Every journey begins with a story of discovery.
I have lived in Phoenix my entire life, and I grew up on the northern edge of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, so I have been exploring the Phoenix-area wilderness since I was a young child. Despite that fact, I knew nothing about Mummy Mountain until I picked up a Green Trails map of the Phoenix Mountain Preserves from REI a couple years ago. Amid the detailed trails outlined on the other mountains in the area, Mummy Mountain was a mystery. The map didn’t indicate anything about the location other than its name.
An online search informed me that the mountain was the only summit in the Phoenix Mountains that did not belong to the larger preserve, and was, in fact, owned by the Town of Paradise Valley as a conservation area. Some of this land came from the county, and the rest came from land donations from the wealthier citizens of Paradise Valley. I couldn’t find any official website for the mountain, and outside of a short Wikipedia article and official records of the Mummy Mountain Preserve Trust the most detailed information I could find was on Hike Arizona.
Curious, I decided to explore the mountain by car one Saturday afternoon, in the hopes of perhaps finding a trailhead or some publicly accessible grounds in the preserve. For the most part, this involved driving through the classic, wealthy neighborhoods in Paradise Valley that have been built up around the base of the mountain. The roads here weave up and down the mountain base, and more often than not I found myself having to turn around on steep, narrow neighborhood roads as they morphed seamlessly into someone’s private drive. Usually the only indication of this change was the foreboding signs warning that I was entering private property.
I was about to call it quits on my exploration when I wandered onto the grounds of the Camelback Inn, a posh resort tucked into the side of the mountain. It was by a dumb stroke of luck that I happened to see a little sign along one of the resort roads pointing to a hiking trail. Reminded of the Hike Arizona entry on the mountain, I followed the sign to a back parking lot, and then into a little mock up of a western ghost town. There was no further direction after this point, and seeing hotel staff working in the otherwise deserted theme area, I felt certain that I was going to be asked to leave.
As it was, the trailhead was at the back of the ghost town, behind the stage, and everyone in the area simply ignored me. After feeling increasingly anxious about the unique setting surrounding the trail, I couldn’t help but feel an odd sense of accomplishment as I crossed the little wooden bridge behind the Camelback Inn’s ghost town to the trailhead sign informing me that I had reached Tyner’s Hiking Trail. The path itself was rather short, and not particularly well maintained, but the views of Camelback Mountain from Tyner’s were unreal. I was also quite happy to have the chance to experience Mummy Mountain from outside of the tangle of houses that creep up its sides.
After my little exploration, I went back to reread Hike Arizona’s post on Mummy Mountain to see if there were any other, more accessible trails, but outside of a couple cul-de-sacs that open onto the hillside, there are no public access points (Tyner’s Trail is owned by Camelback Inn), and anyone who hopes to summit the mountain is pretty much on their own, as Tyner’s is the most developed trail on the mountain.