Piestewa Peak, Phoenix Mountain Preserve
A great introduction to hiking the Arizona desert mountains.

This is a very popular trail in the heart of the Valley of the Sun.  In fact, it's the single most popular hiking trail in the Phoenix metro area.  The mountain used to be called Squaw Peak, but was renamed in honor of Lori Piestewa, the first woman killed in the Iraq war and the first Native American woman to die in combat while serving with the U.S. military.

 

There has been a lot of erosion on the first part of the trail, so the city has turned it into almost a kind of sidewalk, with rocks set into concrete.

Watch out for the people who run up and down the mountain for exercise.

There used to be quite a bit of mercury mining going on in the area.  The mountain pass on the north side of the peak, where the 51 freeway passes through, is called "Dreamy Draw" because of this.  From what I understand, the mercury used to seep into the miners' bodies, affect their brains, and cause them to act "dreamy".

There are miles of trails throughout the Phoenix Mountain Preserve that are great for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, etc.  Motorized vehicles are not allowed.  In the next picture, you can see some of these trails, on the east side of Piestewa Peak.

From here, Camelback Mountain looks more like a pyramid than a camel:

The hike:

Length: 1.15 miles one way, 2.3 miles round trip

Time: It took my friends and me about 40 minutes of actual hiking (not including stops) to get to the summit, at an average speed of 1.7 mph.

Elevation gain: 1,184'

 

Getting there:

From the 51 freeway (Piestewa Parkway) in Phoenix, take the Glendale Avenue/Lincoln Drive exit.  Go east on Lincoln Avenue.  At the second traffic light, turn left on Squaw Peak Park Drive.  The road will pass through a residential area, and then will go into the park.  The trailhead will be on the left side of the road and is well-marked.  There are restrooms and a water fountain at the base, as well as shaded picnic tables.

For more pictures of this hike, click here

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