Mount Union is the highest point of the Bradshaw Mountains, a major range that sits nearly dead-center in the state, east of Prescott and visible from Phoenix. The Bradshaws were the first mountains to be exploited for mineral riches, and gave birth to the city of Prescott, back when the territory was part of New Mexico.
An ascent of Mount Union is very easy. Good roads come within a mile of the peak, and most passenger cars can handle these roads in dry conditions. There are quite a few residents who live in the forest near the mountain.
The peak gets its name from Union sympathizers during the Civil War. A nearby peak, Mount Davis 7,900', had been named in honor of the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis. Both sides had men working the mines to support the Union or Confederate causes. Mount Union can easily be combined with Mount Davis.
Mount Union is the highest point in Yavapai County and its proximity to population and good roads make it fairly popular. There is a lookout tower that is sometimes open, but during 2020 has been closed due to the pandemic.
(Primary photo by Dennis Poulin)
There are a handful of ways to get close to the peak.
For Phoenix hikers looking to double Davis and Union -
From Crown King: First, get to Crown King, via Interstate-17 at the Bumble Bee Exit, then west 26 miles to Crown King. Catch FR-52 and follow it north for 25 miles to its intersection with FR-261. In 2003, this road was rough but manageable. In 2011, there were sections of this road that were extremely rough, and fit only for Jeeps. I suspect the Forest Service is not actively maintaining these roads.
This dirt road was built in the 1860s to connect Prescott, then the Arizona territorial capital, to the small but growing city of Phoenix. Today, it is "maintained" by the Prescott National Forest, where is is designated Forest Road 52. Its termini are in Prescott south of Gurley Street, and at Interstate-17 at the Bumble Bee Exit, about 65 miles in all.
Scott Surgent and his wife drove it from Bumble Bee through Crown King to Prescott in January 2003. They drove his stock 2001 Nissan Frontier. He had it in 4-wheel drive most of the way, but recalled the road being "decent". In 2011, he drove part of this road again, about five miles out of Crown King to Hopper Saddle near Horse Mountain. This section of road was in abysmal shape. Here is his trip report on that adventure.
Here is a detailed description from AllTrails.com.
Contact the Bradshaw Ranger District in Prescott at 520-443-8000 for the latest information.
Forest Service Map: Prescott National Forest.
Topo Map: Groom Creek.
The peak can be climbed all year. Summers are pleasant, but prone to thunderstorms. Winter "ascents" are possible, if the roads have been plowed open. The Bradshaws get a fair amount of snow, and some of these roads may be closed for days or weeks at a time. Ideally, spring and fall months are the best times to hike here. Fall colors come in October.
There are several developed campgrounds in the Bradshaw Mountains. Options include the Upper and Lower Wolf Creek Campgrounds, and the Lynx Lake Campground. You may also free-camp, but beware that the forest around Mount Union is "developed", including many private lots. You might have better options farther south, or off of the main roads onto the lesser roads.