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Thursday, January 12, 2012

The easy way up Union Peak

GREAT HORNED OWL-UNION PEAK LOOP
Phoenix Sonoran Preserve

Ahh. There's nothing quite like the feel of a brand new hiking trail-- especially when it leads to a mountain top. 
Up until last month, I had never heard of Union Peak--not to be confused with Mount Union (see my other blog entry) near Prescott.  Who knew? It's hiding in plain sight off  I-17 north of the Jomax exit in the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve and now (woot, woot), there's easy access  to its summit.  Getting to the peak involves connecting several trails and although there are many options, the most direct route is described here.
Be warned, though, that some of the trails do not have signs yet , so it's prudent to download the preserve map (link below) before heading out.  On the way to the peak, hikers are treated to mellow passages studded with cholla and desert shrubs, dips into rugged arroyos and climbs to high points with gorgeous views.  The final 0.45 uphill leg to the peak has a couple of tricky/steep spots, but it’s otherwise just a moderate slog.  The summit is comprised of three stoney humps linked by a footpath. While up there, be sure to locate the hiker log (a small glass jar with pad & pencil) to document your visit. 
Looking northeast from the summit of Union Peak
HIKE DIRECTIONS:
From the trailhead, begin on Hawk's Nest (H) Trail and hike to the turn off for Desert Tortoise Trail (DT) at the 0.25-mile post.  Turn right (southeast) and follow DT 1.12 mile to Valle Verde Trail (V).  Turn right (south) and continue on V 0.6 mile to Great Horned Owl Trail (GO).  This is the loop portion of the hike, so you can go either right or left.  However, if you plan to hike up Union Peak, go left to get there quicker.  Once done with the loop,  retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
LENGTH: 7.45 miles roundtrip
RATING: easy-moderate
ELEVATION:  1,600' – 2,200'
DOGS: dogs must be on leash and handlers must pack out poo
KID FRIENDLY: yes
BEST SEASON:  October -April
FACILITIES: no restroom or water, plenty of parking, trail map sign, and there’s a special lot for horse trailers
HOURS: 6 a.m to 7 p.m.
GETTING THERE:
Desert Vista Trailhead:
From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to Jomax exit.  Go 0.2 mile on Jomax to Norterra Parkway, turn left (north) and continue 1.2 miles to North Valley Parkway.  Turn right (south) and go 0.2 miles to Copperhead Trail.  Turn left and go just a few yards  to Melvern Trail.  Turn left on Melvern and go 0.1 mile  to Desert Vista Trail on the right .  Follow Desert Vista through a gate that leads to the trailhead..
INFO: City of Phoenix, Phoenix Sonoran Preserve
 http://phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/sonoran/index.html

1 comment:

Donna Hull said...

Hi Mare,
Enjoy your Arizona hiking tips. I'm Donna Hull, one of the AZ Voices Network travel bloggers. This week, I'm introducing all of the AZ Voices travel bloggers to our readers at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook. Today, it was your turn!
Happy travels,
Donna