The Mountains of Arizona •

Skyline Regional Park & Victory Stairs, Arizona
Valley Vista summit seen from the Turnbuckle Trail
Skyline Regional Park & Victory Stairs, Arizona
Nearing the top, a jogger is up ahead
Skyline Regional Park & Victory Stairs, Arizona
Top of Valley Vista
Skyline Regional Park & Victory Stairs, Arizona
View southeast, parking lot, and the next objective, Crest Summit
Skyline Regional Park & Victory Stairs, Arizona
Crest Summit is in back, a little to the left
Skyline Regional Park & Victory Stairs, Arizona
Crest Summit
Skyline Regional Park & Victory Stairs, Arizona
View of Valley Vista from Crest Summit's summit
Skyline Regional Park & Victory Stairs, Arizona
Descending Crest Summit, the low mountain in the center is Victory Stairs
Skyline Regional Park & Victory Stairs, Arizona
The Victory Stairs
Skyline Regional Park & Victory Stairs, Arizona
Summit from an intermediate ridgepoint
Skyline Regional Park & Victory Stairs, Arizona
Closing in on the top
Skyline Regional Park & Victory Stairs, Arizona
Top of Victory Stairs Peak

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Skyline Regional Park

Valley Vista • Crest Summit • Victory Stairs Peak

I returned to the Skyline Regional Park for the first time in two years, this time interested to tag two unranked summits and hike some more trails that I had yet to hike on previously. On the agenda were Valley Vista and Crest Summit, and for trails, the Turnbuckle, Mountain Wash, Lost Creek, Skyline Crest and Quartz Mine Trails would all see my bootsoles during the course of my hike.

Since I was in the area, I also explored and hiked up the Victory Stairs, a 200-foot uphill grind composed of railroad ties forming steps. The summit of this hill was of interest too. I would not drive all this way just for the one hike, but it would be a good time to hike it as an add-on from the morning's big hike. Combined, I'd hike a little over 8 miles.

The weather has finally broken for the better. Days are still hovering around 100° in the daytime, but pleasant in the mornings, with lows in the 70s. I knew if I got an early start, I'd have a few hours before the heavy heat set in. I was on the road an hour before dawn and to the Skyline Park parking lot just as the sun was rising.

Valley Vista
• Skyline Regional Park
• White Tank Mountains
• City of Buckeye, Maricopa County

Date: September 23, 2021 • Elevation: 2,330 feet • Prominence: 240 feet • Distance: 3.2 miles • Time: 2 hours & 45 minutes • Gain: 820 feet • Conditions: Sunny, clear and pleasant


I pulled into the lot a little before 6 a.m., the sky mostly dark but with hints of light to the east. My temperature gauge read 82° outside, a little warmer than I expected. However, it was dry and very mild, not uncomfortable at all. The lot was mostly full, a lot of people already here hiking and walking their dogs. I got dressed, got my boots on and locked up my car, walking at 5:50 a.m.

I walked over the steel bridge that spans an arroyo. I was on a trail a little ways, going left once off the bridge, then I got onto the Turnbuckle Trail, going north up a drainage. It was just light enough to see clearly, a little warm, but not bad. I kept a good pace. Toward the meager headwall of this drainage, the trail bends right and achieves the ridge. Now out of the drainage, I had breezes that helped cool me off.

I went left and continued along the Turnbuckle Trail, which here is an old Jeep road. This gains up to another saddle. The highpoint of this ridge is named Valley Vista, and was another third of a mile south along a rougher spur trail.

Up until now, I had not seen anyone after I started hiking. About halfway up the spur some jogger is hot on my tail. He just showed up out of nowhere. I let him pass and he continued jogging, while big slow me continued walking. I was on the peak shortly. The one-way mileage, going by what's on the trail map, came to 2.1 miles, with over 800 feet of gain. The trails were fantastic the whole way up. I think it took me about 45 minutes, but I wasn't keeping track.

The sun was still low, being blocked by the hills to the east. I stopped for a minute or two on the summit and tagged the high rocks, plus snapped a few images. Lighting wasn't the best. I had too much glare to the east, too many shadows elsewhere. The temperature up here was about five degrees cooler, and felt good.

I hiked back down, a group of five now hiking up the spur. Back on the Turnbuckle, I retraced the half-mile segment down to that lower ridge, then went left (east), now on the Mountain Wash Trail. This segment ran 0.3 mile and dropped about 200 feet. I had covered 1.1 miles from the summit, again going by the trail map's figures.

Crest Summit

Elevation: 2,110 feet • Prominence: 220 feet • Distance: 3.3 miles • Gain: 480 feet


Where the Mountain Wash trail bottomed out, I got onto the Lost Creek Trail, which gained steeply, picking up about 300 feet in 0.3 mile. From here, I hung a right and started following the Skyline Crest Trail, heading south. This trail gained steeply up hard against a couple ridge bumps, then traversed below these bumps, on a slight downhill gradient. This portion of trail was particularly impressive, being essentially a shelf trail hewn into the steep slope and cliffs of this ridge. An older couple passed me going the other way.

In about a mile, the Skyline Crest Trail dropped about a hundred feet, placing me at a T-junction with the Quartz Mine Trail and the spur trail to the top of Crest Summit. A young woman hiking had told me of a rattlesnake causing trouble at this T-junction, apparently it would not get out of the trail tread. When I got to this T-junction, the snake had slithered off. I had been mindful allday about snakes anyway. It was still plenty warm for them still.

The spur to the top went fast, and I was soon on top of Crest Summit. The top is a tiny ridge with two rock outcrops of about equal height. I tagged both, and snapped more images. The parking lot was immediately to the west. I could have picked my way down the slopes, but given the likelihood of encountering a snake, I chose not to. I was perfectly happy to keep to the trails today.

I hiked back down to that T-junction, took one last look for the snake, then hiked down the small spur that connected to the Quartz Mine Trail, which I followed for 1.5 miles in a big loop back to my car. I arrive back at 9:40 a.m., lagging a little due to the warmth. The whole hike covered 6.5 miles with about 1,200 eet of overall elevation gain. When I got in my car, the temperature gauge read 88 degrees, which is the upper end of tolerably warm for me. I was feeling good. The hike had gone well and I had no hurry to return home. I had a noon zoom meeting, and I still had almost three hours to kill.

Victory Stairs Peak • Peak 1931
• Verrado Community

Elevation: 1,931 feet • Prominence: 411 feet • Distance: 1.8 miles • Time: 1 hour • Gain: 560 feet • Conditions: Sunny & much warmer now • Wildlife: Gila Monster


I drove back to the interstate, then east briefly, getting off at the Verrado exit. I went north through the "town" center, following the road to its legal end where signs bar further access. I parked in a lot set aside for hikers. The trailhead was a short walk beyond the restrictive signs. I simply followed everyone else. The lot held about 20 cars, and the people there were a mix of young and old, men and women, and a few children.

The Victory Stairs (or Victory Steps, or Victory Staircase, depending on what website you may be viewing) is a steep series of steps, 340 total, made up of railroad ties. The stairway gains about 200 feet. By now, about 9:30 a.m., it was warm, about 90°, and I was a little beat from my earlier hike. So I moved slowly and tried not to rush things.

I walked up the steps at a steady pace, covering the distance in about 10 minutes. I was no faster or slower than everyone else. It is an energetic workout and could be a prime reason that the people who live in Verrado have the shapeliest butts in all of America.

At the top of the steps is a flat platform of natural ground and essentially the upper limit for most people. I met a couple, about my age, coming down from higher rocks. We talked briefly, and a sign nearby the rocks showed a couple trails to follow. I hung a left and started up a rough path through the rocks, gaining about 40 feet, to where the trail becomes more distinct again once past the rocks. The trail comes to a T-junction. I had no idea which way to turn, so I went left.

This path worked fine, but it was rocky. I eased through some breaks in the rocks and found a much better trail, the one that comes up had I turned right. I followed this better trail up another 40 feet to top out on a ridge point, now with the summit in view, about 150 feet up and a quarter-mile distant. A woman hiking toward me confirmed that there is a path to the top and pointed out where I could find it.

I stayed on the main path as it angled left below the summit mass, aiming for a saddle about 300 feet away. Once at this saddle, I found the use-trail that leads to the top. This trail is not part of the formal trail system, but enough people have hiked it to beat in an obvious path. It was wide enough and clear enough to see if there were any snakes hiding therein.

About halfway up, the trail becomes a low-end scramble for about 60 feet through a rock band. The rock lays back nicely and the scrambling is easy. Above this, I followed the trail again to one last rock barrier. I went up and over it, a catwalk about 3 feet wide and 15 feet long. Then down a few feet, then up the last 30 feet to the summit. A saguaro grows at the very top. From below it looked like a crested saguaro, which are rare, but when I got closer, the crest was just a bunch of little "regular" arms in a clump.

I tagged a couple bulders and snapped a photo, but I did not linger. The one-way hike covered a little under a mile with 560 feet of gain, in about a half-hour. I was hot by now, and slowing a little bit. I had half a bottle of water remaining. I kept moving and retraced my route. The egress hike took about 15 minutes. Along the way I scared up a big colorful chubby Gila Monster, who took off into rock crevice as I passed by. I think he's the second one I've ever seen in the wilds. I met that same couple again near the top of the stairs, then slowly walked down the 340 steps. (I didn't count them. A nearby sign says there are 340 of them.)

I was back to my car at 10:30 a.m.. By now, the lot wasn't so full but there were still a few people showing up to hike the stairs. My car said the temperature outside was in the mid 90s now. I stopped for drinks at a quicky-mart, then drove home to clean up and attend a few zoom meetings.

While I would not climb this hill on its own given its distance from home, I enjoyed the hike, both the stairs and the "natural" routes up high, and the hike to the top wasn't completely trivial. I would recommend it. Also, this summit gives me 499 ranked summits within Arizona. I see 500 on the horizon very soon.

(c) 2021 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.