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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
- 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
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.
Location: 33.3971710205078, -111.423881530762
Location: 33.3985481262207, -111.42366027832
Location: 33.3993988037109, -111.422973632812
Valley in distance
Location: 33.4004707336426, -111.422485351562
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