Arizona Trail, Day 30 – Anderson Mesa (Passages 31 and 30, Walnut Canyon and Mormon Lake)

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

Welcome back to Aspen’s Tracks, thruhiking the Arizona Trail as part of a 900 mile hike across Utah and Arizona to Mexico.

I’m on the trail by mid morning after unfortunately misplacing a tent stake that costs me some time. No more extra stakes now. I encounter two dayhikers and talk about my time on the trail with them. The trail exits ponderosa forest as it crests Anderson Mesa and then enters PJ scrub with some ponderosa mixed in.

The volcanic rocks from north of the Peaks has returned and covers nearly the entire top of the Mesa – looking at a geologic map of the area, my initial thought of basalt appears to be correct.

Gambel oaks in fall foliage
Arizona Trail, Passage 31 (Walnut Canyon)
Coconino National Forest
Arizona Trail through ponderosas on Anderson Mesa
AZT Passage 31 (Walnut Canyon), Coconino National Forest
Geologic Map of Arizona – South of Flagstaff; pin indicates my rough position at the start of the day, and the remainder traversed through the same geologic region.
Basalt rocks on Anderson Mesa
Arizona Trail Passage 31 (Walnut Canyon), Coconino National Forest

The trail passes numerous small lakes that serve as important waterfowl habitat and are managed as livestock exclosures. I spot a big tarantula – no doubt this time, unlike the one that I saw back on Passage 39 at Grand Canyon – on the trail just south of Marshall Lake where I pass from Passage 31 to Passage 30, Mormon Lake.

Arizona Trail sign entering Passage 30, Mormon Lake
Coconino National Forest
Marshall Lake, one of a number of natural wetlands along the Arizona Trail atop Anderson Mesa
AZT Passage 30, Coconino National Forest
Tarantula crossing Arizona Trail, Passage 30 (Mormon Lake)
Coconino National Forest
Basalt outcrop on Anderson Mesa
Arizona Trail, Passage 30 (Mormon Lake)
Coconino National Forest
Basalt outcrop on Anderson Mesa
Arizona Trail, Passage 30 (Mormon Lake)
Coconino National Forest

The trail reaches Lowell Observatory’s Navy Precision Optical Interferometer (NPOI). The NPOI measures precise relative positions of stars in the sky for the Naval Observatory to use as reference when determining geographic positions of locations on both Earth and in space, as well as for use in timekeeping. Over four football fields long, it uses a six-mirror array directing multiple light beams from a star to a single point, enhancing image detail and separating stars that are so close that even the largest conventional telescopes cannot separate them visually. Near the NPOI is an excellent view of Upper Lake Mary in the valley of Walnut Creek below, after which the trail continues across Anderson Mesa.

After reaching Horse Lake, I make camp for the night. The sky is black as coal and the night is filled with coyotes howling. Hoping to make it to Mormon Lake tomorrow, I decided not to set up the tent tonight to have extra time in the morning. We shall see if that pays off.

Arizona Trail crossing Anderson Mesa through pinyon-juniper scrub
AZT Passage 30 (Mormon Lake), Coconino National Forest
Glimpse of Lowell Observatory’s NPOI through the pinyon-juniper scrub
Arizona Trail, Passage 30, Coconino National Forest

Price Lake along the Arizona Trail
Arizona Trail, Passage 30 (Anderson Mesa)
Coconino National Forest
San Francisco Peaks rise above Price Lake and Anderson Mesa
Arizona Trail, Passage 30 (Anderson Mesa)
Coconino National Forest
San Francisco Peaks from Arizona Trail at Price Lake on Anderson Mesa
Arizona Trail, Passage 30 (Anderson Mesa)
Coconino National Forest
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San Francisco Peaks rising over pinyon/juniper and Lowell Observatory’s NPOI on Anderson Mesa
Arizona Trail, Passage 30 (Anderson Mesa)
Coconino National Forest
Lowell Observatory’s NPOI
Arizona Trail, Passage 30 (Anderson Mesa)
Coconino National Forest
Lowell Observatory’s Navy Performance Optical Interferometer
Arizona Trail, Passage 30 (Anderson Mesa)
Coconino National Forest
Lake Mary valley overlook, Walnut Creek below, Upper Lake Mary at left and Mormon Mountain behind
Coconino National Forest
Wildflowers growing out of basalt on Anderson Mesa
Coconino National Forest
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Arizona Trail milepost on Anderson Mesa
243+ miles down, 558 to go!
Pinyon/juniper landscape on Anderson Mesa in evening along AZT
Arizona Trail, Passage 30 (Anderson Mesa)
Coconino National Forest
Sunset over Horse Thief Lake, Mormon Mountain behind
Arizona Trail, Passage 30 (Anderson Mesa)
Coconino National Forest
Sunset over Horse Thief Lake, Monmon Mountain at left
Arizona Trail, Passage 30 (Anderson Mesa)
Coconino National Forest
Twilight on the Arizona Trail at Horse Thief Lake
Belt of Venus and Umbra rising in sky
AZT Passage 30, Coconino National Forest
Today’s route map

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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.

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.

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 31 (Walnut Canyon)Passage 30: Anderson Mesa
Trail SurfaceDirt singletrack Singletrack. Basalt lava with soil covering.
Length (Mi)18.517.8
SeasonApril-October. Snow can be significant in winter.April-October. Snow can be significant in winter.
Potential Water SourcesWalnut Canyon Visitor Center
Wildlife Water Tank (217.5 SOBO, 571.2 NOBO)
Wildlife Water Tank (220.2 SOBO, 568.5 NOBO)
Marshall Lake & Lower Tank (230.2 SOBO, 558.5 NOBO)
Prime Lake (231.3 SOBO, 557.4 NOBO)
Vail Lake (232.7 SOBO, 556.0 NOBO
Lakeview Campground (mid-May to mid-October; 234.5 SOBO, 554.2 NOBO)
Horse Lake Tank (237.1 SOBO, 551.6 NOBO)
Pine Grove Campground (mid-May to mid-October; 241.3 SOBO, 547.4 NOBO)
Railroad Tank (242.7 SOBO, 545.9 NOBO)
Mayflower Spring (247.8 SOBO, 540.9 NOBO)
TrailheadsNorth: I-40 at Cosnino Road
South: Marshall Lake
North: Marshall Lake
South: Mayflower Spring
Trailhead AccessVehicular access North: Graded dirt road
South: Dirt road
WildernessNoNo
Possible resupply pointsEast Flagstaff
Flagstaff
None
ATA-Rated DifficultyEasy Moderate (rugged trail surface)
Potential campsites (mileages S to N)Various LNT-compatible points throughout; terrain is not a limitation here. However, camping is not allowed on the west end below Fisher Point or within Walnut Canyon National Monument.Various LNT-compatible sites throughout, especially on Mesa top. Basalt can prove challenging in places to find smooth spot. Developed Lakeview Campground and Pine Grove Campground.
Ecosystems TraversedRocky Mountain Montane Conifer WoodlandGreat Basin Conifer Woodland (Marshall Lake Trailhead to descent from Anderson Mesa just north of Lake Mary Road)
Rocky Mountain Montane Conifer Woodland (just north of Lake Mary Road to Mayflower Spring)
Sites of InterestWalnut Canyon National Monument
Fisher Point
Views of San Francisco Peaks & Mormon Mountain
Lowell Observatory’s NPOI (Naval Precision Optical Intterferometer)
Sources: Personal experience, Guthook Guides, ATA Guide to the Arizona Trail
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Great Basin Conifer WoodlandRocky Mountain Montane Conifer Woodland
Common Trees/Shrubs* Arizona alder
* Holly-leaf buckthorn
* Junipers
* Oaks, including Arizona oak, canyon live oak, Emory oak, Gambel oak, scrub-live oak
* Piñon pine
* Red barberry
* Serviceberry
* Silktassels
* Skunkbush
* sugar sumac
* 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



Common herbaceous plants* Buckwheats
* Globemallows
* Lupines
* Penstemons
* Sego-lily
* Wormwood
* 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
Common succulents* beehive cactus
* Claret cup hedgehog cacti
* Golden-flowered agave
* Parry’s agave
* Prickly pear cacti
* Whipple cholla
* Tonto Basin agave
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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Backpacking the Arizona Trail, Day 29 – Flagstaff to Anderson Mesa (Passages 31 & 33, Flagstaff & Walnut Canyon)

Coconino Sandstone walls in upper Walnut Canyon, Coconino National Forest (Arizona Trail Passage 31, Walnut Canyon)

Welcome back to Aspen’s Tracks, thruhiking the Arizona Trail from Utah to Mexico.

After doing a full resupply yesterday to get me through to Pine, where my next box has been shipped, and replacing some gear, including a new pair of boots and new sleeping pad, today started with breakfast with Oscar at Tourist Home, which I wrote about in my last post as one of the best breakfast places in Flagstaff. The weather is going to cool off again in the next few days, dipping down into the 20s overnight.

We encounter Neil Bob, another SOBO thruhiker from Seattle. He’s staying in town the next few days recovering from some IT band soreness. Oscar drops me and my 75(!) lb pack off near the Trailhead and we say goodbye. I hike down the access trail and rejoin the main Arizona Trail, then start south again.

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Arizona Trail hiking through Upper Walnut Canyon
Passage 31, Walnut Canyon
Coconino National Forest
Coconino Sandstone walls in upper Walnut Canyon, view backpacking the AZT
Arizona Trail Passage 31, Walnut Canyon
Coconino National Forest

The trail passes through Walnut Canyon, beneath towering cliffs of Coconino Sandstone tinted gray and pink and highlighted with green ponderosa pines. Finally it climbs out and passes through a reroute in a burn area. It looks like the original trail here has been intentionally covered with logs on at least one end, and the reroute is marked with flags, so I’m guessing the reroute is permanent. Just shy of Marshall Mesa Tank I run out of daylight and stop for the night. Tomorrow will start the trek across Anderson Mesa toward Mormon Lake.

Fall as seen hiking on the slopes of Walnut Canyon
Arizona Trail Passage 31, Walnut Canyon
Coconino National Forest
San Francisco Peaks from Arizona Trail backpacking out of Walnut Canyon
AZT Passage 31, Walnut Canyon
Coconino National Forest
Hiking past Gambel oaks in fall on rim of Walnut Canyon
Arizona Trail Passage 31, Walnut Canyon
Coconino National Forest
Arizona Trail Passage 31, Walnut Canyon
Coconino National Forest
Backpacking past Gambel oaks
Arizona Trail Passage 31, Walnut Canyon
Coconino National Forest
Hiking through Gambel oaks
Arizona Trail Passage 31, Walnut Canyon
Coconino National Forest
Backpacking through Gambel oaks
Arizona Trail Passage 31, Walnut Canyon
Coconino National Forest
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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.

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.

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Passage 31 (Walnut Canyon)Passage 33 (Flagstaff)
Trail SurfaceDirt singletrack Dirt singletrack
Paved (through Flagstaff proper)
Length (Mi)18.515.5
SeasonApril-October. Snow can be significant in winter.April-October. Snow can be significant in winter.
Potential Water SourcesWalnut Canyon Visitor Center
Wildlife Water Tank (217.5 SOBO, 571.2 NOBO)
Wildlife Water Tank (220.2 SOBO, 568.5 NOBO)
Flagstaff
Marshall Mesa Tank (228.2 SOBO, 560.5 NOBO)
TrailheadsNorth: I-40 at Cosnino Road
South: Marshall Lake
North: Schultz Pass
South: Fisher Point
Trailhead AccessVehicular access North: Graded dirt/gravel road
Middle: Paved roads through Flagstaff
South: Foot/bike access
WildernessNoNo
Possible resupply pointsEast Flagstaff
Flagstaff
Flagstaff
ATA-Rated DifficultyEasy Moderate (south end is easier)
Potential campsites (mileages S to N)Various LNT-compatible points throughout; terrain is not a limitation here. However, camping is not allowed on the west end below Fisher Point or within Walnut Canyon National Monument.N/A
Ecosystems TraversedRocky Mountain Montane Conifer WoodlandRocky Mountain Montane Conifer Woodland
Sites of InterestWalnut Canyon National Monument
Fisher Point
Historic Flagstaff
Sources: Personal experience, Guthook Guides, ATA Guide to the Arizona Trail
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Rocky Mountain Montane 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



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
Common succulents
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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Discover Flagstaff – Where to Eat, Stay, Resupply, and Just Have a Good Time in Arizona’s Coolest Mountain Town

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_3180.jpg
Dry Lake Hills and San Francisco Peaks from the Arizona Trail in Buffalo Park, Flagstaff

Ah, a zero day in Flagstaff. Technically this is day 28 on the AZT for me. There are few better places to spend a zero than here, I must say. If you’re not a hiker, fear not. Whether you are a cyclist, roadtripper, or just someone stopping by to check out Flag, this post will help give you an idea of places in town to get supplies and have some good food and drink in one of the best places around to do it.

Flagstaff is not just one of the greatest towns on the Arizona Trail, it is one of the coolest towns in Arizona, period. A lot of people who come through might be wondering, after a substantial trek northbound from Pine or, like me, southbound from the Canyon, where are some of the best places to go in town to resupply and quench that hiker hunger and thirst? After all, the coronavirus pandemic will eventually pass and the day will come when all of us hikers are back on the trail.

The legacy of Route 66 and the railroad are both alive and well in Flagstaff, too, with the former passing directly through downtown and, well, it is hard to go 15 minutes without a train rumbling through as well. Amtrak’s Southwest Chief stops here at around 9:50 every night westbound and 5:41 every morning eastbound. It’s a great way to come out to visit the city, traveling between Chicago and Los Angeles.

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When it comes to resupplies, the local place is Peace Surplus. Peace Surplus has a great variety of gear for almost anything you might need. They’ll repair Darn Tough (https://darntough.com/) socks as well. They also watched my pack while I did some other resupply runs around town and grabbed some food too, which was a big help. Great spot, at least stop by and say hi when you pass through town.

Peace Surplus
14 E Rte 66
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001
https://www.peacesurplus.com/
928-779-4521

The other main gear resupply location is REI on the south side of town. I picked up some gear here as well, they have a super dedicated and friendly staff. Great place to try out gear without purchasing it as well. If you walk into town from the south, it is pretty much right on your route into downtown, too.

REI
323 South Windsor Lane
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001
https://www.rei.com/stores/flagstaff.html
928-213-1914

For those of you who opt for the General Delivery route, shipping resupply packages to yourself through the US Postal Service (USPS), the downtown post office does not accept GD packages. You have to go to the post office on the east side of town. If you haven’t done a long-distance thruhike before, it’s also important to remember to be careful about ordering from places like Amazon and having it delivered General Delivery. Some people have had no issues, but others have had packages returned to sender. In a town like Flagstaff where you can pretty easily find a place to grab some backpacking food or a grocery store, that may not be a big deal. But in smaller trail towns losing a resupply box can cause serious problems. It can help to have a friend or family member that things can be sent to and who can then send them through USPS to you, should the need arise. I didn’t have any issues with General Delivery at this post office, the only thing is making sure you go to the right one.

United States Post Office
2400 Postal Blvd
Flagstaff, AZ 86004

General Delivery Address:

[Name]
General Delivery
2400 Postal Blvd
Flagstaff, AZ 86004

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OK, now, you’ve got your resupply box and any gear you need. Hiker hunger is real. Where are the best places around to get some food and drink after hiking from either Grand Canyon or Pine?

The good news is that Flagstaff has EIGHT breweries and lots of good spots to eat.

When it comes to breakfast, I have two go-to spots. The first is Macy’s European Coffeehouse on Beaver Street. I took a friend here last summer and they said it was the best coffee they had had in the United States. The specialties are the waffles (get them with fruit!) but the smoothies and breakfast sandwiches are also outstanding. The food here has also been highlighted by major national publications like the Washington Post.

Macy’s European Coffeehouse
14 S Beaver Street
Flagstaff, Arizona
http://macyscoffee.net/
928-774-2243

If you’re looking for a filling breakfast burrito, check out my other go-to Flagstaff spots, Tourist Home and MartAnnes Burrito Palace. These places does some of the best and most filling breakfast burritos around, and do it with generous portions.

Tourist Home Cafe
52 S San Francisco Street
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001
https://www.touristhomecafe.com/
928-779-2811

MartAnnes Burrito Palace
112 E Rte 66
Flagstaff, Arizona 86004
http://www.martannes.com
928-773-4701

If you are craving something sweeter, I was impressed with the crepes at Old Town Creperie near Heritage Square in downtown. Took a while to find – it’s not in the building its address says but rather in a side ally attached to the building. The Nutella and banana crepe I had was great, but it was just one of many options to choose from. One of the better crepe locations I’ve tried since Skinny Pancake in Burlington, Vermont.

Old Towne Creperie
120 N Leroux St
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001
http://oldtowncreperie.com/

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For lunch or dinner, I have a few go-to spots. There are EIGHT breweries within city limits, so even I didn’t have time to check them all out, though.

Beaver Street Brewery has good food (we particularly liked the wood fired pizzas and the tacos) and a variety of drinks on a rotating tap. Right across the street from Macys, too, so easy to keep track of that way.

Beaver Street Brewery
11S Beaver St #1
Flagstaff, Arizona 86004
beaverstreetbrewery.com
928-779-0079

Lumberyard is a Flagstaff staple as well. The macaroni I tried here was good and you can’t really go wrong with a Lumberyard beer. Conveniently located just south of Rt 66, a few blocks east of Beaver Street.

Lumberyard Brewing Company
5 S San Francisco St
Flagstaff, Arizona 86004
lumberyardbrewingcompany.com
928-779-2739

Dark Sky Brewing used to be drinks only, but in the evenings they do a pretty good pizza here too. The drinks are definitely the highlight, though. They do trivia and its a super laid back spot. Hard to go wrong with a place that pays testament to Flagstaff’s status as an International Dark Sky city.

Dark Sky Brewing Company
117 N Beaver St A
Flagstaff, Arizona 86004
http://www.darkskybrewing.com
928-440-5151

Hops on Birch is still drinks only, but the ones we tried were good. Along with Dark Sky, it is a favorite of my local friends. They allow any outdoor food to be brought in as well, so it is an easy spot to just grab a quick drink or if you already have some extra food that you are willing to eat and are just looking for a great drink to wash it down with.

Hops On Birch
22 E Birch Ave #2
Flagstaff, Arizona 86004
http://www.hopsonbirch.beer
928-440-5380

Other breweries in town include Mother Road (an other Flagstaff icon), one I haven’t stopped by in town but that I have experienced elsewhere. Their flagship IPA is a bit hoppy for me, but that is more the style than the quality of the beer, which is excellent. Wanderlust is on the east side of town, as Rt 66 heads north to the 89 junction, wrapping around the San Francisco Peaks. In between is Flagstaff Brewing, right on Rte 66 about a block east of Peace Surplus downtown.

Wanderlust Brewing Company
1519 N Main St #102
Flagstaff, 86004
http://www.wanderlustbrewing.com
928-351-7952

Mother Road Brewing Company
7 S Mikes Pike St
Flagstaff, Arizona 86004
motherroadbeer.com
928-774-9139

Flagstaff Brewing Company
15 W Historic Rte 66
Flagstaff, Arizona 86004
flagbrew.com
928-773-1442

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Lastly, of course grocery stores are crucial for any thruhiker or cyclist seeking the simpler resupply option. Fear not, Flagstaff has a ton of options to choose from.

If you take the eastern loop around town through Elden Mountain and Walnut Canyon, as I would encourage if for no other reason than to stop at Walnut Canyon National Monument, then the stores on the east side are going to be your go-to for supplies. There’s a Safeway just off the trail there, easy to access. You can also get a bus or Uber into downtown from the crossing of US-89 and the shopping complex. Not that anyone is particularly keen right now due to coronavirus, but there is also a cinema here if you really want that dose of civilization before plunging back into the wilderness.

On the west side of town, there’s a number of other stores, including another Safeway, Target, Wal Mart, Whole Foods, Basha’s (a local grocery chain), and Sprouts (a local organic grocery chain). Lots of places to choose from to fit your taste and palate, a rare opportunity to do so along the trail.

When you are all filled up for the night, the Grand Canyon International Hostel downtown is a well-known place to stay. Trail angels can also be contacted through the Arizona Trail Association website.

Sprouts Farmers Market
1560 S Riordan Rd
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
928-679-6000

Target
1650 S Milton Rd
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
928-774-3500

Safeway
4910 N US-89
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
928-526-6116

Flagstaff Goodwill
4308 E Rte 66
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
928-556-5101
goodwillaz.org

Basha’s
2700 S Woodlands Village Dr
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
bashas.com
928-774-3882

Safeway
1201 S Plaza Way
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
928-779-3401

Walmart
2750 S Woodlands Village Blvd
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
928-773-1117

Grand Canyon International Hostel
19S San Francisco Street
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001
gandcanyonhostel.com
928-779-9421

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Arizona Trail, Day 23: Flagstaff Zero (Trans-Arizona/Utah Hike Day 30)

Welcome back to Aspen’s Tracks, thruhiking the Arizona Trail from Utah to Mexico. I want to note that this hike was completed before the coronavirus pandemic arrived, but it has left me with quite a bit of time in quarantine to write up my experiences on the trail.

Today is going to be a busy off day. I start it with a stop at Macy’s European Coffeehouse, an awesome breakfast place in downtown Flagstaff. They make particularly great waffles, but given the hiker hunger that all thruhikers suffer from, I add a smoothie and a breakfast sandwich for good measure today. I always make a point to stop here when I’m in Flag. Perhaps tomorrow will be a stop at Tourist Home, another place that came highly recommended to me but which I haven’t made it to yet. Flagstaff is an awesome town, for those who have never been. There are around 8 breweries, including ones like Wanderlust, Dark Sky, Mother Road, and Lumberyard, and loads of good places to eat. Outstanding place for hungry hikers.

After a hearty breakfast, I collect a resupply package and an absentee ballot for the Virginia general election at the post office. Even on the trail, I make a point of partaking in my civic responsibility. From there, it’s on to REI to start the major resupply to get me to Pine, the next major resupply point on the trail. I’ll need to replace my boots, but it turns out that will have to wait until I finish my circuit around to the south side of Flagstaff via Passages 32 and 31. My friend and I have dinner again and I repack for my stripped-down hike around the east side of Flagstaff. I’ll have breakfast in town tomorrow and then head back up to Schultz Pass to start the trek again.

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Yum! Breakfast time at Macy’s European Coffeehouse in Flagstaff