Phoenix, AZ: Hieroglyphic Canyon

This 3-mile out-and-back in the Superstition Mountains climbs gently through ocotillo and saguaro cacti to Hieroglyphic Canyon's mysterious petroglyphs.

The Hieroglyphic Canyon Trail makes a great family day hike. The climb is easy and steady, and the trail is rocky but not too tough. Hit the right weather window, and you can cool off in seasonal slickrock pools near the hike's turnaround point. Just be careful around the cacti and watch out for rattlesnakes.
The trail climbs through Sonoran Desert cacti and far-reaching views of the Superstition Mountains before entering the narrowing canyon. After a short scramble, look sharp: petroglyphs are carved into the rocks above the spring. Archaeologists aren’t sure who left the petroglyphs in Hieroglyphic Canyon, but most think they were drawn between 700 and 1100 A.D., during the Hohokam habitation.
Mapped by Steffan Fay

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 2.4



Location: 33.389820098877, -111.424644470215

Start from the new parking lot at Goldmine Trailhead and follow easy switchbacks up to the trail. Path leads across low ridge on the east side of shallow Hieroglyphic Canyon.


Location: 33.3901405334473, -111.423301696777

Turn left onto Lost Goldmine Trail, which travels north to Hieroglyphic Canyon.


Location: 33.3933906555176, -111.424201965332

Wilderness boundary gate; Hieroglyphic Canyon Trail (#101) starts here.


Location: 33.4065895080566, -111.419799804688

Trail steepens and canyon begins to tighten. Continue north.


Location: 33.4074096679688, -111.419799804688

Grinding holes: Archaeologists think these were used by the Hohokam people to grind grain.


Location: 33.4083404541016, -111.419700622559

The route ends with an easy scramble over a short slickrock section. Petroglyphs dominate a small wall on the western side of the watercourse. Shallow (but seasonal) water pools provide interest and relief for kids and dogs respectively.

Ocotillo and saguaro

Location: 33.3916702270508, -111.423309326172


Location: 33.3941993713379, -111.424446105957

Family hike

Location: 33.3951263427734, -111.424201965332

Hieroglyphic Canyon is a great desert dayhike for families -- and their dogs.

Wide desert views

Location: 33.3962669372559, -111.424018859863

Before you reach the steeper canyon walls, this hike offers far-reaching Sonoran Desert vistas.

Mountain views

Location: 33.3971710205078, -111.423881530762

Sonoran vistas

Location: 33.3985481262207, -111.42366027832

More ocotillo

Location: 33.3993988037109, -111.422973632812

Valley in distance

Location: 33.4004707336426, -111.422485351562

Superstition Mountains

Location: 33.4013977050781, -111.422164916992

Superstitions from trail

Location: 33.4029998779297, -111.421279907227

Heading into Hieroglyphic Canyon

Location: 33.4037132263184, -111.420989990234


Location: 33.4083824157715, -111.419319152832

Shallow (but seasonal) water pools provide relief at the top of the hike. Petroglyphs dominate a small wall on the western side of the water.

Petroglyphs -- animals

Location: 33.4087028503418, -111.41934967041

Petroglyphs -- people

Location: 33.4081344604492, -111.419456481934

Hieroglyphic Canyon's petroglphys are a bit of a mystery, but most researchers think they were drawn between 700 and 1100 A.D.

Petroglyphs -- ancient and modern

Location: 33.4085235595703, -111.419815063477