OverviewMount Bangs is the highest peak in the part of the Virgin Mountains in Arizona. It is located in the Paiute Wilderness Area, one of the remote wilderness areas of the Arizona Strip. It is distinctly higher than all the other peaks in the area, and rises dramatically when viewed from the Mojave Desert to the west. A good trail runs north/south near the mountain which facilitates access, however to reach the top some bushwhacking is required as well as some scrambling as the top is composed of piles of large boulders.
On USGS maps it is labeled as Mount Bangs, however the benchmarks that are driven into the summit denote it as Hancock Peak (which may be an alternate name). USGS maps also have both names. There is no summit register at the top, and it is doubtful that it sees much traffic. There is a faint trail leading through the brush near the top, and cairns occasionally marking the way over the boulders, but it is highly likely that you will need to pick your own route.
The Paiute Wilderness contains 84,700 acres and is wholly contained in Arizona. It's primary feature is the Virgin Mountains which extend into Nevada to Virgin Peak (8071'), the high point of the range. The Virgin River separates the range from the Beaver Dam Mountains (also partly protected as a Wilderness Area in both Utah and Arizona) to the north which continue for some distance into Utah.
For those interested in prominence, Mt. Bangs is the 28th most prominent peak of Arizona. See list here and peak info here.
Getting ThereThe peak can be accessed from either the north or the south. From the north the Sullivan Trail leads from the Virgin River Recreation Area just off of I-15 for 15 miles. The trailhead is 1.5mi downstream from the parking area ($2) and you must cross the Virgin River (if possible). The trail is apparently ill defined in places, but follows the Sullivan Canyon much of the way before eventually continuing along the spine of the Virgin Mountains on a jeep trail. I have not hiked this trail, but it would seem that only those with good navigation skills, several days, and an adventurous spirit need apply.
The southern trailhead at Cougar Springs is reached after traveling rough roads requiring a 4x4 in parts. The approach to the peak is considerably shorter from this side, but the trailhead may be impossible to reach for many vehicles. There are two primary routes to the trailhead that I am aware of: via Black Rock Road (close to the Utah border) and via Elbow Canyon Road (close to the Nevada border). The first is longer, but less rugged, whereas the second is much shorter but reportedly quite rugged.
For the Black Rock Road route head south from St. George on I-15 for approximately 8 miles and take the Black Rock Road exit. Follow this road, BLM 1009, as it goes through the quarry, and stay on it for around 20 miles. A high-clearance vehicle should have no problem with this road. There are many roads that leave this one, but if you stay on what is obviously the main road, you should not go astray. Look for road markers at junctions that read 1009. After driving for the 20 miles you will come to a junction where 1009 continues and 1004 branches off to the right. Take 1004 for approximately 13 miles over what at times is a very rough road. It takes you up and over Black Rock Mountain and in between the two sections of the Paiute Wilderness. Note that this section of the road is closed from November 15 to March 15. The next turn is a right which takes you to the trailhead after a short distance. However, the creek flowing down Cottonwood Wash here has washed out the road to such a degree that a high clearance 4x4 is absolutely necessary to cross it. A bit farther along 1004 is another way that crosses the wash at a slightly easier place and connects back up with the other road. The road ends at barriers at the Cougar Spring Trailhead where the trail begins.
For the Elbow Canyon Road route roads from Mesquite, NV lead to a corral (marked on USGS maps) at the mouth of Elbow Canyon. From here it is only 8 miles, but rugged 4x4 ground. SP member MoapaPk reports, however, that "as of Apr 05/2008, there were no spots you couldn't negotiate with a bit of patience. The road actually gets better for most part, above 4000'; however, it has a substantial grade, so lower-powered vehicles may have a hard time. The biggest disincentives to that road are the heavy ATV traffic, and the lack of pullouts when folks want to pass." You may elect to stop earlier and hike the remaining distance to Cougar Spring of course. SP member Dean has written a trip report about driving this route which is linked to this page. It contains excellent information, pictures, and maps of the route. He also links to another trip report by Harlan which also has maps and photos.
There are probably other ways to reach the southern trailhead, but these are the most convenient. If you want to look for other ways, help yourself, there are all sorts of BLM roads in this part of the state.
Red TapeNo permits are required, not that anyone would know you were out there anyways.
The Paiute Wilderness in which Mt. Bangs sits is administered by the BLM out of their field office in St. George.
Arizona Strip BLM Information Center
345 E. Riverside Drive
St. George, UT