Veterans Mountain -- Not the Landmark You've Been Looking For

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A Sun City resident who wanted to honor the country's veterans persuaded the Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names to slap a handle on a nameless Phoenix peak and (voila!) Veterans Mountain is born.

It's a sweet and sentimental idea, and Air Force veteran Lanny Brent deserves a certain amount of appreciation for thinking of it.

But this peak literally falls short of the kind of natural monument our veterans deserve. As far as the height of other hills in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, Veterans Mountain isn't just second fiddle -- it's at least seventh.

Here's the summit elevation data for some of the highest peaks in the preserve:

Camelback -- 2,704 Piestewa -- 2,608 Mummy -- 2,260 Shaw Butte - 2,149 North Mountain -- 2,104 Lookout Mtn. - 2,054

Veterans Mountain -- 1,920

Part of frustration over Governor Janet Napolitano's push to rename Squaw Peak as Piestewa Peak back in 2003 came from veterans who felt it wasn't right to name one of the Valley's most prominent landmarks after just one fallen soldier. Now veterans have their mountain, but the relative obscurity of the newly named peak makes the victory, well, stunted.

In the Google Maps image above, Veterans Mountain is just left of the marker labeled "D", just west of the Piestewa Peak Freeway (SR 51). We love desert mountains, yet we'd never thought of this one as anything more than part of the collection of hills in the preserve. One of its foothills even seems gravely wounded -- scarred by the earth removal necessary to build the freeway.

We're not sure if a well-defined trail goes to the top -- let us know if you've hiked it and how to best access the route, if there is one. Maybe this crag makes for a good workout, at least. -- Ray Stern