Forty-five minutes east of downtown Phoenix and five miles north of Apache Junction on State Route 88, is the Lost Dutchman State Park. Named after a legendary gold mine this scenic park with a variety of hiking trails is located at the base of the Superstition Mountains.
The incredibly scenic location of the Lost Dutchman State Park in the Sonoran desert guarantees visitors close-up views of giant saguaro cactus, the ominous-sounding “jumping cholla” cactus, and palo verde trees, as well as wildlife including hawks, hummingbirds, tarantulas, and a multitude of lizards.
The park is close enough to the Phoenix Metropolitan area to provide a peaceful refuge from the bustle of the city 365 days a year. Although the summer temperatures can (and occasionally do) reach 120 degrees, the winter daytime temperatures are usually 60–70 degrees.
The park includes a campground, visitor center with maps and wildlife exhibits, picnic areas, group use areas, and hiking trails. The trails all begin in the park and wind through Tonto National Forestland. Remember, in the desert, forest does not necessarily mean trees and shade.
The National Forest borders the park on the east and covers all the land up to, and into the Superstition Mountains. The park elevation is approximately 2,000 feet at its base. You can climb as little as 50 feet or as much as 2800 feet, of course depending on your skill level and endurance. Here are the four main trails.
Treasure Loop Trail
Trailhead: Cholla Day Use Area
Distance: 2.4 miles
Description: Most of the trail is hard packed dirt and rock, but you will have to pick your way through a few spots where there is loose rock and gravel. Keep in mind that most of the climb occurs in the second half of either side of the loop; the first half is mostly a gentle climb. Beginning hikers can manage this trail even if the climb requires a few rest stops at wisely placed benches. Elevation change: 480 feet.
Siphon Draw Trail
Trailhead: The east end of the camping area
Distance: 1.6 miles to the Basin and 2.5 miles if you climb to the Flatiron
Difficulty: Moderate to the Basin; Difficult to the Flatiron
Description: The trail is steep and filled with loose rocks. The climb to the Basin could be managed by beginners, but take care to wear very rugged hiking shoes or boots. The trail is well marked to the Draw, but only experienced hikers should attempt the Flatiron because the trail is not well marked and maintained. Plan at least 4 – 6 hours to complete the Flatiron hike. Elevation change: 2400 feet.
Trailhead: N/A Trail is a branch off the Treasure Loop and the Siphon Draw trails.
Distance: 0.7 mile
Description: The trail connects the south side of Treasure Loop and Siphon Draw trails. At one end of the trail is the peak of the Treasure Loop Trail and the other end is near the beginning of Siphon Draw trail. It generally follows the rise and fall of the foothills. Because it does connect with the peak of the Loop trail, there is an elevation gain of about 400 feet, but the trail rises more gradually so this trail can be managed by beginning hikers. Most of the trail is dirt packed, but there are occasional patches of loose rocks. Elevation change: nominal.
Trailhead: N/A The trail connects the Siphon Draw trail with both sides of the Treasure Loop Trail. Distance: .85 mile
Description: The trail joins Prospector’s View and Siphon Draw on the south and crosses both sides of the Treasure Loop. The trail covers mostly level ground, occasionally winding through washes and stands of saguaro cactus. North of the Treasure Loop, it continues to First Water Road, about one mile to the north. This trail is a very pleasant walk along the base of the foothills and could easily be managed by a beginner. Most of the trail is hard packed dirt so walking shoes are adequate. Elevation change: nominal.
Camping is available. There are 35 sites available (no hookups). Water, restrooms, hot showers and a dump station are available. There is no restriction on the size of recreational vehicles and tent campers are also welcome. The site cost is $10 per night with a maximum two-week stay. Reservations are not accepted.
Directions: From highway 60, take the Idaho Road exit and go north to US 88. Go seven miles to the park.