The Mountains of Arizona •

Peak 2045

The top, now from a higher vantage

Closing in on the top

Top of Peak 2045

View over at peak 1943

The ridge I just walked

West view: The Union Hills are closer in. In back are the Thunderbird Hills (left) and Ludden peak (with the flat top). Way in back are the White Tank Mountains and the Bradshaws

View south at my car

Peak 1943, from below.

View south at Point 1938 from near Peak 1943's top

Closer in to Point 1938

Look back at Peak 1943's top

Somebody went through a lot of work to honor Dani

Peak 2045 as I descend off of Peak 1943

All images

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Cave Buttes Dam

Peak 2045 • Peak 1943

There are four ranked (prominence of 300 feet or higher) summits that lie near the Cave Buttes Dam in north Phoenix. These hilltops have no names and are the southern extension of the Union Hills. I hiked two of these on a whim, a result of some other plans falling through and road closures in the Phoenix area keeping me away from other areas.

Peak 2045
• Union Hills
• City of Phoenix
• Maricopa County

Date: October 20, 2019 • Elevation: 2,045 feet • Prominence: 395 feet • Distance: 1.75 miles • Time: 45 minutes • Gain: 840 feet cumulative • Conditions: Sunny and slightly warm


I had flown into Phoenix late the previous night after a trip with my wife. I was tired and did not sleep well. I awoke Sunday (today) intending to veg. I watched the Liverpool and Man-United match on the telly, in which Liverpool scored a late goal to pull out a 1-1 draw. Then I wanted to go onto campus to do some work.

I got about a mile from my home and discovered today was the Ironman Triathlon day. This meant all roads in and around ASU were shut down completely. So I retreated back home, the time about noon. I had no other plans. The day was nice, only about 80 degrees at noon. I decided to go hike somewhere local, a place I could get to quickly. These peaks fit the bill. I originally planned to hike Peak 2045 and Peak 2111, but my plans altered as opportunities arose.

Peak 2045 was my first goal. This peak lies east of the Cave Buttes Dams (there are two, an older brick bulwark, then downstream, a much larger and newer earthen dam). Satellite images show a bunch of roads and trails around an on the peak, so it did not look difficult. The tricky part was finding a place to park legally to access the peak.

In June, I drove here to hike it, but saw there was a lot of construction in the area. There are a bunch of new homes and future homes under construction (this being the Stone Butte subdivision). There was nowhere to park, so I left and hiked another peak in the area. Today, I returned. Being a Sunday, I figured there'd be no construction going on.

I arrived in the general area a little before 12:30 p.m.. From the Loop-101 freeway, I exited at Cave Creek Road and went north, then turned onto Mountain Pass Road at a light. This was an error, as I got into the left-turn lane too quickly. I decided to follow it anyway, as I was close to Peak 1943. I figured I would drive around the homes and see if there was a place to park. If I got lucky, I'd hike this peak first. Anyway, I drove around and saw nothing promising, so I exited, got back on Cave Creek Road, and then north to Pinnacle Peak Road.

I turned left and drove into the newer construction, noting a lot of new roads put in. I was able to drive up to the west base of the hill to a cul-de-sac. There was a guy there in his Jeep. I asked him if it was cool to park here and he said, sure, he does it all the time. We talked for a little while. I started hiking a little before 1 p.m., the day sunny and warm, about 85 degrees.

I walked through open desert a few yards, then up the immediate slope to where I caught a jeep road. Hiking down to it, I was now on the west tip of the hill, the jeep road staying on the ridge to the summit to the east. The walk was easy and went fast, and within minutes I had arrived to the summit. I had good, crisp views in all directions and the warmth was not an issue. Sometimes a breeze would pick up, cooling me.

I did not stay long here, and started the hike down. Instead of retracing my route, I walked directly south off the slope, angling east and generally keeping to a path of least resistance. The brush was light, but the rocks occasionally turned under me. I had my eye out for snakes but did not see any. I was back to my car after 45 minutes.

While up top, I had a good view of the road layout below me and saw that I could place myself near Peak 1943 near some open lots where just the frames of homes stood. I drove to the area and drove around until I found a spot that looked okay to park. I started walking immediately, the time about 2 p.m.

Peak 2045
• Union Hills
• City of Phoenix
• Maricopa County

Elevation: 1,943 feet • Prominence: 378 feet • Distance: 1.75 miles • Time: 1 hour


Peak 1943 is a loaf-shaped mound of volcanic rock and grassy brush with a few saguaro cactus on its slopes. The highest point is on its north tip, while a slightly-lower point, elevation 1,938 feet, is at its south end and hosting an antenna of some sort. I actually did not know where the highest point was. I was doing this from memory.

I walked across the flat desert a few yards, then started up slope, generally more up than over, but sometimes angling left. It was hotter by now and I was moving slower. I followed a rough zig-zag pattern up, arriving onto the top ridge a few dozen feet south of the highest point, which I took to be any one of about six rock outcrops. I tagged each one.

I then walked about a third-mile south to the south tip and that antenna. I circled around the fence and also spotted a well-done heart made of rocks in honor of someone named Dani. I never really stopped, and soon started the downward trek. I dropped off the east side and angled down the slopes, weaving through openings in the brush, mindful of snakes. I was soon down onto the flats and back to my vehicle. I had been gone 45 minutes.

It was just shy of 3 p.m. when I finished and I considered driving over to Peak 2111, but I was happy to get these two hilltops done and get on my way home. I'll come back on a later date for the other hilltops.

(c) 2019 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. World Hockey Association