Backpacking the Arizona Trail, Day 15: Passage 37, Grand Canyon South Rim

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

Unfortunately, I feel like the past few days off have broken my rhythm in terms of mileage. I spent last night with some friends on the South Rim before returning to camp for the night. Unfortunately, it seems I left my wallet at Maswik when I stopped there for dinner. So I’m up early, and head back to pick up my wallet at Maswick. I also grab some more cold weather gear at the Market before returning to the trail. I push through about 6 miles on the day across the Coconino Plateau, hiking across more limestone ridges, rice grass meadows, scrub, and pines with gambel oaks. The trail ultimately passes through an area that seems the subject of a recent prescribed burn shortly before I call it for the night. The oaks aren’t quite the aspens but they are putting on a good show as well. Tonight is going to be a cold one; I set up the tent for the frst time on the trip to combat that. All clothes and electronics are in my sleeping bag tonight. The forecast is for the temperature to go down to 16ºF tonight, but unlike the Kaibab there’s no wind, so here’s hoping it’s a bit more manageable. Fingers crossed.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2722-1.jpg
AZT sign, showing 113 miles to Utah, 688 to Mexico
Arizona Trail, Passage 37 (Grand Canyon South Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2723.jpg
Reentering the ponderosas hiking on the AZT
Arizona Trail, Passage 37 (Grand Canyon South Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2724.jpg
Backpacking past gambel oaks amid ponderosa pines
Arizona Trail, Passage 37 (Grand Canyon South Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2726.jpg
Hiking past Gambel oaks in fall foliage amid ponderosa pines & rice grass
Arizona Trail, Passage 37 (Grand Canyon South Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2727.jpg
Backpacking past Gambel oaks in fall foliage amid ponderosa pines & rice grass
Arizona Trail, Passage 37 (Grand Canyon South Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2728.jpg
Hiking past Gambel oaks in fall foliage amid ponderosa pines & rice grass
Arizona Trail, Passage 37 (Grand Canyon South Rim)
Kaibab National Forest
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2729.jpg
Backpacking past Gambel oaks in fall foliage amid ponderosa pines & rice grass
Arizona Trail, Passage 37 (Grand Canyon South Rim)
Kaibab National Forest

Advertisements

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.

Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Passage 37 (Grand Canyon South Rim)
Trail SurfacePaved
Dirt singletrack
Forest road
Length (Mi)23.5
SeasonApril-November
Potential Water SourcesGrand Canyon Village (99.9 SOBO, 688.8 NOBO)
Tusayan (105.1 SOBO, 683.6 NOBO)
Upper TenX Tank (113.4 SOBO, 675.3 NOBO)
Watson Tank (116.3 SOBO, 672.4 NOBO)
TrailheadsNorth: South Kaibab Trailhead (Yaki Point)
South: Grandview Lookout
Trailhead AccessNorth: Shuttle & foot access
South: Vehicular access (graded dirt road)
WildernessNo
Possible resupply pointsGrand Canyon Village
Tusayan
ATA-Rated DifficultyEasy
Potential campsites (mileages S to N)FR 328 south of Grand Canyon National Park boundary
Area east of Tusayan has numerous options
HazardsHeat – wear a cotton shirt so you can soak it. Synthetics aren’t great in the desert.

Hyponatremia – “drunk on water.” To avoid, ensure adequate salt & electrolyte intake and ensure you eat as well as drink water. Symptoms are almost identical to dehydration, but drinking more makes it worse. Prevention is by far the best solution.

Dehydration
Ecosystems TraversedGreat Basin Conifer Woodland (edge of Grand Canyon)
Rocky Mountain Montane Conifer Woodland (remainder of passage)
Advertisements
Advertisements
Rocky Mountain Montane Conifer Woodland Canyon Edge (Great Basin Conifer Woodland)
Common Trees/Shrubs* Ponderosa Pine
* Southwestern white pine
* Subalpine fir
* White fir
* Rocky Mountain maple
* Bigtooth maple
* Grey alder
* Red birch
* Red osier dogwood
* Cliffbush
* Mallow ninebark
* New Mexican locust
* huckleberry
* bilberries
* Gambel oaks



Pinyon Pine
Juniper
Gambel oaks
Common herbaceous plants* fringed brome
* Geyer’s sedge/elk sedge
* Ross’ sedge
* Bronze sedge/dry land sedge/hillside sedge/hay sedge/Fernald’s hay sedge
* screwleaf muhly
* bluebunch wheatgrass
* Spruce-fir fleabane
* wild strawberry/Virginia strawberry
* Small-flowered woodrush
* mountain sweet Cicely
* bittercress ragwort
* western meadow-rue
* Fendler’s meadow-rue
Rabbitbrush
Stansbury cliffrose
Common succulentsBanana yucca
Claret cup hedgehog cacti
Passage 31 & 33 Ecology (source: Arizona Trail Association AZT Guide & NatureServe). Only California and Texas are more diverse ecologically than Arizona.
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Featured

Backpacking the Amazing Arizona Trail: North Kaibab Trail, Roaring Springs to Ribbon Falls (Day 8 – Passage 38, Grand Canyon Inner Canyon)

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

Continuing to hike down the North Kaibab Trail at Grand Canyon National Park from Roaring Springs, one descends through Bright Angel Canyon, passing the Manzanita Resthouse and Cottonwood Campground while crossing and recrossing Bright Angel Creek. The trail flattens out around Cottonwood, halfway from the North Rim to the Colorado River and Bright Angel Campground. The bridge to Ribbon Falls is out, but I’m able to ford the creek – something that was not possible the last time that I hiked this trail, during the spring runoff. I’m able to identify a trail that leads to the falls and make it over to see them briefly before making it back to the main trail and continuing toward the River.

Continue reading “Backpacking the Amazing Arizona Trail: North Kaibab Trail, Roaring Springs to Ribbon Falls (Day 8 – Passage 38, Grand Canyon Inner Canyon)”

Continuing to hike down the North Kaibab Trail at Grand Canyon National Park from Roaring Springs, one descends through Bright Angel Canyon, passing the Manzanita Resthouse and Cottonwood Campground while crossing and recrossing Bright Angel Creek. The trail flattens out around Cottonwood, halfway from the North Rim to the Colorado River and Bright Angel Campground. The bridge to Ribbon Falls is out, but I’m able to ford the creek – something that was not possible the last time that I hiked this trail, during the spring runoff. I’m able to identify a trail that leads to the falls and make it over to see them briefly before making it back to the main trail and continuing toward the River.

Continue reading “Backpacking the Amazing Arizona Trail: North Kaibab Trail, Roaring Springs to Ribbon Falls (Day 8 – Passage 38, Grand Canyon Inner Canyon)”

Backpacking the Amazing Arizona Trail: Passage 39, Grand Canyon National Park North Rim, Part II (Day 7, Part III)

Day 14 hiking across Utah and Arizona, from Lee’s Ferry to the Mexico border. Hiking across Lindbergh Hill, the Arizona Trail rolls southward through the aspens to AZ-67, then crosses and joins a road following an old power corridor south toward the North Rim through a mix of aspens and pines to reach the Widforss Trailhead.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2528.jpg
Arizona Trail looking toward Lindbergh Hill, Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2529.jpg
Arizona Trail on Lindbergh Hill AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2530.jpg
Backpacking the Arizona Trail, east side of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2531.jpg
Hiking the Arizona Trail, east side of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park

The Arizona Trail almost directly parallels AZ-67, rolling through the hills beside. It crosses the road and follows an old utility corridor down the west side past Thompson Canyon to the Widforss Trailhead past more magnificent aspen foliage. At Widforss, a strange situation arises.

Advertisements
Backpacking the Arizona Trail, east side of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Hiking the Arizona Trail, west side of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Backpacking the Arizona Trail south of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Hiking the Arizona Trail south of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Backpacking the Arizona Trail south of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Advertisements
Hiking the Arizona Trail south of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Backpacking the Arizona Trail south of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Hiking the Arizona Trail south of AZ-67 crossing, Grand Canyon National Park
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Hiking the Arizona Trail south of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Advertisements
Backpacking the Arizona Trail south of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Squirrel in conifer tree, possibly a Kaibab squirrel. Hard to see from this angle whether it has tufted ears or not.
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Hiking the Arizona Trail south of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Backpacking the the Arizona Trail south of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Hiking the Arizona Trail south of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Advertisements
Backpacking the the Arizona Trail south of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Hiking the Arizona Trail south of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Backpacking the the Arizona Trail south of AZ-67 crossing
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park

When I reach the trailhead, I notice that the Widforss Trail is blocked off, which is strange since we had been informed that area was still open and accessible despite the Ikes Fire to the west. An LE ranger approaches me and asks if I’m a thruhiker, and I say yes, that I came from just outside the park. He asks if I saw anything unusual on the trail, and signs of a fire or anything. Apparently someone on the Widforss trail somehow managed to set their tent on fire. How that happened, I can only imagine, but apparently they managed to do it. I mention that I worked on the South Rim and we talk for a while before I press on to the campground, where I encounter Eric and the two thruhikers, Roger and his friend, who I met at the North Rim Country Store yesterday. We talk for a while and then head to the lodge to get something to eat. I’m interested in eating at the restaurant, but it’s going to be a bit of a wait, so I grab some pizza and a beer with them and sit out on the fantastic patio area the lodge has overlooking the canyon.

Hiking past aspens in Harvey Meadow
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Advertisements
Backpacking the Arizona Trail north of the North Kaibab Trailhead
AZT Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon at sunset, south view from Transept Trail toward San Francisco Peaks from Grand Canyon Lodge
Grand Canyon National Park
Moon over Grand Canyon at sunset, south view toward San Francisco Peaks from Grand Canyon Lodge
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon at sunset, south view toward San Francisco Peaks from Grand Canyon Lodge
Grand Canyon National Park

I should say, the North Rim Lodge (or Grand Canyon Lodge, as it is officially known), is my favorite lodge so far in the park system. It blends seamlessly with the natural beauty around it, having been constructed of native stone. It has some of the best food I’ve had at any lodge – superior to that on the South Rim for sure. And it is perched directly on the rim of the canyon, so you can just sit on the patio, grab a drink and soak in the view – which stretches farther than the South Rim vista due to the higher elevation of the Kaibab and the North Rim.

And sitting out there with a couple other thruhikers, talking about our plans for the next day, how we are going to get across the canyon, permits and logistics, and plans for the days beyond, as the sun set over the canyon, is just incredible.

Ultimately, I do get a spot at the restaurant as well. The hostess recognizes my name. Apparently she has been told about me through a mutual friend on the South Rim. She’s also a seasonal ranger; her season just ended at Glen Canyon. She gives me her boyfriend as my waiter, and we talk about hiking, the Arizona Trail, and other long distance trails (I’m already considering the Long Trail) throughout dinner. Shortly thereafter, I experience my second bit of “trail magic” – he shows up at the end of the meal and tells me not to worry about the bill, “I took care of it.” Guess he appreciated me and the conversation I provided. Back to sleep before trying to get a permit for Bright Angel tomorrow to cross the canyon.

Advertisements

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.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements

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.

Advertisements
Advertisements

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 47: 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.

Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Trail SurfaceDirt trail
Length (Mi)24.3
SeasonSpring-fall. No vehicular access to this section December through 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: Grand Canyon National Park boundary
South: Grand Canyon North Rim
Trailhead AccessNorth: Foot access only
South: Vehicular access May 15-November 30 (services close October 15)
WildernessNo
Possible resupply pointsNorth Rim village, including Grand Canyon Lodge and General Store
ATA-Rated DifficultyEasy
Potential campsites (mileages S to N)Campsites within Grand Canyon National Park require permits. Dispersed backcountry camping is allowed November 1-May 14 and requires a permit & Leave No Trace principles. Camping is otherwise restricted to the North Rim Campground and designated backcountry sites (there are no such sites directly on the trail). When the Campground is open, first come first serve hiker/biker sites are available for $15.

Note: As of August 2020 the North Rim Campground is closed and no new backpacking permits are being issued at this time. This includes backcountry sites on both the rim and Inner Canyon sites.
Ecosystems TraversedGreat Basin Subalpine Conifer Forest
Logistics for AZT Passage 39. Sources: Personal experience, Guthook Guides, AZT Guide to the trail
Advertisements
Advertisements
Great Basin Subalpine 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 Ecology (source: Arizona Trail Association AZT Guide). Only California and Texas are more diverse ecologically than Arizona.
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements

Backpacking the Amazing Arizona Trail: Grand Canyon National Park Boundary to Lindbergh Hill (Passage 39, Grand Canyon North Rim)

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

Day 7 on the AZT, and day 14 since departing Lee’s Ferry and crossing through Utah to get to this point.

The North Rim lookout is located near the highest point on the entire Arizona Trail. A historical geographic marker still bearing the Forest Service name (the tower was moved to its current location inside the park in the 1930s) is beside the tower, along with a historic lookout register sign. This particular tower is also notable for a particularly famous lookout – Edward Abbey once staffed it for four years from the late 60s into the 70s. The historic guide to using the “FireFinder” system is still present in the room at the top of the lookout.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2492.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2493.jpg
North Rim Lookout geographic marker
Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2494.jpg
FireFinder instruction guide, originally from Six Rivers National Forest
North Rim lookout tower
Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2495.jpg
Osbourne FireFinder system
North Rim Lookout Tower
Grand Canyon National Park

Climbing to the top of the lookout, one can see the Ikes Fire actively burning to the west. Through the haze, the shadow of Mt Trumbull and other peaks in Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument can be seen.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2496.jpg
West view from North Rim Lookout Tower
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

To the south lies the San Francisco volcanic field, topped by the majestic San Francisco Peaks rising above. I’ll go into it in more detail as I approach them, but for now I’ll note that were it not for the canyon, the Peaks would be the most famous geological feature in Arizona. Humphreys Peak, the highest point, stands at 12,633 feet. The Arizona Trail will reach and wrap directly around their flank on the journey south. The city of Flagstaff lies immediately beyond, at the foot of the mountain on the south side. Through the trees one can make out the rim of the canyon, but the dominant view in the foreground is the aspen foliage mixed with spruce/fir and ponderosa forest. Grand Canyon National Park fills the foreground with aspen foliage mixed with spruce/fir and ponderosa forest. Heading back down the road, I head west on the AZT to the park entrance.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2497.jpg
San Francisco Volcanic Field from the North Rim Lookout Tower. From left to right, O’Leary Peak, the San Francisco Peaks (Humphreys Peak highest), Kendrick Peak, and Red Mountain in Coconino National Forest
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2499-1.jpg
East-South view from North Rim Lookout Tower
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2501.jpg
Aspen meadow below the North Rim Lookout Tower
Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2502.jpg
South/Southwest view from North Rim Lookout Tower
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The trail descends down the old road that led to the fire lookout until it reaches AZ-67 at the North Rim Entrance Station.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2505.jpg
Aspens seen backpacking along Lookout Road east of the North Rim Entrance Station
Arizona Trail Passage 39, Grand Canyon North Rim
Grand Canyon National Park

I check in with the ranger there, who asks if I need anything, but I’m good for now. There was water available for hikers near the station. After some slight confusion about the route leaving that area, I pick up the trail again (purist that I am, after retracing some steps, admittedly) and follow it south.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2507.jpg
Aspens, hiking on Arizona Trail north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2508.jpg
Aspen tunnels, backpacking on the Arizona Trail north of Lindbergh Hill
Grand Canyon North Rim (AZT Passage 39)
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2509.jpg
Arizona Trail, hiking north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2510.jpg
Arizona Trail, backpacking view north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2511.jpg
Arizona Trail, hiking view north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon National Park
Advertisements
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2511.jpg
Aspens on the Arizona Trail, backpacking view north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2512.jpg
Arizona Trail, hiking view north of Lindbergh Hill
Arizona Trail Passage 39, Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2513.jpg
Arizona Trail, backpacking view north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon North Rim

Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2514.jpg
Hiking the Arizona Trail north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon
North Rim
Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2516.jpg
Backpacking the Arizona Trail north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon North Rim

Grand Canyon National Park
Advertisements
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2517.jpg
Hiking the Arizona Trail north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon
North Rim
Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2518.jpg
Backpacking the Arizona Trail north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon North Rim

Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2519.jpg
Hiking the Arizona Trail north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon North Rim

Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2520.jpg
Backpacking the Arizona Trail north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon North Rim

Grand Canyon National Park
Advertisements
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2522.jpg
Hiking the Arizona Trail north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon North Rim

Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2521.jpg
Backpacking the Arizona Trail north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon North Rim
Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2524.jpg
Hiking the Arizona Trail north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon North Rim
Grand Canyon National Park
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_2526.jpg
Backpacking the Arizona Trail north of Lindbergh Hill
AZT Passage 39, Grand Canyon North Rim
Grand Canyon National Park
Advertisements

Advertisements

Backpacking the Arizona Trail, Day 49: Whiterock Mesa, Part III

Departing Polk Spring, the trail continues to provide magnificent views of the northern Mazatzal Mountains and the neighboring Red Hills as it descends to the East Verde River. The trail will pass through both mountain ranges – first the Red Hills, then the Mazatzals. The origin of the name “Mazatzal” is unclear, though one possible meaning is a Nahuatl term meaning “place of the deer.” The Mazatzal Wilderness, which the trail will remain within now until just shy of Strawberry in the central Mazatzals, is about 390 square miles in size. It was one of the original Wilderness Areas designated upon the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964.

Backpacking the Arizona Trail – FR 194 to Pine Spring (Passage 45, Whiterock Mesa)

I got started around 10, heading down Passage 25 toward the East Verde River.
I hike through a gate and enter the Mazatzal Wilderness. Following cairns, the surface alternates between the basalt and more dirt – like walking through a wash. As the trail skirts the rim briefly, a magnificent view of the Mazatzal Mountains and Red Hills opens up to the hiker, then the trail experiences yet another spectacular sunset as it and the backpacker fall off the Mesa to Polk Spring near the East Verde River.

Pink ribbons spread across the bluish/purple sky at sunset

Fossil Springs Wilderness – FR 708

Take a virtual hike through the Fossil Creek Wilderness! Fossil Creek Wilderness is one of the most spectacular areas in Arizona – so much so that permits are required from April 1-October 1. From the Fossil Creek Bridge trailhead, FR 708 begins to climb the wall of Fossil Canyon. A short distance up, the road is gated. Just on the other side is the trailhead for the Waterfall Trail, one of the most popular spots in the wilderness.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Fossil Springs Wilderness – Waterfall Trail

Take a virtual hike through the Fossil Creek Wilderness! Fossil Creek Wilderness is one of the most spectacular areas in Arizona – so much so that permits are required from April 1-October 1. From the Fossil Creek Bridge trailhead, FR 708 begins to climb the wall of Fossil Canyon. A short distance up, the road is gated. Just on the other side is the trailhead for the Waterfall Trail, one of the most popular spots in the wilderness.

Fossil Springs Wilderness – Fossil Springs Trail

Take a virtual hike through the Fossil Creek Wilderness! Fossil Creek Wilderness is one of the most spectacular areas in Arizona – so much so that permits are required from April 1-October 1. The Wilderness has 11,550 acres with 30 species of trees and shrubs and over 100 species of birds. Fossil Creek itself is one of two Wild & Scenic Rivers in Arizona as well, designated by Congress in 2009 after the Fossil Springs Dam was decommissioned by Arizona in 2005. Fossil Springs, the source of the creek, release 30 million gallons of water per day, incredibly prolific for its location in Arizona.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Backpacking the Arizona Trail – Pine Ridge to FR 194 (Passage 26, Whiterock Mesa)

I finally get off around 11:30 & run into Matt and a female friend near East Tank. I’m glad for the company and we walk together for a while. The road condition is terrible – lots of loose basalt – and the going is slow. I finally reach the split to Strawberry and encounter them again, and their friend who picked them up flags me down and brings me a beer. Some more trail magic! I think my biggest challenges are becoming the pack weight and the solitude. I head for a short side trip to Fossil Creek.

Backpacking the Arizona Trail – Pine to Pine Ridge (Passage 25, Whiterock Mesa)

The trail first rolls through the pines and passes Pine Creek (dry) and Bradshaw Tank on its way to the top of Hardscrabble Mesa, which provides an excellent overlook of Oak Spring Canyon, the highlight of the passage, before dropping to the bottom. Like on the Highline, foliage still lingers in the warmer Canyon. I also spot some cool geology in what appears to be dikes in some of the rocks.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Backpacking the Arizona Trail, Day 41, Part II – Highline Trail (Passage 27, Highline)

Having filled up on water and eaten lunch, the trail ascends from Webber Creek and the Geronimo Trailhead toward Milk Ranch Point, jutting out from the Mogollon Rim. This is a much more consistently wooded & shaded stretch that appears to have been spared by the Dude Fire of 1990 and February Fire (2006). It also seems to be wetter here – there are still touches of green in the ferns as the trail ascends. Gamble oaks, maple and ponderosa dominate the trail through this stretch, and the light filtering through the canopy and the leaves is magical.

Backpacking the Arizona Trail, Day 40-41 – Highline Trail (Passage 27, Highline)

The trail continues to roll across the eroded foothills of the Mogollon Rim, the impressive and distinctive southern boundary of the Colorado Plateau, where the elevation jumps around 4000 ft in elevation. The Highline continues to define itself as a diverse landscape where the species of the desert below and the pine forests above mingle.

The Mazatzal Mountains – the next major hurdle once I make it to Pine – loom in the distance as well, and ironwood line the more open stretches of path across the Highline, where the Dude Fire burned the forest in 1990.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Backpacking the Arizona Trail – Highline Trail, Part II (Passage 27, Highline)

The Arizona Trail continues west toward Pine, curving around parts of the Mogollon Rim that reach out, and segments that sit farther back, rolling across the eroded foothills beneath the parapets that’s tower overhead. The diverse plants continue to amaze. How often do you find blue spruce growing next to agave cactus!

Passage 39 (Grand Canyon North Rim)
Trail SurfaceDirt singletrack
Length (Mi)12
SeasonSpring-fall. No vehicular access to this section December-mid May. Feet of snow in winter.
Potential Water SourcesNorth Rim entrance station (66.5 SOBO, 722.2 NOBO)
TrailheadsNorth: Grand Canyon National Park boundary
South: North Kaibab Trailhead, Grand Canyon North Rim
Trailhead AccessNorth: Dirt forest roads in vicinity
South: Vehicular access (paved road, developed trailhead)
WildernessNo, but it can feel like it, especially the northern half.
Possible resupply pointsGrand Canyon North Rim village
ATA-Rated DifficultyEasy to moderate
Potential campsites (mileages S to N)Unless road is closed, camping only permitted in designated spots within park. Hiker-biker sites are available at the North Rim Campground for reduced rates.
Ecosystems TraversedGreat Basin Subalpine Conifer Forest
Permits Required?Yes for camping, not for hiking
HighlightsNorth Rim lookout tower
Aspen foliage in fall
Grand Canyon North Rim
Advertisements
Advertisements
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.
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements