South Mountain (Mount Suppoa)

South Mountain (Mount Suppoa)

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 33.33354°N / 112.06329°W
Additional Information County: Maricopa
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 2700 ft / 823 m
Sign the Climber's Log


South Mountain is a peak located in the vicinity of Phoenix, Arizona. Although general sources consider Camelback Mountain as the highest point in Phoenix, South Mountain might actually be higher by up to 5' of elevation. Officially, the mountain has an elevation ranging between 2700' elevation and 2710' elevation, because of a 10-foot closed-contour for the summit area. Some credible sources even conclude the elevation as ranging between 2705' elevation and 2708' elevation, both of which would be taller than Camelback Mountain. But many sources, even so-called "official" sources, incorrectly use a 20-foot closed-contour for the summit area, causing their documentation to show as low as 2690' elevation.
South Mountain (Mount Suppoa)South Mountain (Mount Suppoa)

The elevation of South Mountain might be a moot point. Many (at least 20) communications towers fill the summit area, and public access is not allowed. The highest driveable location is Gila Valley Lookout, the endpoint of the public-access Summit Road, at approximately 2670' elevation. The highest location reached by an established trail is Dobbins Lookout, north of the summit area, at 2330' elevation. So although South Mountain might be higher than Camelback Mountain, it is not the highest accessible location in Phoenix.
South Mountain SummitCommunications Towers On Summit

South Mountain does have one important peakbagging advantage over Camelback Mountain. With 1510' elevation of prominence, South Mountain has nearly 200' more prominence than Camelback Mountain (which has 1334' of prominence) and nearly 350' more prominence than Squaw Peak (which has 1176' of prominence). This makes South Mountain the most prominent location in Phoenix and the surrounding vicinity. South Mountain is also the highest driveable location in Phoenix and its surrounding vicinity.
South Mountain (Mount Suppoa)Looking At Steep Upper North Slope

South Mountain is known by several other names. One name used by locals is TV Tower Peak, due to the many communications towers at the summit which can be seen from many miles away. Two other names, used by local American Indian tribes, is Mount Suppoa or Mount Suappoa. The local Pima (or Akimel O'odham) tribes and Apache tribes long considered the mountain a sacred place. Ancient petroglyphs can still be found throughout the slopes of South Mountain. Most notably, petroglyphs can be seen along the Holbert Trail, Telegraph Pass Trail, and Judith Tunell Accessible Trail. Some old ruins leftover from both American Indians and settlers can also be seen on the mountain slopes.
Old Ruins On South MountainOld Stone Ruins Seen On South Mountain

South Mountain might, arguably, have the best views of Phoenix and its vicinity of any location in the region. There are several major viewpoints on the higher slopes of the mountain. Most notably, Dobbins Lookout provides the most vast northern views from the mountain. Dobbins Lookout is one of the most popular places on the mountain, being the highest point reached by trail and one of the highest points reached by the Summit Road. Dobbins Lookout has a stone resthouse which was first built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s, a brass plaque displaying many distant features seen from the lookout site, and picnic tables. The Holbert Trail is accessible from this location.
Dobbins LookoutStone Resthouse At Dobbins Lookout

Another good viewpoint location is Gila Valley Lookout, the highest point of the Summit Road, which has spectacular views looking west at the Sierra Estrellas mountain range, east at the Superstition Mountains range, and south. Another good viewpoint is Buena Vista Lookout which, like Dobbins Lookout, has good views to the north (although not as expansive as Dobbins Lookout). The National Trail is accessible from this location, leading to Fat Man's Pass and Hidden Valley.
Dobbins Lookout ViewNorthern View From Dobbins Lookout

South Mountain Park

South Mountain is located within a park of the same name. South Mountain Park was originally created in 1924, when the city of Phoenix purchased the land from President Calvin Coolidge and briefly named the park Phoenix Mountain Park. In fact, at nearly 17,000 acres, South Mountain Park is the largest city park in the United States and possibly the world. Unlike a typical city park, South Mountain Park is actually a desert mountain preserve.
South Mountain Park SignNorth Entrance Of South Mountain Park

To maintain ecological preservation, but while allowing public access, a vast trail system has been integrated into the park. There are currently approximately 58 miles of trails in South Mountain Park, ranging in difficulty from moderate-to-difficult and ranging in (one-way) length from one mile-to-14 miles. In addition to hiking, South Mountain is also a very popular place for equestrian use, bicycling, picnicking, birdwatching, and scenic drives. At least two other named highpoints (Goat Hill, Maricopa Peak) can be found within South Mountain Park.
Holbert TrailHolbert Trail, As Seen From Dobbins Lookout

Access to South Mountain and South Mountain Park is free. However, due to the popularity of non-motorized recreational use on the mountain, the park has established Silent Sunday for the fourth Sunday of each month. During Silent Sundays, all of the roads within South Mountain Park that originate from Central Avenue are closed to motorized use (although other roads within the park area remain open). The Civilian Conservation Corps created much of the park infrastructure, including the Summit Road, several lookouts, and multiple trail systems.
Gila Valley Lookout ViewWestern View From Gila Valley Lookout

Getting There

Directions to the main (north side) entrance to South Mountain and South Mountain Park:

1) Head south on I-17.
2) Take the exit for 7th Avenue/Central Avenue. Stay on Frontage Road to get onto Central Avenue.
3) Turn right to head south on Central Avenue.
4) Central Avenue ends a couple of miles away, at the north entrance to South Mountain Park. The road then turns into the Summit Road.

1) Head east on I-10.
2) Take the exit for 7th Avenue.
3) Head south to Baseline Road.
4) Turn east onto Baseline Road.
5) Turn right (south) onto Central Avenue.
6) Central Avenue ends at the north entrance to South Mountain Park. The road then turns into the Summit Road.

1) Head west on I-10.
2) Take the exit for 32nd Street.
3) Turn south onto 32nd Street.
4) Turn right (west) onto Baseline Road.
5) Turn left (south) onto Central Avenue.
6) Central Avenue ends at the north entrance to South Mountain Park. The road then turns into the Summit Road.

From the main entrance for South Mountain Park (turnoff for the South Mountain Environmental Education Center), the driving distance to Dobbins Lookout is 5.0 miles and the distance to Gila Valley Lookout is 7.5 miles.

Red Tape

South Mountain and South Mountain Park are accessible every day, all year. However, the mountain roads originating at Central Avenue are closed to motorized traffic on the fourth Sunday of every month, called Silent Sunday.

There are no fees for entering South Mountain Park, hiking any of the mountain trails, or driving any of the mountain roads.

South Mountain Park is considered a day-use park, only.


No camping is allowed on South Mountain.

External Links

The official website for South Mountain Park is found here.

A website describing specific trails of South Mountain is found here.