Hieroglyphic Canyon

Apache Junction, Arizona

3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars
2 Reviews
3 out of 5
One look at Hieroglyphic Canyon and you can tell the place was once prime mountain sheep habitat. The cliffs surrounding this rugged gorge in the Superstition Mountains look tailor-made for surefooted desert bighorns, and the lush vegetation at the bottom of the canyon would have provided plenty of food. There is even a bubbling spring in the lower part of the canyon that produces more water than an entire herd could drink. The only question is What happened to all the sheep? The answer is that the local sheep population was wiped out in the early 1900s by overhunting, habitat encroachment by miners, stress from recreationists, and other factors associated with settling the area. It is sad that the animals no longer inhabit the canyon, but their story makes for some thought-provoking petroglyphs. If you hike to the spring, you’ll find large stone panels covered with pictures of sheep that now serve as prehistoric fossils of the locally extinct species. One scene shows eight sheep walking in a line, and another appears to depict a ewe giving birth. Most of the sheep, however, look like they’re simply hanging out on the rocks, as bighorns often do.

Hieroglyphic Canyon Professional Review and Guide

"One look at Hieroglyphic Canyon and you can tell the place was once prime mountain sheep habitat. The cliffs surrounding this rugged gorge in the Superstition Mountains look tailor-made for surefooted desert bighorns, and the lush vegetation at the bottom of the canyon would have provided plenty of food. There is even a bubbling spring in the lower part of the canyon that produces more water than an entire herd could drink. The only question is What happened to all the sheep? The answer is that the local sheep population was wiped out in the early 1900s by overhunting, habitat encroachment by miners, stress from recreationists, and other factors associated with settling the area.

It is sad that the animals no longer inhabit the canyon, but their story makes for some thought-provoking petroglyphs. If you hike to the spring, you’ll find large stone panels covered with pictures of sheep that now serve as prehistoric fossils of the locally extinct species. One scene shows eight sheep walking in a line, and another appears to depict a ewe giving birth. Most of the sheep, however, look like they’re simply hanging out on the rocks, as bighorns often do."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Apache Junction
Distance: 3.5
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Easy
Duration: Day Hike
Local Contacts: Tonto National Forest
Local Maps: USGS Goldfield
Driving Directions: Directions to Hieroglyphic Canyon

Recent Trail Reviews

3/13/2011
0

fairly easy trail like the guides say, but very very rocky; lots of cactus & critters on the trail; the petroglyphs are easily accessible, but don't get fooled by all the "modern" ones that people have tried to put up as the old ones are much more subtle; saw several people along the way, but overall a very nice hike for a couple hours


11/25/2006
0

Nice hike to the hieroglyphics. However, much of the hiking that approaches the Superstition Mountains hikes out of sub-developments, which you can clearly see for the entire hike. Definately worth doing.



Nearby Trails

Activity Feed

May 2018