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Hieroglyphic Trail
Superstition Mountains
January 30, 2011
by Debbie M.
A dozen Trailblazers pause for a group photo at the Hieroglyphic Trailhead.
Wendy (below) and Jenny (above) climb up
for a closer look at the pictorial etchings

We enjoyed a short break in the canyon.
The Hieroglyphic Trail in the Superstitions is an easy hike, about three miles round trip with less than 600' elevation gain. I have hiked this trail dozens of times and never tire of it. Although short, the trail is rocky and sturdy hiking boots are recommended.

It took us about 45 minutes to make the gradual climb up to the Hieroglyphic Canyon. Along the way, the trail is dotted with plenty of saguaro, cholla, ocotillo, palo verde and other desert plants. We were fortunate to have a bit of cloud cover to ensure that the day did not heat up too quickly.

As the trail ends, we scrambled over some large boulders and found a nice resting spot with magnificent views of the ancient writings. Webster’s dictionary defines hieroglyphic as “...belonging to a system of writing mainly in pictorial characters.”

Petroglyph is defined as “a carving or inscription on a rock.” This explains why there is much debate about whether the ancient etchings on the rocks seen at the end of this hike are actually hieroglyphs or petroglyphs. It depends on what you are reading.

To me, it seems they must be both. After the hike, we stopped at Olive Garden and replenished all of the calories we had just expended (and then some).

I can see the writing on the wall.
Animal Farm.
Photos courtesy of Wendy R. and Quy N.
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated February 12, 2019