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Mount Union, AZ

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Guide 98 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Prescott > Prescott S
3.3 of 5 by 21
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,880 feet
Elevation Gain 1,099 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,093 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.47
Interest Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack Connecting Only
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
11  2019-06-15
Bradshaw Mountains Trifecta
20  2019-04-25
Bradshaw Mountains Trifecta
13  2019-03-08
Mount Davis
11  2019-02-08 Peter_Medal
16  2019-02-07 kelly14
13  2018-09-15
Davis - Union - Tritle - Spruce
6  2018-09-15
Davis - Union - Tritle - Spruce
13  2018-09-15
Davis - Union - Tritle - Spruce
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 8
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, Sep, Oct → Early
Seasons   Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:18am - 6:25pm
Official Route
17 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Big views on the Bradshaw big'un
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
At 7979 feet, Mount Union is the highest point in the Bradshaw Mountains, as well as Yavapai County. When miners first explored the Prescott area in the early 1860's, some Confederate sympathizers among them named a nearby high peak "Mount Davis" for Jefferson Davis. In retaliation, Union loyalists named the adjacent higher peak "Mount Union". Today, a forest service fire lookout stands upon the peak, keeping watch over the vast woodlands of the Bradshaw Mountains.

This hike combines forest trails #285 and #284 to bring you to the top of the peak. Be advised that both of these trails allow atv's. Trail #285 begins on the south side of the Potato Patch cabins area, where Poacher's Row road comes to an abrupt end on forest service land. There is little room to turn around here, so if you have a large vehicle, it might be wise to park along Walker Road and walk the 0.33 miles from there to the trailhead. If you do so, add 0.66 miles to the round trip distance listed for this hike.

At the trailhead where Poacher's Row road ends, two rough atv trails take off into the forest. Take the right fork, which is marked as trail #285, and follow it uphill. Almost immediately, trail #285 forks; stay left and continue uphill through the aspens. Around 0.2 miles, the trail forks again. Go right.

As you hike along the headwaters of the Hassayampa River, tall firs and aspens intermingle, blocking any views of surrounding mountains. Gatherings of large gambel oaks occasionally lean over the trail, forming tree tunnels backlit by the sun.

Higher up in the canyon, evidence of the area's rich mining history can be seen in the form of occasional, partially collapsed mine tunnels or overgrown tailings piles.

About a mile in the trail ascends a few switchbacks, as it nears the head of the Hassayampa River. The Prescott area comes into view briefly, just before trail #285 meets trail #284 in an open saddle at the 7600 foot level. Turn right and begin following trail #284.

As the trail climbs the ridge to Mount Union, sweeping views from the Rim to Phoenix break through the dense stands of gambel oak.

Near the top, at about mile 1.9, trail #284 makes a left (34.41602 N, 112.40439 W), while an unmarked and more primitive trail goes straight. Follow the more primitive trail through the forest. After a few hundred feet, it meets a road. Turn left on the road and follow it a short distance to the top of Mount Union.

A fire lookout and various communication towers greet you at the top of the mountain, as well as jaw dropping, one hundred mile views of central Arizona. Near the fire tower is a summit register stashed in some rocks.

Have fun on the roof of the Bradshaws, and return the way you came.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2007-10-19 PrestonSands
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 34 deeper Triplog Reviews
Mount Union
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Bradshaws: Davis Union Spruce
I had a few loops drawn up in the Bradshaws and we decided to see how we were feeling as the day progressed. The trip up to Davis and Union was the first leg of the trip, and I was actually surprised that John welcomed us up on a windy day with extreme fire danger. He informed us we were the highest people in Yavapai County, and also mentioned something about the elevation. :sweat:

I'm glad there's a tower here as it makes it possible to hit 8,000 feet on the second flight up. :)

I do prefer the views from Davis though.

Did you know: Mount Union was named during the civil war, and in response confederate supporters countered by naming the adjacent peak after President Davis. So there's that.

Back down to Potato Patch where the headwaters of the Hassayampa was flowing to my surprise. A quick break at the truck and up Isabella. At this point, I opted for the shortest of the options on the day and took the old Transcendent Mine trail down to 307 before heading back up to the Spruce summit. To the surprise of nobody, the tower was not open to visitors.

After a quick snack we headed back across the Spruce Mountain ridge and dropped back down to the car via Isabella. We saw surprisingly few people today. There has been a lot of thinning on both Davis and Spruce, but both are still littered with large slash piles that have yet to be burned. Still an improvement over last time.

@tortoise_hiker I promise 9L was there.

Side note: Don't speed through Mayer.
Mount Union
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I was in Prescott for work yesterday and I wanted to spend some time in the snow. There's not a lot of good data online for snow depth on Mt. Union, but instagram's recent posts helped to give me an idea of what to expect. I was surprised by how much snow there was, and for several portions, wished I had brought my xc-skis or snowshoes. I only had time to make it to the saddle, but I really enjoyed the views and the mixed conifer forest just a few miles from Prescott.

A note about the access roads to the TH in winter:
I drove up senator highway and then turned on to Walker Road at Hassayampa Reservoir. This was pretty sketchy on the north facing slopes. There was a lot of ice and relatively unpacked snow. I probably wouldn't drive this again in my subaru forester (at least not when there's that much ice on those hills and tight corners).
Mount Union
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That was awesome. I'm trying to revive my 15-county-highpoint mission and decided to hit Yavapai County's Mt. Union today. I left Scottsdale around 915ish and hit the trail around 1130. Despite the 7000 foot elevation at the trailhead, it was still about 85 degrees. Some cloud cover gave me relief and most of the trail is shaded with trees.

Not familiar with the trail or the area, I got confused by the multiple forks in the trail during the first half-mile or so. Without the HAZ description that I'd printed out and brought with me, combined with my GPS apps (I'm fluctuating aimlessly between Route Scout and Gaia at the moment), who knows how far I would've wandered. I met one group of 3 hikers while they were on their way down. I guess I missed seeing PrestonSands (who authored this trail's description, thanks amigo) by one day.

At the top, I was careful to read the signage about what's permitted in terms of climbing to the top of the lookout. A sign says that visitors can climb to the top but they do so at their own risk. To me, this meant I had permission to enter the station if it was open. What I didn't realize, since I don't climb into a lot of ranger watch stations, is that Ranger John (who PrestonSands reports has been there for 21 years) intends that permission to be limited to the ladders only and not the interior of his station. As I climbed up, I saw that the door to enter was wide open, and after calling out to see if anyone was around, I just popped in. While mesmerized by how lucky someone was to live in a place like this, I took this 360 photo from a window:

And right after that Ranger John popped his head up, not terribly pleased that a total stranger was basically in his bedroom. Clearly, though, John is a friendly guy because as soon as I apologized and told him I didn't realize that this was his private space, he insisted that I stick around as long as I wanted to take photos. Nice guy, and what a cool story that he's been there for two decades. John told me I should get some nice shots from the helicopter pad too, so I walked down and did so:

I also experimented with my 360 camera's social media capabilities and was successful in doing a live 360 degree Facebook broadcast to my family. (I am a major dork and the world definitely doesn't need to see me in my full dork mode, so the broadcast was to immediate family only and I won't link to it here.)
Mount Union
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A return to my Prescott favorite at last! Shauna, my brothers Ryan and Alan, and myself bounced down the Senator Highway to Potato Patch, and began our hike into lush conifer delight. Little had changed over the last four years, still beautiful and woodsy. I noted a couple of mines I hadn't seen before on the way up. The four of us visited the helicopter pad for photos and enjoyed the view, and had lunch in a shady patch. John the fire tower watchman invited us up, and we accepted. Was nice to talk with John, now in his 21st year manning Mount Union. On the way back down below the saddle, we stopped to explore an old mine tunnel, and see the old arrastra. The old tunnel appeared to go in quite a ways, but flys attacking my every orifice caused me to retreat. Saw a few other folks out hiking the route heading down, they appeared to be enjoying the hike as much as we were. So great to share one of my favorite spots with my family.
Mount Union
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Groom Creek-Davis-Union
I woke up and read a text from Ray saying he woke up late and would be there in 15 minutes. My alarm never went off, I got ready in 15 minutes and was there 45 minutes late. Hopefully not an omen for the day.

Temps were 70 at the start and 73 to finish, with the mid 60's in the middle. Cloudy most of the day, with some sun and got a light rain for 15 minutes at the end. Pretty lucky all-in-all with nastier weather all around us. Muggy was the theme for the day.

We started clockwise on the Groom creek Loop #307. This is a steady climb and we decided to take the shortcut trail at the 2 mile mark to cut across to Isabella. It'd been 7 years since I'd been on this one. It's easy to follow, but since it's not an official trail, none of the dead fall is removed. No problems getting around it at all.

Right at the Isabella Trail turn, Ray spotted a Rafter of 3 hens and a dozen or more poults. I don't think I'd seen poults before in the wild.

Down the Isabella Trail #377 and the walk through Potato Patch, we tried to guess which house was Peter's.

I've never cared much for the climb up the Dandrea #285. It's rocky and loose.

At the saddle we made our turn to get to the off trail portion up to Mt Davis. I love the views up the top of the rocky outcropping. The Peak Register IS gone. It's not where it used to be and we checked other spots with no luck.

Next I made my way over to Mt. Union to visit with the lookout, John and get some scoop on the Goodwin Fire. The fire never got any closer than 4.5 miles from the tower. He said a couple of Forest Service workers called it in and it was not visible to him for another 1/2 hour. You could see some scarring from up there where it crossed Big Bug Mesa, but the majority of the burn was farther east.
He had some dispatch personnel come up in the tower while I was there, so I let them go about their business.

We went back the way we came and then completed the Groom Creek loop. It'd been awhile since I'd be on this section. Quite enjoyable. We kicked up a small buck still in velvet to close out the hike.

Enjoyable hike. Good to hike w/Ray again. Thanks for driving.
Mount Union
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Union Davis Loop via Yankee Doodle
I put together this nearby valley loop above 7000' to try to beat the summer heat. My regular hiking crew joined me at 5am for the 90 minute drive up the I17 to 69, through Mayer and Breezy Pines. Chased a flock of turkeys, both young and old, up the road between Breezy Pines and 5 points until my hiking companions jumped out and shooshed them off the road. Once up to the 5 points intersection, take the hard right onto Big Bug Mesa road, trailhead is about a mile up the road on the left.

There's a nice little parking/camping area at the Yankee Doodle #284 trail complete with a fire ring. A typical forest service carbonite sign marks the beginning of the trail. The Yankee Doodle and Dandrea trails are multi use; hiking, biking, horseback riding, motorcycle, and ATV. We would not see another soul on the trails today.

Yankee Doodle trail quickly ascends the side of Mount Davis through an infinite number of switchbacks. The surrounding low brush affords little shade in the morning on this eastern slope. After about a mile tall trees provided some much needed relief from the already blazing sun.

We took a side trip on Mount Davis trail to check out the views. Did I say trail? Yeah, there's no trail. There is a nice thick patch of knee high cat claw to get you started. Fortunately, it doesn't last very long and you find yourself wandering under a delightful canopy of pines until you get to a pile of rocks at the top. I searched around a bit for a summit register but didn't find one. There's great views over to Mount Union and up Walker Road to the north.

Down off Davis and back on Yankee Doodle, it's a short walk to the 4 way Dandrea Trail intersection. There's a shady clearing with a log bench to relax on and pick the debris from the Davis excursion out of your boots. Just a little over 0.5 more miles up Yankee Doodle a side trail splits off to the right and takes you to the Mount Union Lookout Tower road. The side trip to the tower rewards you with 360 degree views and some interesting banter with a 20 year veteran of fire lookout service. After filling our packs with Smoky the Bear swag we retreated back to the main trail, slipping and sliding our way down to Forest Service road 261. Just across the road we found the Arizona Trail Riders dirt bike club doing a Yankee Doodle trail maintenance day with the Prescott National Forest. They were doing trail restoration on the section of Yankee Doodle between FS 261 and Senator Highway.

We, however, would follow FS261 about 1 mile to its intersection with Dandrea Trail #285. Most of this road section is loose and rock with little shade. Dandrea gains about 400 feet in 0.6 miles to rendezvous back at the lovely intersection with Yankee Doodle. A sign at the beginning of Dandrea stated it was closed due to deadfall, however, it was clear all the way up to Yankee Doodle.

It was hot, we were tired, and most importantly, there was talk of stopping in Rock Springs on the way back to Phoenix for some pie and ice cream. We made haste back down Yankee Doodle to the truck and fired up the AC. I couldn't believe to find that it was already 96 degrees at 11:00AM at 7100'!

It felt an eternity until we pulled into the Rock Springs Cafe parking lot. Tip for any future diners, if there's a long line, you can sit at the bar and get full service, as we did, and be eating before you'd be seated waiting for a table.
Mount Union
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Mt. Union - Davis
I had a different plan in mind for today, instead I opted for a fun relaxing trip up to a new area I hadn't seen before, the Bradshaws.

I was pleasantly surprised driving down Walker Rd to see very healthy looking groups of Aspen so close to the Valley. The area was a little more developed than I had anticipated, but it is done in good taste. The temperature was around 83F when I arrived around 3:30PM, very comfortable when you're in the trees for the entire hike. Yet another great place to escape to when the mercury rises in the Valley, without breaking the bank on gas.

At the top of Union I enjoyed a summit beer and cool breeze on the wooden platform, climbed the tower, and then headed for Davis. I was expecting the route to have cairns so I just continued walking down the trail (or road?) from Union looking for a pile of rocks. After consulting Route Scout and discovering said piles of rocks probably didn't exist, I searched for a good opening in the brush and hopped off the trail.

It has been a good long while since I've done some off-trail bushwhacking. A refreshing change of pace really! I need to do these more often. It wasn't particularly bad, only one section of being creative with my trekking poles to avoid the cat claw. The views from the summit of Davis are ok, but I liked the views from Mount Union slightly better, despite the towers. I think the journey is better than the destination on this one.

Can't wait to come back and explore more!
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Spruce-Davis-Union-Tritle Shuttle
Up at 4am I checked the radar and Prescott what getting nailed with a heavy thunderstorm.
I knew it would be a humid one. Temps on the day ranged from 62 to 78. Not bad for a July.

Ray was our shuttle commander today. He dropped us at the Groom Creek TH. Clockwise on the Groom Creek #307 up to Spruce Mountain, we stopped at the Fire Lookout. Red is gone and Suzie is back in the tower. All the windows were open and the hummingbirds were flying feeder to feeder through the tower.

On to Isabella #377 and down to Potato Patch.

Dandrea #285 is my least favorite in this loop. A group of hikers pointed out the best example I've seen of an Arrastra, which made this trail a plus this time.

The off trail to Mount Davis is always a worthy track. Some really good views.
Video from the Top of Mount Davis :next: ... HT8Y

Next it was off to Mount Union to visit with John for a bit before lunch on the Helipad.

The planned route had to be adjusted after we ran into some Private Property. This is the first time I'd taken FR52B to the top of Mount Tritle. A worthy route with some nice views. We searched for the Summit Register with zero luck.
We meddled with the Peter Medal route off the north side. This route was a super highway for about half the way down. After that, not so much. Finally in the Hassayampa, travel was much easier.

Our shuttle driver picked us up while walking on...Walker Road. Thanks Ray!
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Spruce - Davis - Union - Tritle Shuttle
Bruce wanted to medal around Peter's neck of the woods. A morning thunderstorm swept through before our arrival. The forecast looked promising. It turned out to be about the best weather you can expect for July. Humid yet clouds kept the sun off us more than not along with some nice breezes.

We hit the peaks in the order linked above. We've been many times and will likely return. Close to the Valley and a gem if you can dance around the storms which seem almost daily in July.

Tritle and I were not the best of friends. We hiked the backroad up this time. What a difference. Lots of trees and I didn't feel like I was skirting deliverance. We started down a Peter route which to our surprise was a local trail through tall pines. Unfortunately it looked to be going towards FR79. So we off trailed through medium nonsense down to the Senator Mine. Nothing bad, just really wanted that local trail to roll east instead of west. The Hassayampa had more flow than I anticipated, maybe from the morning storm?

Nice hike, thanks for the shuttle Ray!
Mount Union
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Union has been on my wishlist for almost 5 years. I wanted more elevation gain than the standard approach and decided to take the Palace Station/Yankee Doodle idea off the back burner.

I hit the road around 5:30am and didn't start hiking until almost 10am since I neglected to bring a road map. :D I wound up asking for directions near Potato Patch, promptly messed them up, and headed back towards Lynx Lake to check with Google. [-( Turns out I had it right the first time, but I backtracked after second guessing.

The section of Senator Highway that heads down to Palace Station was a lot rockier than I had expected. The tread on my tires isn't what it used to be so I took it slow. Really slow. My car's old suspension was making noises I've never heard before. I parked a tenth of a mile north of Palace Station and finally set out on the hike.

Continuing my theme of ignorance for the day, I didn't realize the first half of #284 was in chaparral. Not so bad on the way up - kind of warm on the way down. The upper half of the trail was great once it was in the trees. Union has an exceptional 360 degree view. The lookout was unmanned so I helped myself to the stairs.

Looks like the drive in took longer than the hike. It was probably worth it. :whistle:

Permit $$

Prescott Forest
Prescott National Forest Pass

Only trailheads with six "amenities" have fees. Amenities are picnic tables, trash, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.

Map Drive
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To hike
From the highway 69/highway 89 junction in Prescott, head east on highway 69 for 2.85 miles to the Walker Road stoplight. Turn south on Walker Road (a.k.a. county road 57, which later turns to dirt), and follow it for 10.5 miles to its junction with Poacher's Row road. Turn left and follow Poacher's Row road for 0.33 miles through the Potato Patch cabins area to its end on Prescott National Forest land. There is a brown fiberglass signpost for trail #285 next to a large tree.
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