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Pyramid Peak 2269, AZ

Guide 8 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.7 of 5 
46 8 0
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,499 feet
Elevation Gain 777 feet
Accumulated Gain 820 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.9
Interest Off-Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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13  2020-11-22 Nate_F
5  2019-11-30 caragruey
18  2019-01-27 Nate_F
6  2019-01-27 caragruey
4  2016-09-17 MountainMatt
Author Barrett
author avatar Guides 14
Routes 9
Photos 1,371
Trips 286 map ( 1,559 miles )
Age 58 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Feb, Jan, Dec, Nov → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:36am - 7:34pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

Giza Shmeeza
by Barrett

Familiar to anyone who has traveled along I-17 between the 101 and 303 and bothered to look out their side window, Pyramid Peak is aptly named. Its dimensions are almost identical to the iconic Great Pyramid at Giza (756' tall, 51-degree slope) with a hike elevation gain of 770' and possible gulley routes with slopes in the 50-degree range.
Located at the southern end of Biscuit Flat and cut off from development on the south by the CAP canal, it resides on a section of State Trust Land that used to be a favorite among ATV users but now prohibits motorized travel. As a result, the area is now incredibly quiet but has a dizzying network of double and singletrack well suited for both mountain biking and hiking.

From a geologic standpoint, it's similar to the north end of the McDowell Mountains, comprised of Porphyritic granite weathered into spheroidal boulders that allow it to maintain a much steeper slope than the basaltic lava summits typical of northern Phoenix. The integrity of the granite varies widely, with some areas providing rock-solid holds and killer traction, and others easily fractured and covered with slippery grus (the granular fragments of decomposed stone, usually from granite in arid environments).

The area's Flora is relatively sparse, with Saguaro, Barrel, and Buckhorn Cholla being the major succulent players (Teddy Bear Cholla are happily almost nonexistent). Ocotillo, Palo Verde, and Mesquite stand out among the low shrubs of Brittlebush and seasonal vegetation.

Fauna is also on the thin side, which seems surprising given the CAP canal's proximity as a water source and the number of small pools that hold water after rain, particularly to the east of Pyramid.
Access to the peak is made reasonably convenient by parking in the Deem Hills Park lot and walking west along N Deem Hills Pkwy, then turning north along W Deem Hills Pkwy, which soon veers northwest before hitting 51st Ave. Turn right and head north, which will take you to "Road Closed" signs and the CAP canal bridge. Progress beyond this point, which the signs will remind you, requires a State Trust Land Permit, which of course you now have in your pocket.

Follow the sandy N Pyramid Peak Transmission Line road north and decide which route is to your liking. You can ascend the pyramid from almost any direction, and the roads in the area will lead you pretty much anywhere you want to go. Just keep your horizon landmarks/compass/GPS handy, and you should be fine. For guide, I'll describe the Northern Approach, as I feel it's the easiest/safest.
After crossing the canal, you will see several smaller rock outcroppings to your left between you and Pyramid, and you want to get around these on their north side. Continue north under the power lines until you see a diagonal, well worn two-track leading northwest that will point basically to the base of Pyramid - take it. From here, you will pass numerous intersections, but keep choosing the one that heads in the direction of Pyramids north slope, and you will get there. As you approach the northeast corner, you will see a small outcropping on your left, and this is where you will leave the road and begin your off-trail ascent. Proceed uphill toward the rocky section visible about 3/4 of the way up, and shoot for the gully between the two largest outcrops. Honestly, if you keep scrambling uphill, there is no wrong way. As you approach the top, it will become almost completely granite boulder hopping as you reach the north lower summit. From here, you drop down and head into the big cleft boulder, a great place to hang out that is sheltered from the sun and wind. Continuing upward and to the south will take you to the actual summit, where you will find a summit register and tasty 360-degree views. Topos show a 2269' VABM, but I have dug around the entire summit area and found none. I assume it's buried more than a few inches or stolen at this point, but knock your socks off.

From here, I would recommend returning along the same path - I've summited along 5 different routes, but all of them I would recommend going up first before attempting a down climb. The southeast face is vertical rotten stone I wouldn't even rappel, and the south face, in general, is very steep with an exposure that might not be lethal but could entirely ruin your day if not more. Both the east and west slopes have a gulley that makes for a steep, loose, but direct ascent. Like all off-trail adventures, experience and good judgment, along with gloves and an essential daypack, should be all you need. The steep terrain and sometimes wobbly boulders will challenge your sense of balance. I prefer long pants, gaiters, and long sleeves, but the brush, particularly along this route, is not too bad, and you might be comfortable with less.

Access to water depends on seasonal rains, which will create pools near the eastern base of Pyramid. These become quite nasty as they bloom and churn out mosquitos. CAP canal access is illegal, but in a life-or-death situation, it is always on the table, though if you make it to the canal, houses are only a few hundred yards away at that point. Depending on the time of day, entire ascents and descents can be done in the shade of this fairly steep landmark, along with shade found amongst the boulder outcroppings to the southeast - the rest of the approach is full sun.
So if you love beating the crowds, off-trail scrambling, weathered spheroidal granite, and cool, solitary summits (but could do without Catclaw and Cholla), Pyramid might be the peak for you.

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2014-08-31 Barrett
    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.

    Permit $$
    AZ State Recreational Land Permits
    For hiking, driving & sightseeing purposes, you seek the recreational permit.
    Under "Recreational Land Use" in the link above.
    2020 - $15.00 individual
    2020 - $20.00 family limited to two adults and children under the age of 18
    Plus $1 processing fee
    The permitting process quick, you will be emailed your permit instantly.

    Land Parcel Map

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    Taking I-17 North, continue past the 101 on the north side of Phoenix until Happy Valley Rd W. Exit.
    Continue west along Happy Valley Rd for 2.9 miles until you reach N 51st Ave. Turn right.
    Continue 0.3 mi on 51st Ave until you reach W Deem Hills Pkwy, turn right.
    Continue 0.3 miles on W Deem Hills Pkwy until you reach N Deem Hills Pkwy, turn right.
    page created by Barrett on Aug 31 2014 2:06 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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