a short mountain trail in the northwest Phoenix area with classic desert scenery
Westwing Mountain 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 (3.6 mile loop as described)
ELEVATION: trailhead 1,400ft – summit 1,929ft – gain 500ft
ACCESS: paved roads
DIRECTIONS: Please DO NOT follow Google Maps to the “West Wing Mountain Trailhead.” Doing so will lead to a dead-end in a suburban cul-de-sac that’s marked No Parking. The proper parking area is located at West Wing Park. To get here from Interstate I-17, drive west on Route 303 for 15 miles. Take the first exit off the 303 at Lake Pleasant Parkway (exit 131). Turn left, traveling south on Lake Pleasant Parkway for 2.3 miles. Turn left on Westwing Parkway, and after 1.1 miles the parking area will be on your right.
ROUTE: well maintained, busy suburban trail
Leashed dogs are allowed.
Mountain biking is permitted, but not recommended.
Here’s a map showing the trails on Westwing Mountain. You can right-click on the image to view a larger version or download it.
Description of the Hiking Loop
From the parking area, go west and cross the Westwing Parkway at the stoplight on West Blackrock / High Desert roads. Follow the sidewalk up the left side of High Desert Road – you’ll see West Wing Mountain spread out before you.
Posted columns serve as trail markers. They will lead you to a path that’s adjacent to a series of suburban backyards, on your left. The trail will begin in earnest once you reach the 4th cul-de-sac, turning up and to the right.
The footing is notoriously loose as you gain elevation. Try your best to stay on the trail and not to cut switchbacks, which only leads to more erosion.
You’ll be greeted with a plethora of choices once you reach the saddle. Before tackling the meat of the hike, I recommend going left, up the minor summit. This short spur includes the most rugged terrain on West Wing, but you’ll be rewarded with an intimate summit that features 360-degree views.
Once you return to the saddle, you’ll have a choice of two different trails up to the main summit. The main trail is the obvious one you’ve seen going up the peak. The “difficult” aka “extreme” trail is the one to the left, though it only adds 0.1 miles and less than 50ft of elevation gain.
I saw an active hive of bees in the cliffs on the right as I ascended the “difficult” trail one day in April of 2020.
The majority of the loop hike’s mileage takes place on the descent from the main summit. The trail works its way down the mountain’s east ridge until it reaches a small saddle. From the saddle, there’s a 0.3-mile (round trip) spur that leads to a minor overlook.
Though you may have noticed it during prior stages of the hike, you’ll have an up-close look at the New River Dam from the viewpoint. The flood plain of the New River is partially responsible for the lack of development in the immediate area to the northeast.
East of the dam lies Keefer Hill and East Wing Mountain. East Wing has about 2 miles of trails.
Immediately north of the ridge seen above is the site of a new city park (under construction) for Peoria called Paloma Park. The official government page about it is here, whereas a 2019 article about it from AZ Central is here.
Beyond the saddle, the trail works a contour along the south side of the mountain, where views of Peoria’s suburban rooftops are most apparent. Still, the saguaros are thick through here as you close the loop and regain the path to the trailhead.
Calderwood Butte is seen on the horizon in this image. Calderwood is a another surprisingly pleasant little hike, especially considering its shorter distance than Westwing.
My Trip Notes and Photos
I hiked this trail numerous times in the winter of of 2019 into 2020. All of the pictures in this post were taken during a sunset hike on May 2, 2020.
I saw only two other hikers this evening, but Phoenix’s summer heat was beginning to settle in, and it was in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic.