the cliffs and an extremely fast flowing stream carving through the rocks – making for an extremely special hiking experience in the usually parched desert.

I would recommend this trail in a heartbeat. Just don't get too upset if you can't go all the way to the top!

Roundtrip distance: 5.5-6 miles (according to the guy at the park office), but you don't have to go all the way to the top.
Special caution: Wear hiking boots, and not running shoes. You're going to want some traction on this steep hike.
 

Trail starts off pretty gentle, but your ultimate destination is up those enormous rocky outcrops.

Trail starts off pretty gentle, but your ultimate destination is up those enormous rocky outcrops.

Saguaro cacti – the sentinels of the desert

Saguaro cacti – the sentinels of the desert

This reminded me of Jurassic Park. In fact, dinosaurs once roamed Arizona and much of what is now the United States.

This reminded me of Jurassic Park. In fact, dinosaurs once roamed Arizona and much of what is now the United States.

A waterfall in the desert

A waterfall in the desert