Temptation Peak is the highest point to the right (NE) above the Meridian Trailhead north of Mesa. It is just to the east of the popular Usery Mountain Preserve and Pass Mountain. The ridge line portion of this hike is not often traveled and covers rough rocky terrain.
Temptation Peak is not considered the highest point on this ridge. Rather, the unnamed Peak 3195 is considered the high point. Temptation Peak is also unofficially listed at 3,195’ by a couple sources (including Lists of John), but Peak 3,195 is officially listed at that height by the USGS, and thus given the dominant position on the ridge. For this reason, Temptation Peak is considered to have a prominence of only 250’, although there are many ups and downs along the ridge that make this peak more significant.
To the north, the ridge contains two large rocky summits (including Peak 3195) as well as another rock formation seen in the middle of the photo below. These rocky summits are difficult to access because it requires off-trail hiking and at least Class 4 climbing which is better done using some climbing gear.
Temptation Peak itself is very rocky and requires Class 3 moves with exposure to get up and down. It can be done as a loop hike to the east of the Meridian Loop, or as part of a side trip off of the Meridian Loop from Bulldog Saddle.
Because there are off-trail sections to reach Temptation Peak, it is advised that it be hiked in the winter months. Late November through early March is preferred. Hikers that go off-trail when the temperature begins to climb can run into rattlesnakes. If temperatures in the Phoenix valley are approaching 70 degrees, hike earlier in the day.
The Meridian Trailhead is at the north end of and Meridian Road in Apache Junction.
From Phoenix, take the Superstition Freeway (US-60 E) to the 202 North. Take the Brown Road exit and head east for almost four miles and take Meridian Road for two miles north all the way up to the Meridian Trailhead at the corner of Meridian and McDowell. There is parking at the trailhead and on the street.
There are two routes to the summit, which can be done as a loop hike or just an out and back via the primary route or taking the Meridian Loop to the west on the return.
The primary route starts from the Meridian Trailhead and uses the immediate right fork. After about 1.4 miles the trail reaches the Bulldog Saddle at 2,617’. Once there, head up a steep trail on the right for about a third of a mile up to Pt. 3113.
From Pt. 3113, descend about 110' down to a saddle between it and Temptation Peak. There are some cairns and a light use trail part of the way. The use trail continues up Temptation Peak, ending abruptly below the rocks closer to the summit.
Once at the rocks, there are a couple options. The most straightforward option is to go to the right and get back up on the rocks and then straight up to the summit. It is also an option to go to the left. Both options require exposed Class 3 hiking moves. However, the left side is more exposed than the right side, with less space to put your feet.
The total distance is about two miles and the elevation gain is a little less than 1,400’. However, it might be worthwhile to hike around the Meridian Loop on the way back which would make this about a 6-mile hike.
The loop hike requires more off-trail hiking. This route approaches Temptation Peak from the south and ascends via the primary route described above. It also is described in the South to North route page.
Start by taking the trail that heads north towards Bulldog Saddle. Within about 500 feet from the trailhead, a trail splits off to the right (east). Follow this trail until its terminus at the south end of the mountain. The trail ending is obvious, and so are the heavily placed cairns which lead the trail up towards the ridgeline. That trail ends at a little over 2,700’ and about 1.9 miles.
Once on the ridgeline, leave the trail and the route requires boulder hopping, scrambling and a few down climbs. Exposure is minimal. The terrain very much resembles that of the nearby Pass Mountain ridgeline. After passing to the left of Pt. 3108, there is just one more saddle and a rock climb to the summit of Temptation Peak about three-quarters of a mile of off-trail hiking from the end of the trail.
Descend the other side of Temptation Peak and hike/scramble up to the summit of Pt. 3113 and then down to Bulldog Saddle. You can head back down to the trailhead for a 4 ¾ mile loop, or do the entire Meridian Loop for a total of 6 ¾ miles.
Thanks to Runbyu1 for this description.
There is no red tape for the Meridian Trailhead. Just park and hike.