a short, surprisingly satisfying hike amid the suburbia of northwest Phoenix
Calderwood Butte Trail Guide
PARK HOURS: sunrise to sunset
MAP: see below, or go here for a PDF
PERMITS: no permit or entrance fee is required
DESIGNATION: city of Peoria
BEST SEASONS: fall, winter, spring
DISTANCE: varies (traditional 1.5 mile loop from 99th ave)
ELEVATION: trailhead 1,400ft – summit 1,700ft – gain 300ft
ACCESS: paved roads
DIRECTIONS: from Route 303, travel south on N Lake Pleasant Parkway for 3 miles. Turn right on W Jomax Road. After 0.3 miles, turn right on N 99th Ave. After another 0.3 miles, the parking area will be on your left. Calderwood Butte Trailhead registers in Google Maps.
ROUTE: well maintained, busy suburban trail
Leashed dogs and mountain biking are permitted.
The trailhead has limited parking spaces. If you discount the locals arriving on foot and by bicycle, this effectively puts a cap on the trail’s use.
Nearby Westwing Mountain and Sunrise Mountain trails may provide more distance and elevation change, but this is a gem of a walk that’s not to be overlooked.
Here’s the map posted at the trailhead. You can right-click to download it or view a larger version..
Calderwood Butte features a pleasing ascent that’s just enough to get your heart pumping, in addition to two unique summits and an impressive cliff on its northeast face.
Wildflowers are abundant in the spring, and you’ll find classic desert vegetation like cholla cactus and saguaros.
The peak’s geographic isolation lends to its sense of fulfillment, with 360-degree views from the summits. The views remain somewhat rural, with the Aqua Fria River immediately to the west and Lake Pleasant to the north.
As an isolated landmark along the Aqua Fria River, this was a landmark for indigenous people and early pioneers.
The peak is named for Captain M.H. Calderwood, caretaker of a nearby stagecoach station (Coldwater Station) in the late 1800s.
Faded evidence of the Hohokam people’s activity can still be found in the surrounding area, including petroglyphs that have since been marred by vandals.
Here’s some more pictures from Calderwood Butte, shot when I hiked the trail on the evening of April 10, 2020.