If a mountain could experience an identity crisis, Piestewa Peak (aka Squaw Peak) would be high risk. Originally named Squaw Peak in the early 1900s, Phoenix’s second highest peak was officially renamed Piestewa Peak in 2008 in honor of Army Spc. Lori Piestewa. She was the first American Indian woman to die in combat while serving in the U.S. military. Legend tells of a handful of other names the mountain went by over the last century.
Nearly a decade later, people are still adjusting to the name change. Some call her Piestewa, and many still default to Squaw. Others cover their bases by referring to the 2,600-footer as Piestewa Squaw Peak.
Signage in the area is confusing too. To find the main trailhead parking area, you need to look for the signs to Piestewa Peak, which direct you north on Squaw Peak Drive. Huh?
In addition to the multiple names over the years, Piestewa Peak seems to possess multiple looks: Leather on her most traveled front (south) face; lace on her shaded (north) backside. Many who hike Piestewa don’t really care what either face looks like. They’re more interested in getting to the top as fast as they can to see what they can see.
Regardless of the mountain’s official name, most who have hiked to the summit agree on one adjective to describe the views from the top: Awesome!
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