Phoenix Hiking: The Hand, Superstition Mountains, AZ


Posted on: August 12, 2018

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Hiking in the Superstition Mountains: The Hand

Looking North East from near The Hand in the Superstition Mountains in Lost Dutchman's State ParkThe Hand is one of my least favorite climbing routes. That is a story for another day, but let’s just say it isn’t a fun route in the wind. Although it isn’t my favorite climbing route, it is a great hiking route within Lost Dutchman State Park. It is a simple 3 mile in and out route that takes you along a beautiful section of the northwestern part of the Superstition Mountains. In the spring you’ll see hundreds of wildflowers. In the fall watch for the setting sun to illuminate the saguaro cactus.

Lost Dutchman's State Park

The Hand (sometimes called The Praying Hand) is located in the Lost Dutchman’s State Park, which is located off of Highway 88 in the northeast part of the Phoenix Valley. Upon arriving at the Lost Dutchman’s Park, head for the Cholla Day use area. The trailhead will be just to the south-east of the bathroom. You’ll be taking trail #56, which is the Treasure Loop trail. Follow the well-defined trail for about a mile. You’ll see a nice metal bench, which is perfectly placed for some beautiful pictures. Shortly after the bench, you’ll see an unmarked trail heading east. You’ll be able to see the hand in the distance. It is pretty obvious since you can see the trail leading off towards the hands. There is another trail leading to the hand from the Treasure Trail Loop that splits off just prior to the bench at the top of the trail. Sorry, it is kind of hard to describe, but just remember that both trails to the hand are within throwing distance of the two benches. I take the lower trail if I’m coming from Cholla Trailhead and then do the upper trail on my way back so I can finish out the loop hike. From the turn-off, it took us about 20 minutes to reach the base of the hand. The Treasure Trail section is an easy hike, the side trail that leads to the Hand is a bit steeper and more difficult to navigate. I’ve never taken the trail past the hand, but understand that it eventually circles around and hits the Peralta and Weaver’s Needle trail. If anyone has done this route and can confirm this for me I’d love details. We had my seven-month-old baby with us and it was already four in the afternoon, so we had to turn back. The return hike took us less than 30 minutes and is very easy to navigate. The Hand - Superstition Mountains in Lost Dutchman State ParkIf you have a free couple of hours I highly recommend hiking to The Hand. It is a great route in the Superstition Mountain for beginning hikers, kids and established hikers looking to get some mileage. Editors note:  Since writing this post, I've now hiked an extra 2-3 miles past The Hand.  It is a beautiful hike and if you have time I recommend going a bit further on the trail.  This last time, we took 6 kids ages 1 1/2 (I carried my daughter) to 14.  They all did great and were hiking ahead of us adults the entire time. I should note, that all of these kids hike frequently and are used to desert hiking.

Driving Directions to The Hand:

Take US 60 east to Highway 88 (Idaho road). Head north about 8 miles to the Lost Dutchman’s State Park. If you are familiar with Canyon Lake you will pass the Lost Dutchman’s State Park on your way. Superstition Mountain hiking in the Lost Dutchman's State Park. I love hiking the hand. It is one of my favorite moderate family friendly hikes in the Superstition Mountains. Come check out the beauty of the Lost Dutchman's State Park in Arizona.   The hike starts within the Lost Dutchman’s state park so be prepared for a $7 dollar park fee.

Hiking Difficulty:

Easy to moderate hiking with some very minor scrambling near The Hand. However, this is desert hiking so plan accordingly based on the weather. If possible I highly recommend climbing approach shoes. It took us 45-60 minutes of moderately paced hiking to reach The Hand with a short break at the bench. The hike back took less than 30 minutes. I highly recommend doing this route during the fall, winter or spring. This would not be a fun route during the summer months.

Hiking Distance:

3-4 miles of easy to moderate hiking on a well-maintained trail. Max of 1,000 feet of elevation. According to my friends Fitbit Blaze we did 80 flights of stairs so definitely a nice little workout.

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