Backpacking the Amazing Arizona Trail, Day 6, Part I: Passage 40, Kaibab Plateau South

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

I’m on the trail early, hiking south toward the northern boundary of Grand Canyon National Park. As I noted in an earlier entry, one of the perils of combining being a seasonal ranger and thruhiking in the offseason (or shoulder seasons) is that one must make oneself available for interviews in sometimes inconvenient times or places. I owe a park a return call at some point today. Based on the tip I received from a nobo hiker yesterday, I hope to have service at the East Rim Overlook about 2 miles south of my campsite last night. Hiking south, the trail passes through even more glorious aspens as well as beautiful subalpine conifer forest on its way to the overlook . Logistics and ecological details follow the photos.

Aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) while hiking the AZT
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine)
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine)
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine)
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) while hiking the AZT
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
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Backpacking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine)
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine)
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking the AZT, Aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine)
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) beside rice grass meadows
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) beside rice grass meadows
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
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Hiking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) beside rice grass meadows
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) beside rice grass meadows
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) beside rice grass meadows
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) beside rice grass meadows
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) beside rice grass meadows
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
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Backpacking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) beside rice grass meadows
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) beside rice grass meadows
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) beside rice grass meadows
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) beside rice grass meadows
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) beside rice grass meadows
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Hiking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) beside rice grass meadows
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest
Backpacking the AZT, aspens in fall colors stand among mixed conifers (spruce, fir, ponderosa pine) beside rice grass meadows
Arizona Trail, Passage 40
Kaibab National Forest

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Backpacking the Amazing Arizona Trail – Pine Mountain (Passage 21), FR 422 to Pigeon Spring Trailhead

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 Arizona Trail, Day 51: Mazatzal Divide (Passage 23), Part II

Disruptive event today, an F-16 that flew over while I was packing. It flew extremely low and around a mountain – possibly North Peak – and made me think very seriously about why that would be allowed over a designated wilderness area. Still, I manage to knock out a few miles to Chilson Spring before dark, with spectacular views of Deadman’s Canyon, the Verde Valley, and the western Mazatzal foothills along the way. The mountains are jagged and rugged and the trail traces steep slopes nearly the whole way across precipitous terrain.

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Backpacking the Arizona Trail, Day 50, Part II: Mazatzal Divide (Passage 23)

It’s here. The Mazatzal Divide represents the heart of the longest stretch of the Arizona Trail within a designated wilderness area. To that end, a reminder on the meaning of wilderness. Under the Wilderness Act of 1964, wilderness is “an area where man is but a visitor and does not remain.” Consequently, motorized access as … Continue reading Backpacking the Arizona Trail, Day 50, Part II: Mazatzal Divide (Passage 23)

Backpacking the Arizona Trail, Day 50: Red Hills, Part II/II

Second day hiking through the Red Hills toward the Mazatzal Mountains. Earning their name through the red rock colors, the Hills also provide hikers with wildflowers and diverse vegetation, in addition to showing the scars of recent wildfires and spectacular views of the range north toward the Mogollon Rim.

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Passage 40 (Kaibab Plateau South)
Trail SurfaceDirt trail
Length (Mi)24.3
SeasonSpring-fall. No vehicular access to this section December-mid May. Feet of snow in winter.
Potential Water SourcesCrane Lake (mi 46.5 SOBO, 742.2 NOBO)
Little Pleasant Valley Tank (mi 48.8 SOBO, 739.9 NOBO)
Wildlife Drinker (mi 56.5 SOBO, 732.2 NOBO)
Dog Lake (mi 56.6 SOBO, 732.1 NOBO)
North Canyon Spring (mi 58.9 SOBO, 729.8 NOBO)
Crystal Spring (mi 59.5 SOBO, 729.2 NOBO)
Sourdough Well (mi 62.1 SOBO, 726.6 NOBO)
Upper North Canyon Creek (mi 63.9 SOBO, 724.9 NOBO)
TrailheadsNorth: Telephone Hill
South: Grand Canyon National Park boundary
Trailhead AccessNorth: Vehicular access via FR 241 off AZ-67
South: Foot access only
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 pointsNorth Rim Country Store & Meadow’s Edge
Accessed via FR 216 at AZT MM 54.6 S/734.1 N
ATA-Rated DifficultyEasy
Potential campsites (mileages S to N)Various
Ecosystems TraversedGreat Basin Subalpine Conifer Forest
Rocky Mountain Montane Conifer Woodland
Logistical details – sources include personal experience, Guthook Guides, ATA Guidebook
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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 39-42 Ecology (source: Arizona Trail Association AZT Guide & NatureServe). Only California and Texas are more diverse ecologically than Arizona.
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