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Vulture Peak, AZ

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Guide 106 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Southwest > Wickenburg
3.8 of 5 by 48
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,500 feet
Elevation Gain 1,155 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,340 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 10.9
Interest Peak
Backpack No
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25  2018-12-01 Naferg323
24  2018-02-03 Nightstalker
6  2017-11-22 hoopshiker
5  2017-11-04 BobP
2  2017-11-04 Tortoise_Hiker
14  2017-04-28 caragruey
6  2017-03-14 princez
3  2016-11-05 JuanJaimeiii
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Author JoelHazelton
author avatar Guides 16
Routes 10
Photos 967
Trips 406 map ( 1,971 miles )
Age 33 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Preferred   Oct, Nov, Mar, Apr → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:15am - 6:37pm
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0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
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Culture Nearby
Short and STEEP
by JoelHazelton

You have two options with Vulture Peak. First option is a quick workout hike up to the saddle. This is a 0.8 mile 800 foot elevation gain. Your second option is to start from the back trailhead. This tacks on 1.4 miles each direction and a beautiful stroll in and out of washes up to the second trailhead at the base of the mountain.

From the lower passenger car accessible trailhead, the trail begins flat and wide. In a couple hundred yards you drop into an unnamed wash and then promptly climb back out. At this point my sister and I started to feel our lunch of Filibertos. It's not a good idea to eat greasy Mexican food before you hike. Anyway, from here you travel over a couple hills and through the bottom of a wash before you hit the upper trailhead. The trail is extremely easy to follow as it is well marked with very large cairns the entire time at the bottom of the wash. Once you leave the wash, the road to the upper trailhead is visible and you reach the parking lot in about a minute. From the upper trailhead (only accessible with a 4wd vehicle) you will begin your ascent. Actually, you've already climbed 200 feet, but you can't really feel it. For some reason, the first stretch of trail from the upper trailhead was the most difficult part of the hike for me. It is not a very steep grade, but it is relentless, and the ground was very soft and muddy from the previous night's storm. It's not long before the real climb begins, though. Once the trail really starts to go up, you gain elevation very quickly through a series of tight switchbacks that become steeper and tighter until you reach the saddle. I would say this is about a 700 foot climb in .6 miles. Since it was so wet this particular day, there were several spots of water trickling off of the boulders above the trail into small pools on the ground during the portion just below the saddle. At the saddle, you get great views of the back of the White Tanks to the east, and views of, well, I don't really know to the west. It's a good view, though.

The actual summit of Vulture Peak will be to your left when you are looking towards the White Tanks. It's tempting... The trail to the top is not maintained and is very STEEP. Like, hand over foot type. It sure is fun, though. Just make sure that you can get back down anything you go up. The route to the top is pretty straight-forward. You basically follow the narrow gully up. At one point you have the option of going straight or veering off to the right (It sounds vague, but you'll know). We chose to go right because it looked less steep. It worked very well, but I'm sure either direction is fine. At the top you get wonderful views all around. I didn't know anything to the south or west, but the Bradshaws, White tanks, Estrellas, Vulture Mountains, and Hieroglyphic Mountains dominated the other directions. There is a geo-cache with a logbook and some random other stuff that's pretty fun to look through. Stay up and enjoy the views for a while, but make sure to head down before it gets dark. Footing is fairly tricky and some of the rocks are loose, so you want plenty of light to get back to the saddle. It's only a couple of hundred vertical feet though, so it only takes about 10 minutes. The hike from the saddle back to either trailhead also takes no time at all. At your car, look back at the mountain you just climbed. That was easy! Really, though, it is easier than it looks.

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2007-12-04 JoelHazelton
  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
    area related
    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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 15 deeper Triplog Reviews
Vulture Peak
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Nice desert hike. We hiked on a Thursday and saw only about a half dozen other hikers on the trail. The trail is easy to follow and as others have described is an easy hike for the first mile. The second mile from the 4WD trailhead to the saddle is more difficult due to the trail being steep, having a lot of loose rocks and limited use of switchbacks. We were satisfied with reaching the saddle and didn’t attempt the more technical climb to the summit.

Vulture Peak
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Nice little hike to start the New Year! Thanks for organizing this, Pam! I can't believe none of us offered to help carry some of the party supplies :oops: Thanks for bringing sparkling cider for the designated hikers! It was great to meet some new HAZ folks! I'm still worried about Bob and his cardboard friend though. Good thing we're having an intervention for him on the 12th.
Vulture Peak
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Hmmm....For the first time, I actually have Writer's Block... :o Not good, considering what a great day it was... :wrt:

2 hours and a half a pack later, I've got it now...I just had to figure out how and where to start... :o :D

I kept looking at pictures of that Peak and the thought of another heavy pack, up another difficult Peak was psyching me out, so I figured what the pumpkin and weighed my pack before I walked out the door. Psyche!!! 3 Full sized Bottles, (2 Champagnes, 1 non-Alcoholic Sparkling Cider, all wrapped in bubble wrap) 3 Tupperwares, (2 Cookies, 1 Chocolate covered Strawberries) 1 bag of Plastic party glasses, corkscrew, (just in case) 2 liters of Water and my barest of minimal gear, including a jacket, and I was out the door...I didn't put it on, but just lifting it, it felt heavier than my one and only Backpack trip.... :sweat:

The drive didn't take as long as I thought and even after a long wait at Micky D's in Wickenburg, I hit the TH about 8:30. I was the sole vehicle at the TH at that time. It was a tad chilly. I got a text from an unknown saying they were at Mickey D's and would hit the TH about 9:15. Kinda suspected it was from Randal with the "we" in the text. I knew he drove a purdy Red Truck, so when a dark Blue one came roaring up the road towards me, my first thought was that someone had been taking driving lessons from Todd. I forgot what color his Truck was, but sure enough, no one can drive like that except Todd, so when he popped out of the cab with his Mardi Gras Beads, Top Hat, Tiara, and something to keep his Kilt Lifted, I knew I shouldn't have been surprised... :sl:

Before too long, the Parking Lot started to really come to life, as Barrett and Preston showed up after an unsuccessful Arch Quest, followed by Dave and his wife, and then Randal and crew. Patrick pulled up the rear, but didn't stay in that position the rest of the day... :) We decided that with so many capable Toyotas in town, there was no need to start there and we all piled in the three Tacos for a fun little ride up to the upper TH...Something got into Todd, and he spared us from premature adrenalin on the way up... :sweat: Either that, or I scared him when I told him that the Bottles were just sparingly padded... :sl:

On the drive up, we encountered a Hare with Rocketfeet, carrying a life sized Tortoise...Not something you see everyday... :sl: They weren't hitchhiking, and I guess one look at the Crew in front of them made them decline a ride. They probably felt safer on foot... :D

Finally assembled and ready to go at the upper TH, minus one member who was going to catch up to us later. Slung on the Pack for the first time, and it actually wasn't as bad as it felt...That pack has always been super comfortable and worth it's weight in gold... :DANCE: Everyone insisted that I be first out of the gate, but knowing the Crew I was hobnobbing with, I quickly surrendered that lead about 10 steps in... :sweat: That would be almost the last I would see out of the fastest 8 until the Peak... :D But I was surprised. Yes, it was a gasper going up, but I actually had a little company this time and made the Saddle in fairly decent time. Preston and Randal stopped for a bit to wait for Randal's friend, Dave, who had a bum knee. I stopped long enough to catch my breath and decided to keep pressing, as I knew, typically, just about everyone was waiting. It was actually a fun Scramble up from the Saddle. Patrick popped his head over and spotted me a better area in the most difficult section. A little challenging, but not bad...I've seen and done worse... :)

And I arrive...To an awesome Party already in full swing... :D Dropped the Pack, took a little time to absorb the views, take some pictures and then it was time to indulge. Unpacked the treats onto a nice, little Rock Ledge, and we went to town! Bob, the Rocketfooted Bartender, nicely opened and poured while Denny looked on and kept grinning... :lol:

I drink Champagne very seldom, but I can tell you that that was the best tasting Champagne I have ever had. Wow! Not only did it taste good, but it also cut the thirst from the exertion, so it was double awesome. We toasted and drank and ate and joked and laughed. It was almost perfect!!! It became more perfect when a Yeti's head popped up from the notch and landed on top. Preston finally caught up to us!!! So the banter kept right on going with fresh meat... :sl: After more rounds of laughter, another Tour around the Peak, Photo Ops, a Group Shot and cursing the missed shot of the Stealth Bombers going overhead, it was time to head down and meet up with the other Preston and Dave, who couldn't quite make it up to the Peak. I wanted to catch up to them and share some of the treats, as I didn't want them to be totally left out... :cry: Just as we were leaving, another group showed up and told us that Preston had left the Saddle and was on his way back to the TH. I was still hoping to catch him, but we never did. Turns out, he took a shortcut back to his car and was anxious about getting home for the Rose Bowl. Sorry to hear your team lost Preston... :( Did catch up to Dave and we all piled back into the trucks for the ride back.

Upon our return to the lower TH, Randal pulls a Tailgate Party out of his hat and treats us all to barbecued Hebrew Nationals and Cheese Puffs, along with a few more Brews...WTG Randal! : app : Awesome! It was the perfect way to wind down before we all went our separate ways and went exploring again... :lol: After coming down to the lower TH, I'm glad I set the start time I did, the Parking Lot was packed!... :o

What a great day, with a great group of friends, new and old. A huge thanks to everyone for joining me and helping me welcome in the New Year! It rocked!! 13 very cool people helped lighten my pack at the top and then packed it all out...Not a drop remained... :sl: I think this is going to become an awesome Tradition and am looking forward to doing it all over again next year! Extra special thanks to Bartender Bob, who has joined me now for two years in a row! : app : I hope more of you can join in on that streak next year... :D

Happy New Year HAZers!!!! :y:
Vulture Peak
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I was awakened early on New Year's and decided that instead of going back to sleep I should join up with the big HAZ group celebrating the holiday at Vulture Peak. As I crossed the Hassayampa in Wickenburg just before 9am, the thermometer logged 29 degrees.

I got to the TH and only Pam was there already. But by 9:30 we piled into three of our Tacos and decided to drive the 4wd road to the upper trailhead. Along the way, I almost ran down Denny and Bob who had come in from another parking area about 1/2 a mile closer to town than the actual trailhead parking.

A small group of us made quick time to the saddle before taking a short break and heading to the peak. Eventually everybody made it up and Pam pulled out the champagne and snacks. Somebody not associated with our group stopped by and lit some fireworks to celebrate the day with us. Preston decided to join in and we all managed to help Pam lighten the load for the hike down.

Back at the TH, Randall served up delicous grilled dogs and Cags before we all headed our separate ways. It was nice to see the familiar faces and meet the new ones. Thanks Pam for putting it all together!

(From the upper TH, I had the ascent at .82mi and 986ft).
Vulture Peak
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Note: The 4.2 miles and 1340 feet is from the fancy (lower) trailhead, not the upper trailhead. From there, it is more like 1.0 miles and 1100 feet to the peak. (I measured .8 and 880 to the saddle.) Looking at it from the TH, I was like, no way, it's straight up. But really, it is not bad, steep but steady. Personally, I made it up to the saddle, bringing up the pacing-ourselves rear with Pam and Randal. I started up the chute to the peak, and about halfway up the climbing section started to feel uncomfortable. Not physically, but mentally: The actual climbing, and angle, made me think I better go back to the saddle so I didn't freak out and become one of those "that guy"s :roll: you see being choppered off Camelback every week. (It's not the altitude -- I used to jump out of airplanes -- but rather the thought of doing endos down a cactus-strewn cliff.) Pam was a real trooper humping a 35-pound pack all the way to the top! : rambo : So, I explored around the saddle, for about 45 minutes, then headed back down where I eventually met up with Randal's pal who had popped his knee en route and was slowly heading back. :stretch: Got back to the upper TH, then followed washes and side jeep trails back to where I parked my car, at the access about .5 miles north of the lower TH entrance off Vulture Mine Rd.
Vulture Peak
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Getting a late start after a late New Years Eve, I hiked as fast as I could up Vulture Peak. I met kingsnake at the saddle, and the rest of the group (including Flat Denny :lol: ) at the top, where we enjoyed champagne and snacks courtesy of Pam. After photos and revelry, our group descended to the trailhead, where Randal hosted a tailgate party and grilled hot dogs. After the party wrapped up we went our separate ways.

Thank you Pam for organizing this fun hike and for hauling all the party supplies up to the top of Vulture Peak, and thank you Randal for lunch! It was great to hike with old friends and meet new ones! :) ... Qw&index=1
Vulture Peak
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New Year's Day on Vulture Peak

Pam (aka Outdoor Lover) organized a New Year's Day trek scaling Vulture Peak to kick off 2013 => viewtopic.php?t=7328 .

6:45am rendezvous with Mike, Dave, and Matt at the Ahwatukee Einstein's Bagels and we hit the road to meet up with Pam et al at the Vulture Peak TH 9-ish. It was an impressive show by Pam getting all the appropriate gear to the top of the peak where we all indulged in the treats with a view.

We had time for a Cag and a Hebrew back at the TH. Good to see some HAZ'ers I haven't seen in a while, plus a few new ones! We even had a surprise visit from "Flat Denny"...

Made our way to Vulture Mine (check out => and ) after saying our good-byes only to be disappointed by the "CLOSED" sign! Seems that the mine is only "OPEN" on Saturday's at 9:30am for a guided tour...
Vulture Peak
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i've been wanting to do this peak for a few weeks, but the drive to wickenburg seemed a little long for a 4.2 mile hike
so the east siders headed west to do this one and had a second hike in mind to make the drive worthwhile
took off from the lower trailhead just after sunrise and it was a little chilly to start
the first mile or so doesn't climb much
the trail winds in and out of some beautiful desert with vulture peak dead ahead
after the upper trailhead, the incline increases, heading up to a saddle
a short scramble from there, and you're on top
nice summit area with an ammo can sign-in
great views of the mountain ranges and the odd RV area
another peak that i would hike quite often if it was closer
Vulture Peak
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After visiting family in Yarnell, I just kept driving south. The Vulture was calling. Hit the trail at 4:30 pm and made the summit in under an hour, where I wallowed in the late afternoon light enjoying the view. Chuparosa bushes were starting to flower and the Johnson Pineapple cacti had little buds forming. Made it back at dusk as a bright moon rose over Vulture Peak. I drove into the night listening to streetgrass and contemplating the future.
Vulture Peak
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Heading south down Yarnell Hill on highway 89, the silhouette of Vulture Peak came into view in the hazy distance. It would be my first visit to this area in nearly a decade and I knew it was going to be a fun day.

I arrived at the Vulture Peak trailhead late morning, surrounded by beautiful desert hill country, and promptly set off. The countryside was green from recent rains. Numerous cacti made me feel right at home, including one specie I had never before seen in its native habitat.

Sweat laced with sunblock burned my eyes as I began the climb up Vulture Peak's western slope, where I encountered the first group of hikers returning from the summit. The desert floor grew distant, and I soon reached the saddle. The last little climb to the summit was a fun scramble up the rocks. After roaming around on the summit, I sat down to enjoy a sandwich and a view. The crows and I were the only ones on top the entire time.

I made a leisurely return hike, taking in the sights and just enjoying the desert experience. Along the way I replanted a large twin barrel cactus that had uprooted itself after tipping over. Wanting some additional exercise, I hiked up the 4wd road towards the peak then took the trail back.

The day was getting late, so I left the desert playground behind, rehydrated at Circle K in Wickenburg, then made the scenic drive home through Congress, Yarnell, etc. I could not have had a more satisfying day. :D

Permit $$

Map Drive
Info is below 'Directions to trail'

To hike
From Phoenix, take the 60 (Grand Ave) west to Wickenburg. Just shy of Wickenburg, stop at the rest stop and take a look at the Hassayampa River, which is pretty much perennial at this point. Once in Wickenburg, veer left onto the 60 at the intersection of the 60 and 93. The 93 will take you north to Prescott. Continue about 2.5 miles on the 60 (over the Hassayampa, which is usually dry at this point) until you reach Vulture Mine Rd, which will be a stoplight. Turn left and follow 6.7 miles to the turnoff for the Vulture Peak Trail, which will be marked well going either direction. Follow the well maintained dirt road through the parking lot about a half mile to the trailhead. If you have a 4wd vehicle, follow the dirt road an additional 1.4 miles to the upper trailhead. The lower trailhead is accessible by any passenger car.
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