SOUTH MOUNTAIN

Emergency Action Plan

All pilots planning to fly this site should read the AZHPA General Arizona Safety Precautions and Procedures.

Default radio frequency: 155.505 MHz, DCS 25

South Launch location:

  • Address: Gila Valley Lookout, South Mountain Park and Preserve, Phoenix, AZ 85048

  • GPS coordinates:  33.330808, -112.061153

  • Additional info: Paved road

  • Best route to area: Enter park at S. Central Ave, follow paved roads to Gila Valley                     Lookout by the towers.


North Launch location:

  • Address: South Mountain Park and Preserve, Phoenix, AZ 85048

  • GPS coordinates: 33.328669, -112.087447  

  • Best route to area: Enter Park at 10283 S Central Ave.

   
South LZ location

  • Address: South Mountain Park and Preserve, Phoenix, AZ 85048

  • GPS coordinates: 33.3205, -112.062097

  • Best route to area: S. Desert Foothills Pkwy to E Granite View Dr.


North LZ location

  • Address: Kart Track, South Mountain Park and Preserve, Phoenix, AZ 85048

  • GPS coordinates: 33.338824, -112.091325

  • Best route to area: Enter Park at 10283 S Central Ave.


EMS: 911
Name of EMS service: Maricopa County EMS
Non-emergency number: (602) 273-1411

Hospital:

Address: Chandler Regional Medical Center, 1955 W Frye Rd, Chandler, AZ 85224 (480) 728-3000

Urgent care:  (call to check hours)
Dignity Health Urgent Care Ahwatukee, 4545 E Chandler Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85048 (480) 728-4000
FastMed Urgent Care, 1804 W Elliot Rd, Tempe, AZ 85284 (480) 456-0444
FastMed Urgent Care, 2720 W Baseline Rd #140, Tempe, AZ 85283 (602) 777-6000

Report safety concerns to AZHPA: 

FlyAZHPA@gmail.com

Phoenix SkyHarbor Airspace Chart (SkyVector.com)

Site Description

Location: South Phoenix. South Launch 33.3307°, -112.0611°, South LZ 33.3206°, -112.0621°, North Launch 33.3286°, -112.0875°, North LZ 33.3388°, -112.0913°.


Usage: Hang Gliding and Paragliding.


Season: Allowed usage year round but mid-summer conditions lead most pilots to venture to northern AZ during peak heat months.


Affiliation: Arizona Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. USHPA RRRG insured site.


Land ownership: City of Phoenix Municipal Park. Phoenix Mountains Preserve.


Other use: Open to the public for sightseeing, horseback riding, hiking, bicycling and more. Can be considerably crowded during special events and on weekends.

Silent Sundays: On the fourth Sunday of the month vehicular (motorized) traffic is closed at the main entrance gate. All other Sundays, motorized traffic is closed until 10:00 a.m. Hiking to Launch is the only option during these times.

Access: North launch is drive up, but on most flying days pilots coordinate via the GroupMe app when to stage a car or cars at the saddle (at pull out on the Summit Road, and which is at the top of the Telegraph Pass Trail which can be accessed just to the west of the South LZ). The National Trail which leads to the North Launch can also be accessed from the saddle. Google Maps

South Launch

Orientation: Faces 180 degrees at 2,625' MSL.

Type: Improved, stabilized granite sloping launch.


GPS Coordinates: 33.3307°, -112.0611° Google Maps


Winds: Light surface winds are preferred as this is a thermal site. SSE to SSW 0-15 mph. Typical summer launch window happens between 10 am and 4 pm. Wind is typically too east in morning and then may swing too far west in the afternoon. The north launch may have adequate wind for launching later in the day at certain times throughout the year.


Driving Directions: Take Central Ave. south to the park entrance. Follow the two lane, paved road 7.5 miles to the top, following the signs to "Gila Valley Lookout."


Road Conditions: Two-lane paved road to launch (7 miles). 15 to 25 MPH speed limits (enforced), no passing.


Parking: Marked for up to 30 vehicles.


Facilities: Ranger station just past park entrance.


Set-up Area: East of launch. Please do not set up on launch when more than one other pilot is present.


Hazards: Unmarked power lines to the right of launch sloping down to east side of LZ. Very difficult to see. Locate them before you fly. Communications towers with guy wires behind launch. Spectators will often congregate around launch. A local pilot will brief you on setting up reasonable lines of demarcation and communicate with spectators for pilot and spectator safety.

We strongly recommend not flying over “the bowl” area which has the power lines, cliff and guy wires until you have significant altitude for obvious reasons. Due to the common occurrence of thermals joining as they ascend, sink can be minimal on many days so it is best practice to exit thermals at 4,300' ASL to make sure you have sufficient time to implement proper descent techniques and stay out of restricted airspace. Conditions can change rapidly in the desert. Please be an active pilot. Do not have final glide/approach to Landing Zone over the wash. Clear LZ immediately. Dust Devils are year round here and they show up with no notice or invitation. Pack up immediately.

Desert terrain and weather are extremely unforgiving on unprepared pilots, outdated equipment and pilots not giving extra margin of safety within their operating limitations. Adequate preparation, a sufficient understanding of Desert weather forecasting and local on-site briefing is required. Desert heat can be is oppressive (100°-115° F) May through September. Dehydration is a real possibility, and those not used to hiking in these conditions can succumb to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Desert Terrain and weather are extremely unforgiving. Give yourself an extra margin for error due to the Terrain and weather conditions.

All pilots must read the General Site Guidelines prior to arrival.

North Launch

Orientation: Faces 340 degrees at 2,300' MSL.

Type: Unimproved dirt slope launch. PG and HG friendly. Hike up only.
 

GPS Coordinates: 33.3286°, -112.0875°  Google Maps
 

Winds: NW to NNE 0-18 mph. Can be flown in the evenings when South Launch conditions do not shut down launching.
 

Driving Directions: Follow road to 2.5 mile marker and park at the next pullout. The Ranger Trail is right at the 2.5 mile marker. Very good trail, moderate slope, about 30 minute hike. Follow trail to the ridge top on the east side of ravine. Launch is at trail marker. Hiking from saddle to launch via National Trail (heading west, also about a 30-minute hike). Hiking from North Side: Ranger Trail to National Trail to launch. Approximately 60-minute hike. All hiking times are estimates and dependent on your physical condition.
 

Set-up Area: Directly West of launch. Don't block trail or damage vegetation. Stay within set-up area.
 

Hazards: This launch requires a minimum sustained wind of 7 mph or a solid ability to perform light wind forward launches with a learned experienced feel of the glider. Small sharp rocks and twigs can catch lines on launch. There is limited altitude, so flying toward LZ when not climbing at launch altitude or lower is recommended and could be required due to conditions. Keep site briefing and situational awareness in mind at all times and give extra safety margin due to desert type conditions.


Due to the common occurrence of thermals joining as they ascend, sink can be minimal on many days so it is best practice to exit thermals at 4,300' ASL to make sure you have sufficient time to implement proper descent techniques and stay out of restricted airspace. Conditions can change rapidly in the desert. Please be an active pilot. Do not have final glide/approach to Landing Zone over the wash. Clear LZ immediately. Dust devils are year round here and they show up with no notice or invitation. Pack up immediately.


Desert terrain and weather are extremely unforgiving on unprepared pilots, outdated equipment and pilots not giving extra margin of safety within their operating limitations. Adequate preparation, a sufficient understanding of desert weather forecasting and local on-site briefing is required. Desert heat can be is oppressive (100°-115° F) May through September. Dehydration is a real possibility, and those not used to hiking in these conditions can succumb to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Desert terrain and weather are extremely unforgiving. Give yourself an extra margin for error due to the terrain and weather conditions.


All pilots must read the General Site Guidelines prior to arrival.
 

Flying

Type: Desert thermal conditions. Dust devils are year round. Typical blue thermals, high pressure, sharp edged. It is a rare treat to have consistent ridge soaring conditions at South Mountain. When we do it is usually early morning or at the end of the day and usually in Winter. Stay clear of terrain and avoid "scratching" at all times.

 

Restrictions: Class B airspace starts at 5,000' ASL. Please refer to the "Know Before You Go" section and Phoenix SkyHarbor airspace chart provided on this page.

 

Hazards: 300' radio towers with guy wires, unmarked power lines, lots of air traffic flying under the Class B. See an avoid.
 

Designated Landing Zones

South Side LZ: Straight in front of launch, just before the houses, visible from launch as an obvious small, circular, bare clearing in the desert.
 

GPS Coordinates: 33.3205°, -112.0622°   Google Maps

 

Elevation: 1,430', 436m
 

Directions: Driving: Follow road to 2.5 mile marker and park at the next pull-out on left. The Ranger Trail crosses the road right at the 2.5 mile marker. Hiking from north side to North Launch: Ranger Trail to National Trail to Launch. Follow trail to the ridge top on the east side of ravine. Launch is at second trail marker. Very good trail, moderate slope, about 60 minute hike. Hiking from saddle to launch: Via the National Trail (heading west, about 30 minute hike). Hiking from north side to South Launch: Park at Five Tables or multiple parking areas close to Desert Classic Trail, hike to Telegraph Trail to National Trail to road up to launch (at least 60-minute hike).

 

Driving Directions: From I-10, take Pecos Rd. west to Desert Foothills Dr. Take Desert Foothills north for two miles, turn right on Granite View Dr. Drive to north end of street. Walk along rock wash to the main trail, turn left, go west 200 yards to LZ. Stay off private property and don't loiter in neighborhood longer than necessary.

 

Wind Sock: A white vinyl wind ribbon on a metal pole is located on the eastern edge of the LZ.
 

Conditions: Paved roads in residential area with schools.
 

Hazards: Has slight downhill slope to the south. Paraglider pilots should set up their approach so as to not have final glide/approach over the desert dry wash to the west of the LZ and plan on landing short of the LZ to compensate for the famous South Mountain Pop. Set up short to avoid getting thermal popped and floating close to the houses.Tall saguaro and cholla cactus. Desert terrain. Desert dry wash bordering west side of LZ known to produce sink.

Restrictions: Don't venture off trails.

North Side LZ: Straight in front of launch is the Kart Track. Per our agreement with the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Dept., our approved LZ is to the west of the Kart Track parking lot. Wind indicator should be installed on the edge of the LZ (check on your way up). Do not land in the Kart track parking lot, it is against our agreement and it's a very good thermal generator and has been known to kick strong thermals. A secondary bail out LZ is just to the west of the main LZ and is usable as well. Do not have final approach over the deep wash that is just south of the Kart Track. Valley of the Sun Quarter Midget Association schedule.

GPS Coordinates: 33.3388°, -112.0913°  Google Maps

 

Elevation: 1,496', 456m
 

Directions: You pass the landing zone on the way to launch, a locked gate on the left side of road. Do not park in front of the gate or block the road into the parking lot. Closest parking to the LZ is the "Five Tables" area just to the east.
 

Restrictions: Don't walk off trails. Do not park in, use or land in the Kart Track.

Note: Pilots must familiarize themselves with this information before arriving, and this information does not replace the need for an in-person site briefing from a qualified, local pilot or instructor familiar with the area and experienced in flying the site.

© 2020 by Arizona Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association.

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