Usery Peak 2786 • Usery Hills
• Highpoint: City of Mesa


The highpoint as seen from Hawes Road
 

Lower down on the trail
 

Now about halfway up
 

Looking back the way I came up. Hawes Road runs close to the base
 

West view, Camelback Mountain
 

East view, with Four Peaks, Pass Mountain and that "PHOENIX" sign for wayward pilots
 

Southeast view, with Pass Mountain and the Superstitions
 

This is the top
 

Arizona PageMain Page

Arizona's
Prominence Peaks

 

Date: January 1, 2014 • Elevation: 2,786 feet • Prominence: 336 feet • Distance: 2 miles • Time: 90 minutes • Gain: 900 feet • Conditions: Gorgeous

This unnamed little hill is located in east Mesa, part of the Usery Hills complex near Falcon Field. This hill is not the highest hill in the Userys, but it is the highest point in the city of Mesa. That was reason enough to explore and climb it.

I had put together the list of city highpoints of Maricopa County about a year ago, but it was John Mitchler, a friend from Colorado, who actually climbed it for its city-highpoint status, back last July. He told me of a trail, which I was not expecting. The climb looked easy: about a mile each way, about 800 feet of gain. Naturally, I’d wait until it was cooler to hike it.

The area around this hill has been developed in recent years. A newer high-end housing development has sprung up on its west and south. On the east is the Usery Mountains Regional Park, with its highpoint, Pass Mountain. There’s also a shooting range and the famous “PHOENIX” with an arrow, written in huge white letters on the hillside, alerting wayward pilots that the airport is still that-a-way. I guess a few have tried to land here for some reason.

I drove here from Scottsdale, following the Loop 202 to Power Road and a series of residential roads to a roundabout on Hawes Road at Sugarloaf Road. Some people had parked up on its raised sections, so I did too. I guess it’s legal to do so.

I walked south on Hawes Road to a small cul-de-sac called Scarlett Drive. There’s one large home on it, seemingly uninhabited, and a gate across a road that leads to a water tank. I walked past the gate and then angled left of the water tank building, catching an obvious footpath here. At first, I trended too far left and started to aim back for Hawes Road, so I backtracked and found a fork I had missed, which went up. This is what I wanted.

The trail marches up the hillside, curling around Hill 2,231 and catching the main ridge just east of this hill. I just followed the track and the cairns all the way to the top, the one-way journey taking about 45 minutes, which included the initial erroneous path, plus some times where I stopped to figure out where the trail or the next cairn was.

The views up here were very nice. I took photos in all directions. The new year’s day was very pleasant, with bright blue skies. I stayed up here about 15 minutes. To the north is a higher hill, the presumed highpoint of the Usery Hills, but this hill lies outside the city limits and access seems restricted due to some tower complexes nearby. I do not know for certain.

The hike down went very quickly. In places the trail was loose rubble, and in one spot I got the worst of a thornbush, giving my shins about 6 new scratches to add to the collection. I was back to my truck for a round-trip of about 90 minutes. Driving out, I followed Hawes Road south to McDowell, then west to Power Road and the Loop-202 freeway, rather than try to repeat the residential roads I drove in on.

There were no signs anywhere restricting access to the hills, and the presence of footpaths suggested that people (probably locals) come here often. The trail to the top is rough, but is cairned nearly the whole way up. It’s not a tended trail, and it probably is not that busy of a trail, but I could see how this trail could be spruced up and made into a regular hiking trail.


Northwest to northeast sweep: the McDowell Mountains in the far back,
Mount McDowell closer in, and the Usery Hills much closer in.

(c) 2014, 2016 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.