Best Scramble - 2011
The real summit of Piestewa Peak
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people hike the summit trail of Piestewa Peak in Phoenix — but stop short of the real summit. The vast majority who complete the steep, 1.2-mile Summit Trail turn around after reaching a lesser prominence, located about 30 feet lower. We consider this poor style. What if Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay had stopped 30 feet short of the summit of Mount Everest in 1953 and said, "Screw it — we're close enough!" Besides, scrambling up to the actual summit is easy and fun. No climbing rope is needed, but you'll have to use your hands. Instead of bearing left to the mound of pointy rocks with most of the hikers, follow the short chute right and straight up. We also enjoy taking a second route, which involves picking your way up and over the boulders leading from the hikers' summit. At the tippy-top, you'll see the U.S. Geological Survey medallion embedded in the rock that marks the true 2,608-foot summit, plus you'll find a nugget of solitude.