Hiking Shaw Butte to Abandoned “Cloud 9” Restaurant in Phoenix

Odometer (Legend):  533,559


Odometer (ILX):  125,623


Remember that classic 1985 movie, Goonies?  It’s one of my all-time faves.  I can’t believe it’s 30 years old.


So, there’s a scene in the movie where some kids go hiking around in an abandoned restaurant in search of buried treasure after finding a map in someone’s attic.  Sounds like my kind of adventure, and that’s why I love the movie.


Oh, and I also loved it because of some sweet off-racing scenes with a Jeep Cherokee 4×4.


I get a kick out of “urban exploration.”  One of my most memorable road trips ever was when I hiked around the ghost town of Modena, Utah.  I’ll never forget the feeling of uneasiness as I climbed rickety wooden staircases and wondered if they’d crumble under my weight.  The thrill of discovery, adventure — and sometimes, of getting caught in a place where you shouldn’t be — is fun for me.


A few friends, family members and I (hi, mom!) are planning a 20+ mile Grand Canyon “rim to rim” hike a week from this Friday.  We’re insane, yes.  But, as part of the training for that, I’ve started seeking out local Phoenix-area hikes a couple of times a week in preparation.  My friends Rustin and Wade told me about a 3-miler with a nice 900-or-so foot elevation gain near 7th Avenue & Peoria in north-central Phoenix.  We met up at the trailhead last Wednesday after work and set out with Wade’s dogs, Abi & Jackson, leading the way.  The path was called Shaw Butte:  Trail #306 in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.


According to the “Health” app on my iPhone, we climbed the equivalent of 68 flights of stairs.  I was panting more than the dogs were by the time we reached the summit.  The hike was just what I needed to get my heart rate up, and the views were awesome.


The icing on the cake, though, was getting to wander around the remains of an old restaurant that’s been gone for over 50 years now.  Cloud 9 opened in the early 1960s as a luxury restaurant for the Phoenix elite.  According to one video account, the facility was small and could only accommodate about 30-40 people.  In all my googling, I wasn’t able to find a picture of the building from when it was open for business.  On November 8, 1964, the building burned down.  There are suspicions that the demise of the building may have been related to gang or mob activity, but nobody really knows for sure.

Even when the restaurant was in operation, the road was too rough to be traversed by passenger cars so people were shuttled to the summit by four-wheel-drive vehicles.  Today, the location is part of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve System and it’s not likely it would ever be built up again as a commercial business.

cloud 9 sign

The round-trip hike took us about an hour and a half.  Here we are getting ready at the trailhead.


Wade takes the lead


Now it’s Jackson’s turn.  This is the crumbly road that once led to the restaurant.


Staircase and some old kitchen equipment


This concrete pad is where the tables once would have been.  There were glass windows along the edge.


Abi, Rustin, and Wade as silhouettes on the Cloud 9 patio


It would have been a great view from the restaurant – especially at night.


Taking a break with the pups


Sign along the roadway


Photo op.  Color coordinated – unintentionally (I promise)


Best thing about the Acura ILX?  Huge cupholders that can accommodate gallons of diet soda after a hike.


Now that we’ve worked up an appetite, I’ll do a quick share about a local restaurant that I checked out for the first time over the weekend. This one’s for you, Dave in Seattle!  I know my friend Dave is a BBQ fan so I thought he’d appreciate this.  It’s Honey Bear’s BBQ – family owned and operated since 1986.


I was one of only 5 people in the restaurant at about noon on a Saturday.  Had my share of parking spot choices, and I took an end space as usual.  There wasn’t much traffic on Central Avenue.


Inside view – pretty quiet.


Those are some soft drinks you don’t see very often:  RC Cola, Sunkist, and Hires Root Beer.


“You don’t need no teeth to eat our meat.”  How’s that for a motto?


And here’s that pulled pork sandwich.  Delicious, I’d say.  The only issue was that the meat was so juicy, it soaked through the bun and I ended up having to eat everything with a fork.


And we’re off to cruise down Central on a full belly.


Hope everyone had a great weekend!

18 Responses to “Hiking Shaw Butte to Abandoned “Cloud 9” Restaurant in Phoenix”

  1. Hi Tyson! haha

    That looks like a decent hike! Is The Goonies really 30 years old? That’s an even greater reason for us to get to Astoria this summer or next.

    As for our upcoming hike, your friend David was right when he said “you won’t have enough time to get sore.” But just wait until the day afterward! (sound akin to a witch’s cackle here)

    See you in 10. Hydrate!

    • Just finished a 3-mile run again. Feeling fit, but not feeling ready. I think the heat might be the worst part, right? What time of year was it when you and Todd hiked?

      • Heat should not be a factor. Todd and I went late last summer/early fall and it was 106 degrees (“felt like 120 degrees” per the wall thermometer at Phantom Ranch). If it’s under 100 degrees, which it should be, I will be skipping and dancing along the trail.

  2. The Goonies is basically the best movie of all time!

    • I’m so glad you agree! I’m dying to get up to Oregon soon so I can see some of the movie sights. I’m bound to run into Chester Copperpot, right? Or SLOTH!

  3. I have not seen The Goonies. Is it that good? Maybe I should host a movie party and view it with friends? June 7 will commemorate its 30th anniversary. It was released June 7, 1985. If I see it, can you show me around Oregon next year? I will drive over there for Josh’s 500,000 mile celebration with his TSX. By the way, your ILX has now officially surpassed my 2005 TSX mileage. I have almost 125600 on my odometer.

    • Oh my gosh, GET that movie right away and watch it! It’s a classic! I’m glad I passed you up in mileage. Took me long enough! As we get closer to the big 500 for Josh, we will let you know the game plan. I plan on having my Legend there for sure so we can get pics of the million mile Acuras together.

  4. Looks like a fun hike Tyson! I also love exploring the unknown and seeing places that have been deserted/abandoned. I’ve been to a couple of ghost towns here in Utah and I plan on visiting more! Also my car is at 139,300 miles right now and I eagerly await the time that you pass my car in mileage!

  5. NOT fair that you get to have all the fun! I suppose life is rarely fair. 😉

    • Haha, well, the blog post is my way of sharing the fun! This weekend’s going to be pretty wild too. James and I are taking a GMC Canyon and a Toyota Tacoma on a 13-mile rugged road near Sedona on Saturday. Gonna get a little dirty…

  6. Looks like yet another great trip! Always fun to read the little write ups.

  7. excellent trip as usual. Next time I’m down in AZ we are going there. The other day my wife asked if the BBQ place we went to a few years ago was on one of the cable TV shows? I can’t remember the name now, but maybe you do? Its where we met up with Mark and his wife.

    • I can’t remember where we went with the Bandonis! Now that’s going to bother me until the name comes to me. Eventually it will. Anyway – plenty of good dining around here. Hope you can come back again so we can try a few places. Have a great holiday weekend.

  8. Cherry RC is a must try – very hard to find though

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: