Light Benchmark is one of the more accessible summits in the White Tank Mountains, but few ever reach the summit. It is south of the higher, and more popular, Radio Summit 4,018’ and Barry Goldwater Peak 4,083’. Light Benchmark doesn’t have a trail for the final 550’, so most people don’t go up to the top. They pass by on Tower Road, which tracks up the west side of the mountain. Light Benchmark is recognizable for the 1,700’ drop off from its lower summit. The steepness of its South face is pretty impressive. Hikers could attempt this, but are probably way safer approaching the summit from the high point on Tower Road. Light Benchmark has also been referred to as Cat Hill.
Light Benchmark from the South
The primary trailhead is Verrado Lost Creek Trail to the southeast. With a prominence of 611’, Light Benchmark enjoys wonderful views of the surrounding mountains, as well as the Phoenix valley and the valleys and mountains to the west. Light Benchmark is best hiked between November and March. Avoid hiking above 70 degrees, since the final stretch of the hike is off-trail. It is higher up, so most likely you are fine if it is 75 degrees in the valley. However, just be cautious about when you attempt to hike here.
Light Benchmark is located northwest of Verrado. The easiest starting point in the Lost Creek Trailhead. This is located off Verrado Parkway by taking W. Lost Creek Drive to the end, past the golf courses.
From the Lost Creek trailhead, follow the road for about 300 yards, and then head north on the road, which you will follow for the next 4 1/4 miles. At about 3 ½ miles from the trailhead, the road turns to the right past an old mine, and gets to the base of the steep road. Caterpillar used to test its vehicles up this steep road, and we saw a couple up them up there, so they still might use the road for that purpose. The road gains 800’ in less than three-quarters of a mile until it tops out at about 3,120’ at a gate.
Group walking the road towards Light Benchmark Walking up the road to Light Benchmark Steep road hike
From where the road tops out, head straight up to the mountainside towards some electrical poles. Not far up the slope is an old overgrown road. It’s hard to make out, but the old road switchbacks up the mountainside to within about 150’ below the ridgetop. Some light scrambling/steep walking gets you the rest of the way to the ridgetop. The road is barely recognizable as a road, unless you are on it. There are plants and brush and cactus grown on it, but it does represent the path of least resistance. Even if you don't use the road, there is enough open area to get up to the ridge without too much trouble. From the ridgetop at about 3,550', it is an easy walk of about 250 yards and 120’ or so to the summit. The total hiking distance is about 4.85 miles according to my GPS, gaining 2,370’ on the way up.
There is no specific red tape. The Lost Creek Trail is generally open without any restrictions.