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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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

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.

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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.

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 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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