Whiskey Spring Head • Lake Pleasant Hills
• Highpoint: City of Phoenix

Looking up the road, with Whiskey Spring Head to the right

Sarah and Andy Martin slowly walk up through the big saguaro

Andy, John and me atop Whiskey Spring Head. Photo by Sarah

View southwest at Peak 2765, our next objective

Andy's truck down below

View east. My truck is somewhere down there

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Prominence Peaks


Date: February 23, 2014 • Elevation: 2,866 feet • Prominence: 546 feet • Distance: 1.5 miles • Time: 2 hours • Gain: 1,000 feet • Conditions: Warm with high clouds • Teammates: Andy Martin, Sarah Marton & John Mitchler

For years, the highest point in Phoenix was Camelback Mountain, at 2,704 feet, or South Mountain, with an interpolated summit elevation of 2,710 feet. However, Phoenix has incorporated land farther north, encompassing some hills that border Lake Pleasant. By dumb luck, Peak 2866 got absorbed and is now the new city highpoint.

I know all this because about a year ago, I thought it would be interesting to determine the highpoints for all of Maricopa County’s two dozen incorporated towns and cities. It was tricky to find websites that carefully showed the city limits exactly, then match them up with the topographical maps. Peak 2866 even has an unofficial name, Whiskey Spring Head, since it sits above Whiskey Spring.

John Mitchler, a climber from Colorado and a fan of the new city highpoint list, was eager to visit Phoenix’ highpoint. He came out last summer and hiked Mesa’s highpoint, and scouted the Phoenix highpoint, bailing due to the heat and bad roads. He was back in town for business, and we were joined by Andy Martin and his wife, Sarah. We met one another at 9 a.m. where 67th Avenue intersects with New River Road west of Interstate-17. The day was clear and going to be warm.

Up here, there’s no development. The land is mostly Arizona State Trust land. Even though 67th Avenue is a major boulevard in the main part of Phoenix, up here it’s just a dirt section road bulldozed into the desert. We drove north and in a mile, came to a posted gate and a home. Not wanting to deal with the occupants, we backtracked south onto a gas-line road.

We followed the gas line road about a mile northeast, then eased left onto a track trending mainly north to where it intersected another road that paralleled some power lines. John parked his car here and rode with me. I followed Andy on the powerline road and less than a mile later, we came to a left turn, onto a very rough road that wiggled west up toward a pass just south of Peak 2866.

I wanted no part of this road, so I decided to park here and hike in. Andy bashed his truck with Sarah and John up to the pass, then waited for me. It only took me about 15 minutes to walk up this road, about a mile of distance and 300 feet of gain. We convened again, then started the climb to Peak 2866.

The peaks here are volcanic, shaped like bread loaves and covered in consistent slopes of rounded basalt boulders, brittle brush, saguaro, and thickets of cholla. There’s no trick to gaining Peak 2866. We hiked north directly uphill and about 30 minutes later, we were all on top. Along the way, we had to work around and through a very thick cholla patch, and I got a few onto my pant leg and a couple onto my skin.

The last hundred or so feet was steep, with looser rocks, but we walked slowly and had no issues. The day was fairly warm, and we spooked a snake at some point. We heard a weak rattle, so he may not have been close by. Up top, we took a few moments to locate the summit rocks. Believe it or not, others have been here before us. But just the usual suspects, Nick Scouras and Bob Packard.

Lake Pleasant as seen from atop Whiskey Spring Head

We took a few minutes to rest and relax up here. The views were nice, and our next objective, Peak 2765, was visible southwest of us. The main treat here was the unique vantage of Lake Pleasant. The sky was blue with high clouds and some glare from the sun. Our hike down went well, trying to avoid slipping, scaring snakes, or getting caught up with the cholla.

We were back to Andy’s truck, and we were going to drive the half-mile to another saddle below Peak 2765, but Andy had left his lights on and the engine wouldn’t turn over. No big deal. We walked the road toward Peak 2765, and would deal with the battery issue when we got back. The story continues...

(c) 2014, 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.