It is without a doubt, that with plenty of sunshine and mild temperatures, the late fall and winter months in Arizona are ideal for getting outdoors and taking a desert journey, where not only can you explore its pristine and remote desert mountain wilderness regions, but also experience the legend and lore that still remains today of the ‘Old West’! Just a short drive from the Phoenix metro area, lies the rustic western town of Wickenburg, where once a booming gold mining town in the mid-late 1800’s, you’ll find yourself stepping back into the history of the “Old West”, and where you’ll also find yourself amazed and in awe of the rugged beauty of the town’s surrounding desert mountain landscape. So if you’re up for taking a journey for an experience of the ‘Old West’, an excellent hiking adventure that’s remote and off the beaten path with a thrilling, mountain climbing scramble, and plenty of gorgeous panoramic mountain top scenery, then I highly recommend you experience the Vulture Peak Hike, in the Vulture Mountains, just outside Wickenburg, Arizona.
It was on a beautiful late November weekend morning that I met up with the TLC Hiking Club at a meet up location in northwest Phoenix and by 8am, after all members had arrived, we set out our day’s journey together heading for the old town of Wickenburg on US Route 60. This relatively short desert drive out west to Wickenburg on US 60 was really part of the adventure on this day and after quickly arriving at the outskirts of town by 8:30am, we continued following the signs for US Route 60 through the central commercial corridor of town aptly named, Wickenburg Way.
Wickenburg, according to all historical accounts, was founded in 1863 when successful mine owner, Henry Wickenburg established the Vulture Mine after having discovering rich nuggets of gold that afterwards set off Arizona’s 1st gold rush. Shortly there later, more gold deposits were also found, and consequently more mines were established in the surrounding area and the town rapidly grew to become Arizona’s 3rd largest city and according to history, almost became the state’s 1st territorial capital! Today, as you pass through the central part of town on Wickenburg Way, you immediately notice all the old western buildings that still remain with antique shops, stores and galleries that line both sides of the street as the town still holds tightly onto its historical ‘old western’ lore and character even attracting many visitors worldwide each year to its famous cowboy dude ranches located near by. In fact, for anyone who’s an “Old West” history enthusiast, you can even take a self guided tour of the original and some would claim very “haunted” Vulture Mine, which is located 12 miles southwest of town on the Vulture Mine Road, and just 5 miles further down the road from Vulture Peak where our day’s journey and adventure was going to lead us.
After passing through town on US 60, aka Wickenburg Way, for roughly 2 1/2 miles, we came to the turn off for the Vulture Mine Road. We made a left and continued a scenic drive and journey out into the beautiful and very rugged looking Vulture Mountains. We thoroughly enjoyed the strolling drive through the rolling hills for roughly about 7.0 miles until we came to a sign on the left for the Vulture Peak Trail head. We made a left onto a well graded dirt road and drove for another ½ mile until we finally reached the large parking area and the trail head for the Vulture Peak Trail.
We had arrived at the Vulture Peak trail head by 9 am and after getting packed up and geared up, we quickly set off for Vulture Peak, which now stood before us looking very beautiful, yet also very massive and extremely rugged! From its main trailhead the Vulture Peak Trail begins as a gentle stroll along the desert floor for about 1 ¼ miles, first descending into then crossing through Syndicate Wash until at about 1.7 miles later you arrive at a signpost with a metal fence and gate behind it which is located at the trail’s Upper Trailhead, and which you can also access with a good 4WD vehicle should you want to do so.