Tramonto Peak • Phoenix Sonoran Preserve
• Maricopa County


Tramonto Peak from the dirt road off of Galvin Road
 

Now seen at the end of the dirt track
 

Another view as I hike up
 

Now at the saddle below the top.
 

The summit is just ahead
 

Northeast view of New River Mountains, New River Mesa, Skull Mesa and Elephant Mountain
 

West view. The hill at center has no name but gets shot at thousands of times a day, being the backdrop of the Ben Avery Shooting Range
 

North view. That's Daisy Mountain, then Gavilan Peak to the left, then the Bradshaws way back there.
 

Southwest view of lower peaks, and the Deem Hills in back
 

East view into the morning glare. Black Mountain is the main peak seen. The Carefree Highway is to the right.
 

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Date: April 2, 2017 • Elevation: 2,448 feet • Prominence: 638 feet • Distance: 1.5 miles • Time: 1 hour • Gain: 580 feet • Conditions: Perfect

Tramonto Peak is in north Phoenix, northeast about two miles from where the Carefree Highway meets Interstate-17. It's an unofficial name, not appearing on any maps. It's named for the Tramonto housing development in the valley west of the peak. I didn't plan extensively for this peak. It's close and easy to get to, one of many peaks I keep handy when I get the urge to hike and just want to be out the door, not worrying about logistics.

The peak is part of a range of hills which apparently also do not have a name. Looking at a topographic map, the hills run a dozen miles from the northwest to the southeast. They lie south of Daisy Mountain and north of the Union Hills, but are not part of the Union Hills. They're just a bunch of unnamed hills in a grouping not worthy of a name. Ridgeback Mountain, which I hiked last year, is part of this mysterious range. Much of it is now within the boundaries of the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve.

This is a short hike, and the weather was fantastic, so there was no urge to be at the trailhead at dawn. I left home a little before 9 a.m., exiting Interstate-17 at the Carefree Highway, then driving east a few miles to 7th Avenue, then north on 7th about a quarter-mile to Galvin Road, and then west on Galvin. This is a residential area, big homes on spacious lots, some abutting the east slopes of the peak and its subsidiaries.

I drove to where Galvin "ends", bending right onto 17th Avenue, looking for a place to park. I talked to a woman out walking and she confirmed parking here along the road is fine. No one minds, or at least she doesn't. I backtracked onto Galvin and parked near a big pile of gravel in front of a home under construction, figuring no one is there to shoo me away. I was walking at 9:12 exactly.

I walked back to where Galvin ends, a dirt track trending west along the Galvin alignment. There was a sign for the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve about no dumping, shooting or off-road driving. This track is rocky and unsuitable for any vehicle anyway. Even for hiking, the abundance of loose rocks was not welcome. But the track is short. In a quarter-mile, it ended in a flat area. The satellite images show a trail picks up from here, but it took me a minute or two to find it. The grass was thick and uniform, hiding anything on the ground such as small rocks, trails and possible snakes.

I found the path, which would become more distinct, then just as fast, "disappear" in the grass. Someone had one through the trouble to paint small gray dots on rocks every twenty feet to "mark" the trail. It was not a challenge to keep to the trail, even when it grew faint. Soon, I was at the saddle directly below the peak.

I turned right and continued upward. The trail here switchbacks once or twice up the steeper slopes, then simply barges up slope, very few bends to mitigate the grade. It was a fast climb, gaining about 200 feet from the saddle, and I was on the top ridge quickly, and to the summit cairn soon thereafter, the one-way hike covering about three-quarters of a mile and taking me about 25 minutes.

The top was rocky and grassy, with barrel cactus and occasional cholla. I spent a few minutes up here snapping images, but didn't stay long. I hiked down exactly the same route. Going down, the steepess of the slope and the loose rocks forced me to take things very slowly. I never actually fell, but I came close about ten times.

Once back to the saddle, the grades were much more lenient, and I jog-walked out, back to my vehicle in just under an hour. The round trip hike had covered a mile and a half, with nearly 600 feet of gain. It was short but a good workout, and the peak itself is attractive and worth the trouble to come here and hike it.

So it's now just 10:15 and I have a lot of time to kill. This was by design. I wanted to scout other hills in the area, looking at access options, things like that. I drove eastbound on the Carefree Highway to Cave Creek Road, then south back toward the Loop-101 freeway. I had a second peak on the agenda, a 2,075-foot hilltop with no official name, but once host to a gold mine called the Union Mine, back from the 1880s.

I was not too confident I would hike it, not sure about access. The satellite images show lots of trails including one to the top, so clearly it gets hiked. But there are no public parking areas, suggesting the general public is not welcome, although not explicitly prohibited. The peak has a couple housing tracts on its east and east slopes, and some light industrial outfits on its north, along Deer Valley Road.

I tried Deer Valley Road first, looking at a possible way in via 16th Avenue near a couple of these industrial shops. It looked promising, but I thought there may be a better option, so I exited, went west to 7th Avenue (where the Phoenix FBI buildings are located), then south on 7th Avenue to Lone Cactus, then east into a business district. I drove to the end of one road loop, parking along the road with a straight shot toward the peak. But I didn't feel comfortable here. My vehicle would be by itself, and there was a cop nearby. I didn't want to attract attention to myself, and not 100% sure about what kind of access was allowed, I didn't need a cop questioning me. So I bailed and tried Options C through J.

I got myself onto westbound Beardsley Road, the frontage to Loop-101, then entered into a newer housing tract and simply drove the roads, looking for let-in points. There were a few, some immediately below the top where a hike would probably take just 30 minutes. Buuuut... the same concern of whether I would attract attention nagged at me. I don't like to park in residential neighborhoods. There was no tiny park nearby where I could park.

Long story short, I did not hike Peak 2,075, but now know exactly what to do, and a study of the satellite maps plus my own familiarity with the area, I know here I can park safely. I live just a dozen miles away, so coming back here is not a problem. All this exploration took just 30 minutes. So I went home, got some lunch, showered, ate, rested and hung out with my wife and the kitties.

(c) 2017 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.