Location: Gold Canyon, Arizona
Difficulty Rating: Easy / Moderate
Route Type: Out & Back
Length: 2.9 miles round trip
Trailhead Elevation: 2,085 ft.
Elevation Gain: 561 ft.
Park Fee: No fee
Trailhead Amenities: parking, restrooms (portable), trail map and information
Directions: From Phoenix take US 60 east all the way to Gold Canyon. Turn left on S Kings Ranch Road, follow S Kings Ranch Road north, turn right on E Baseline Avenue, turn left on S Mohican Road, turn left on E Valley View Drive, follow it north onto S White Tail, turn right on E Cloudview Avenue and follow it east all the way to the end where you’ll find the trailhead parking lot.
Hieroglyphic Trail is a 2.9-mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Gold Canyon, Arizona that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
It will take a total of about 2 hours for the entire hike.
This hike begins at a popular trailhead which is equipped with restroom facilities. Parking fills up quickly!
Note: do not park on the side of the road – you will get towed. Instead be sure to park in the parking lot area.
The trail is well marked from the trailhead and is easy to follow. Desert cacti and palo verde dominate the landscape. Heavy concentrations of Saguaros pack the area.
A single path climbs the gently sloping hillside on the north side of the parking lot, up to a junction in front of a big cluster of teddy bear cholla, where the Lost Goldmine Trail forks eastwards and the Hieroglyphic Trail heads north. This route soon passes a gate and a fence marking the edge of the Superstition Wilderness, then for the next half mile or so follows an inclined ridgetop, before dropping down into a shallow wash at the mouth of Hieroglyphic Canyon, as the surroundings become more rocky, with loose stones underfoot. The trail ends beneath a small cliff overlooking smooth volcanic rocks around the streambed, which holds residual pools well into summer, though these become murky and filled with green algae if not refreshed by new rainfall. Much steeper slopes above are dotted with many barrel cacti and a few saguaro. The petroglyphs are found mostly on the far side of the streamway, carved into the smooth, dark grey/brown surface of the enclosing rocks. They are all somewhat faded after being exposed to centuries of harsh desert weather but still quite impressive. The canyon gains height more sharply upstream, beyond the end of the official path, and becomes rather overgrown though the drainage can be followed if desired, all the way to the Superstition Mountain ridgeline at about 4,600 feet.
If you’re ready for a next adventure and want to plan it right, check out some of these hiking guides – Arizona has so many awesome destinations to explore!