Badger Spring Wash And Piestewa Peak

After visiting Sedona, Arizona the previous day, Zosia Zgolak and I returned to Phoenix on 14 April 2018.  On the way back, we stopped for a short hike along Badger Spring Wash in Agua Fria National Monument (from I-17, take Exit 256 and drive east for about 1.3 kilometres on Badger Springs Road to the signed trailhead).  The hike follows the mostly dry wash down to Agua Fria River where there are some petroglyphs on a nearby bluff.  Failing to decipher the meaning of the petroglyphs, we briefly wandered along the flowing river before returning to the trailhead and resuming our drive to Phoenix.
Not likely to see any badgers here. Badgers? We don't need no stinkin' badgers!! Zosia hikes along Badger Spring Wash.
I'm not sure why we get so excited about ancient graffiti... Zosia finds some petroglyphs on a short cliff face near the end of the wash.
It says, "Kilroy was here"! Sonny tries to make some sense out of the petroglyphs.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

I'm not sure if this water sticks around after the hot summer months. Zosia makes a splash in Agua Fria River.
Man, I hate having to go uphill on the return trip! Zosia contemplates the slightly uphill walk back to the trailhead.
Really only worthwhile if you happen to be camping in the area or passing by on the I-17. Total Distance:  2.9 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  1 hour 4 minutes
Net Elevation Loss:  25 metres

GPX Data

Upon returning to Phoenix, Zosia and I headed to Phoenix Mountains Preserve (accessed via East Squaw Peak Drive) to hike up Piestewa Peak.  Formerly known as Squaw Peak, Piestewa Peak was renamed in honour of the first female US soldier killed in the line of duty in Iraq.

Much like nearby Camelback Mountain, Piestewa Peak has a good trail all the way to the summit and is equally busy.  As such, the most difficult aspect about climbing the peak is finding parking near the trailhead.  We were fortunate to find a parking spot in a lot just outside the preserve's entrance gate, and after a short walk to use the washrooms at another parking lot, we joined the throng of people marching up the main trail.

The well-maintained trail winds efficiently up the southwest ridge of Piestewa Peak, and although there are no route-finding difficulties, the heat and the crowds can make the trail seem longer than it really is.  At trail's end, the true high point requires a short but easy scramble to reach, but strangely, the majority of hikers we saw up there did not bother with this and were content to lounge on a lower and more spacious subsidiary summit.

After a long and satisfying break at the top, we descended the same way without incident.
The gate closes at 7:00 PM! Piestewa Peak rises behind the gate into Phoenix Mountains Preserve.  Note the spike strip in the far lane.
Try walking on the curb! Sonny passes by an ocotillo as he trudges up the well-built trail.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

It's like following the yellow brick road! The trail winds its way up the southwest ridge of Piestewa Peak.
Whew! I'm looking forward to a shower after this hike! Sonny continues to hike up the trail under an increasingly hot sun.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

If you want solitude, you're in the wrong place! Not surprisingly, the trail is very busy on this day.
Almost there! Zosia approaches the summit block.
Best part of the ascent! To get to the true high point requires some easy hands-on scrambling.

Our 15th and final summit of our 2-week trip to southern Arizona!

Zosia and Sonny sit on the summit of Piestewa Peak (787 metres).


Anything that looks green out there is probably a golf course! This is looking back down the southwest ridge of Piestewa Peak.  Downtown Phoenix can be seen in the distance.
Must be locals if they don't care to tag the true high point! Some other hikers relax on the lower subsidiary summit.
Good place to dump a body... Northeast of Piestewa Peak is an oasis of undeveloped desert in the midst of the city.  On the horizon right of centre are the Four Peaks.

It's probably just as busy over there as it is over here!

Camelback Mountain sits to the southeast.  Visible on the left horizon are the Superstition Mountains.


It's good at climbing rocks too! This ornate tree lizard appears to be re-growing a new tail.
This thing was big as a football! A common chuckwalla rests beside the trail watching hordes of people walk by.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Diet root beer and veggie hor d'oeuvres--mmmmmm!!! After the hike, Zosia sits down for lunch under a ramada near the trailhead.
Another must-do peak in Phoenix! Total Distance:  4.6 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  2 hours 39 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  358 metres

GPX Data