Hedgpeth Hills Highpoint • Highpoint: Hedgpeth Hills
• City of Phoenix
• Maricopa County


The highpoint, from the southeast
 

A big boulder on the east slope
 

Colorful rock art
 

The flat top
 

View north of the rest of the hills
 

Montage: paint on a rock outcrop, petroglyphs on a summit rock dating from about c. 1989, More art, and view down to the freeway
 

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Date: January 15, 2018 • Elevation: 1,905 feet • Prominence: 505 feet • Distance: 1.5 miles • Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes • Gain: 585 feet • Conditions: Cool, clear with some clouds

I had the morning open so I drove toward Glendale to hike the highpoint of the Hedgpeth Hills, most of which are contained within the Thunderbird Recreation Area. I have hiked two other peaks in these hills previously, but not this one until now.

This peak lies southeast of the main hiking areas in Thunderbird Park. It lies outside the park and slightly within Phoenix city limits. The Loop-101 freeway runs immediately below the summit, east of the 51st Avenue exit. From the freeway to the top is about a half mile. It appeared to be a fast hike.

I tried some other access points, coming in from the north within the Adobe Dam Recreation Area (which adjoins the Thunderbird Recreation Area). Adobe Dam is a long rock and earth dam that acts as a barrier on those occasions the Skunk Creek swells after a thunderstorm. All I found today were "no trespassing" signs all over the place. I left and decided to come in from the south, along the freeway frontage road (old Beardsley Road).

I got onto the westbound frontage from 35th Avenue, then drove 1.5 miles west to an unmarked turn, this being the 47th Avenue alignment. There were about five cars parked here, people jogging and walking dogs. I pulled into a dirt area and parked. A nearby sign said "no littering", but nothing about trespassing. Other signs in the area said "no trespassing". Clearly, people were here trespassing with their dogs, so I figured I was okay. I think the city owns this land and would only invoke the law if they needed to run off some ne'er-do-wells.

I started hiking at 9:10 a.m., walking up the paved road to a saddle east of the peak. Then I walked onto the lava boulders, found some old paths, and got onto another elevated saddle, now about 200 feet above my car. Above me was the summit guarded by a small cliff band, and lower down, a rock outcrop which can be seen in the photos. I followed a path upslope to this outcrop, which was covered over in paint.

The slope steepened as I climbed to the base of the cliff band. I scampered up one chute that looked good, getting about 25 feet up it before coming to a ledge-overhang that stopped me. The tread was loose, so I backed down. I was making this harder then necessary.

I descended about 50 feet, then traversed south, getting back onto those nice black volcanic boulders. I was now on the southeast slope. Above me was just slope, no cliffs. Soon, I was on top. The summit is flat, so I walked around and tagged a few rocks. People have carved initials and dates into the black patina. One dated from 1989. For now, it's just graffiti. In three hundred years, whoever was up here in 1989 will be the subject of someone's archaeology doctoral thesis.

Looking around, I could see the surrounding hills and the din of the freeway below me. By now, all the other cars had left, and I wasn't that enthusiastic being the only car parked where I was, so I descended on a bee-line back to my car. This southeast slope was wonderful, and I should have taken it on the ascent. I wasted about 20 minutes with those cliffs and chutes.

I had been gone for 80 minutes. I drank some liquids and got moving. I thought about hiking one other bump in the Thunderbird Park but decided I would save it for another time. Instead, I drove directly home.

This was not a long hike and not that memorable, but it is the hill-range's highest point. I would encourage future visitors to not futz with this road. Instead, there is a small legal parking pullout on 59th Avenue, half a mile north of the freeway where 59th "ends". This is a let-in for the Coachwhip Trail. This is just a half-mile west of the peak, and one could bust upslope from here. It all looks about the same from this direction.

The area was kind of trashy. There was lots of bad graffiti, plastic bottles, glass bottles, jugs, wrappers, and so on. The city appears to have some facilities here. Not sure how aggressive they are chasing off people.

(c) 2018 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.