The Arizona Trail, Day 4: Central Kaibab Plateau, Part 1 (Trans-Arizona/Utah Hike Day 11)

I ran into Dolly, a former colleague of mine from Grand Canyon, at Jacob Lake this morning after a rather indulgent meal (I admit, I had the ice cream cookie sundae after breakfast. One thing about thruhiking, I know I’ll burn it off in short order.) After a discussion with another couple about my hike over breakfast, Dolly lightens my load for a bit and shortly I’m backpacking south again.

The aspens take center stage today; a glorious display of color across the Kaibab. I’ll let their beauty speak for itself in this part.

Logistics & ecology reports follow the photos from the day.

Hiking through aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking through aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking past aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking through ponderosa & aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking past ponderosa & aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking past ponderosa & aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking through aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking past ponderosa & aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Aspen trees in fall foliage, seen hiking the AZT
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking past aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Aspen trees in fall foliage, seen hiking the AZT
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest

In the land of Arizona
Through desert heat or snow
Winds a trail for folks to follow
From Utah to Old Mexico

It’s the Arizona Trail
A pathway through the great Southwest
A diverse track through wood and stone
Your spirit it will test

Oh, sure you’ll sweat and blister
You’ll feel the miles every day
You’ll shiver at the loneliness
Your feet and seat will pay

But you’ll see moonlight on the borderlands
You’ll see stars on the Mogollon
You’ll feel the warmth of winter sun
And be thrilled straight through to bone

The aches and pains will fade away
You’ll feel renewed and whole
You’ll never be the same again
With Arizona in your soul

Along the Arizona Trail
A reverence and peace you’ll know
Through deserts, canyons, and mountains
From Utah to Old Mexico

“The Arizona Trail,” Dale R Shewalter
Aspen trees in fall foliage, seen backpacking the AZT
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Aspen trees in fall foliage, seen hiking the AZT
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking through aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking past aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking through aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Hiking past aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking past aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking through ponderosa and aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking past ponderosa & aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking through aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking through aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Love trees that appear to be in transition themselves along with the season. This one, with its flaming tip down to green base, illustrates that change well.
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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Backpacking past ponderosa & aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Incredible clouds above aspens along the Arizona Trail
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plaeau)
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking through ponderosa forest past aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking through aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking through aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking past ponderosa & aspen trees in fall foliage
Arizona Trail Passage 41 (Central Kaibab Plateau)
Kaibab National Forest
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To Thruhike or Section Hike, That is the Question

When many individuals are first looking at getting into thruhiking, they face one crucial decision after trail selection – to section hike, or thruhike. Each has different advantages and challenges, and may be better suited for one trail than another. Today, we’re going to discuss these. First, we need to define each. For our purposes, … Continue reading To Thruhike or Section Hike, That is the Question

National Park Quest: Tonto National Monument

Backpacking the Arizona Trail’s Saddle Mountain Passage from near Saddle Mountain to Sycamore Creek at the start of the Pine Mountain passage. More magnificent Arizona mountain views of the central Mazatzal peaks and ridgelines, and a gorgeous Arizona sunset.

Logistics, trail journal, and magnificent mountain scenery.

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Backpacking the Amazing Arizona Trail – Inspiration Point to Roosevelt Cemetery (Passages 20 & 19, Four Peaks to Superstition Mountains)

Backpacking the Arizona Trail’s Saddle Mountain Passage from near Saddle Mountain to Sycamore Creek at the start of the Pine Mountain passage. More magnificent Arizona mountain views of the central Mazatzal peaks and ridgelines, and a gorgeous Arizona sunset.

Logistics, trail journal, and magnificent mountain scenery.

Arizona Trail Backpacking Logistics – AZT Gateway Communities: Tonto Basin

Backpacking the Arizona Trail’s Saddle Mountain Passage from near Saddle Mountain to Sycamore Creek at the start of the Pine Mountain passage. More magnificent Arizona mountain views of the central Mazatzal peaks and ridgelines, and a gorgeous Arizona sunset.

Logistics, trail journal, and magnificent mountain scenery.

Backpacking the Amazing Arizona Trail – Four Peaks South (Passage 20)

Backpacking the Arizona Trail’s Saddle Mountain Passage from near Saddle Mountain to Sycamore Creek at the start of the Pine Mountain passage. More magnificent Arizona mountain views of the central Mazatzal peaks and ridgelines, and a gorgeous Arizona sunset.

Logistics, trail journal, and magnificent mountain scenery.

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Backpacking the Amazing Arizona Trail – Four Peaks North (Passage 20)

Backpacking the Arizona Trail’s Four Peaks Passage to just south of Pigeon Spring. The terrain is incredibly precipitous – in places the trail seems to occupy the only level ground around. Fire impacts are present throughout as well, a legacy of the 1996 Lone Fire. Magnificent views of Roosevelt Lake, the southern Mazatzal foothills, and the Sierra Ancha across Tonto Basin.

Logistics, trail journal, and magnificent mountain scenery.

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Passage 41 (Kaibab Plateau Central)
Trail SurfaceDirt trail
Length (Mi)17.2
SeasonSpring-fall. No vehicular access to this section December-April. Feet of snow in winter.
Potential Water SourcesWildlife Tank (mi 36.9 SOBO, 751.8 NOBO)
Cement Trough (mi 37.3 SOBO, 751.4 NOBO)
TrailheadsNorth: US-89A
South: Telephone Hill
Trailhead AccessVehicular access
WildernessNo, but it can feel like it. Most hikers in the area stick to the national park. Or are passing through to reach routes in the national park.
Possible resupply pointsJacob Lake
ATA-Rated DifficultyEasy
Potential campsites (mileages S to N)Various points throughout; terrain is not a limitation here
Ecosystems TraversedGreat Basin Subalpine Conifer Forest
Rocky Mountain Montane Conifer Woodland
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Great Basin Subalpine Conifer Forest/Rocky Mountain Montane Conifer Forest
Common Trees/Shrubs* Corkbark fir
* Gambel oak
* Quaking aspen
* White fir
* Blue spruce
* Engelmann spruce
* Buckwheats
* Currants
* Dwarf juniper
* Elderberry
* Fendler’s ceanothus
* Greenleaf Manzanita
* New Mexican locust
* Perry’s rabbitbrush
* Raspberry
* smooth sumac
* Snowberry
Common herbaceous plants* Bracken Fern
* Buckwheats
* Cinquefoils
* Columbines
* Fleabane daisies
* Geraniums
* goldeneye
* Goldenrods
* Groundsels
* Hairy golden aster
* Indian paintbrush
* Lotus
* Lupines
* Meadow-rue
* Parry’s bellflower
* Peavine
* Penstemons
* Puccoon
* Pussytoes
* Thistles
* Western & white prairie asters
* Wild strawberry
* Wormwood
* Yarrow
* Yellow hawkweed
Common succulentsPrickly pear, occasionally
Aquatic* Bulrush
* Buttercups
* Rushes
* Sedges
* Water plantains
Passage 23 & 22 Ecology (source: Arizona Trail Association AZT Guide & NatureServe). Only California and Texas are more diverse ecologically than Arizona.
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