The Phoenix metro area has many excellent hiking trails, but the king of them all is Siphon Draw in Lost Dutchman State Park. Go outside and look east —see the sheer-cut mass of rock jutting from the earth like the desert version of the Wall in Game of Thrones? That's your destination. The hike will be slightly more than four miles round trip, but it's so steep it'll feel like twice that. Take water and some snacks for refueling on the way — yes, it's that strenuous. You think Camelback Mountain is tough? Siphon Draw has nearly twice the elevation gain. And the trail's not just steep and rugged like Camelback — it's very steep and very rugged, slippery with gravel in places. At least one section will require one or both hands to surmount. Even the flatter parts of the trail are rocky and will give your ankles a workout.
What do you get for all of this pain and suffering? Only the chance to stroll next to the largest cliffs in the Phoenix area. The huge spires and walls of the west flanks of the Superstition Mountains make a dramatic backdrop for half the hike. In the high, sloping boulder fields just north, you might catch sight of a javelina — or a herd of them. Towering in the distance is the Flatiron, a monumental formation that dominates the upper landscape. That's where Siphon Draw goes. The trail takes a turn for the vertical, when you can find the trail. Keep a lookout for the white paint splotches that take you up the most efficient way. The top of Flatiron is flat and a great place for a picnic, and the magnificent view of Phoenix is the other main reason you came. Hikers with energy left can jog upward and eastward for another 20 minutes to a higher perch. But save some juice for the slog down.