The Arizona Trail
Tips for Appalachian
Trail Hikers on the
Date of my hike:
Christmas Break 2002—the week before Christmas.
I hiked the trail with bob, a guy I hiked on the Appalachian
Trail with 40 years ago—Bob was a first-timer, but did pretty
good, even though (like all first-timers) his pack was a bit heavy.
Arizona Trail through the Mazatal wilderness--Strawberry to Sunflower—sixty of
some of the hardest miles of the Arizona Trail, many of these miles are two
- Trailway. The
footpath is much like the Appalachian Trail though
you’ll do more “bush-whacking” on the trail—remember this is a new trail,
and not really finished yet. You’ll
have to have a map and use it often—many junctions are not marked and if
you assume you’ll simply “follow the blazes” you’ll get hopelessly
lost. There are lots of rocks in Arizona,
and virtually everything that grows has thorns. If you make ten miles a day on the AT,
you can probably make a dozen on this trail. If you are a 15er on the AT, this trail
may get you 20—but beware, there are some really tough sections.
- Elevation. Be ready to walk at 5,000-8,000’
elevations and expect to sometimes climb a couple thousand feet in a
morning. This trail is no easy
- Views. Nice—lots
more than the AT, less spectacular than the PCT or CDT.
- Hikers. We saw
exactly none all week
- Snakes & Bears.
They were sleeping, but there were plenty of bear calling cards on the
trail. Mountain lions were still
active, but if they saw us, we didn’t see them.
- Water. In the
summer it is a big problem—in December we had water every 4-6-8 miles, twice a
day—delightfully cold springs.
- Sun. Hey, it is Arizona—every
day. While the temps dropped to the
30’s at night, they rose in the 50’s every day.
- Wildflowers. Even
in late December we saw at least a dozen hardy flowers stubbornly trying
to bloom through the winter,
Sorry—this is not the Appalachian Trail. There are plenty of places to camp, but
- Humidity. This is
sweatband. Bring sunglasses instead.
- Campsites. Many.
- Trail marking.
HA! Forget it. There are some, but this is a new
trail—in some cases hikers used to the Appalachian Trail’s
constant blaze-reassurance, this would be considered a “route” more than a
trail. Take a map and maybe even a
- Temperatures. Get
ready for blazing hot days in the summer—in fact lots of the trail is not
hikable in the summer—but this was a perfect hike for winter… wonderfully
crisp nights and warm-but-not-hot days.
Couldn’t be a better place for a Christmas break g\hike!
- Boots. If you
have weak ankles you might need them—there are places where the trail
would be like walking in the back of a pickup truck fill of baseballs
rolling around. However, if you’ve
never sprained an ankle, and your dry pack is under a dozen pounds,
consider sneakers—I did.
- Blisters. Same rule
as always—keep your feet dry and cool and you can beat them. Expect them in the summer.
- Re-supply. Sure,
but not like the Appalachian Trail. And there is often a ong hitch into
town… remember “out west” to cross a road is not to be near a city—sometimes
the first store is 50 miles away from the road crossing.
- Guidebook. The best help is from Dave
Hick’s website—he’s an experienced thru-hiker and his online guide is better
than most you’d pay for (South-to-north—if you walk south you’ll have to
rewrite the guide backwards) You
can also check on the Arizona Trail
organization that advertises a new guide for actual money—but it wasn’t
in print by the time we left. Don’t
expect a “data book” like the AT or PCT—not yet, remember this trail is
new...it is like hiking the Appalachian Trail in
What does it look like?
Here are two pictures:
Arizona Trail picture #1 --December 2002
Arizona Trail picture #2 --December
Hope you have a great hike!
Keith Drury Trail
name: “Second Wind” ` Email:
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