How to Train for the Arizona Trail

Mesquite Trees Below Rocky Hill

Rule #1: Do not start the trail without any training. The Arizona Trail thru-hike will test you in ways you never anticipated, so your physical condition should be the least of your worries. Without proper training, you will succumb to injuries, as well as the possibility of not reaching water sources or food quickly enough. It’s important to get that …

Essential Gear for the Arizona Trail

Northern Arizona Cinder Cones

Now that I’ve finally finished adding photos from the Arizona Trail to my website, I can now focus on other tasks. One such task is this blog post, a list of gear that I found invaluable and/or highly useful on the trail. Note that some links may be affiliate links, but I was not approached by any company to write …

National Trail to San Juan Lookout

Cholla Cactus and Mountains

Distance: 1.7 miles (one way) Difficulty: Easy Best time of year: Fall, Winter, Spring Last hiked: 2016 March At the western end of the South Mountains is the San Juan Lookout. It can be accessed via the road system or a short hike along the National Trail. At the western end of the trail, it peters out into a widening …

Aa Flow Trail

Sunset Above Hiking Trail

Distance: 0.2 miles (one way) Difficutly: Simple Best time of year: Spring, Summer, Fall Last hiked: 2016 February The Aa Flow Trail (not a typo – pronounced: AH-ah) is a quick and easy 0.2 miles round trip. It starts at the same parking area as the Lenox Crater Trailhead, and then weaves through a lava field from one end of …

Kiwanis Trail to Ranger Trail Loop

Barrel Cactus in Desert Mountains

Distance: 4.6 miles Difficulty: Moderate Best time of year: Fall, Winter, Spring Last hiked: 2016 March The Kiwanis Trail has a fair amount of sentimental value for me. Aside from a single road trip just before I moved out west for the first time in 2004, the Kiwanis Trail in South Mountain Park was the first trail I ever went …

Mormon to Geronimo Trail Loop

Geronimo Trail

Distance: 6 miles (loop) Difficulty: Moderate Best time of year: Fall, Winter, Spring Last hiked: 2016 February From the urban confines of Phoenix, the South Mountains don’t look terribly impressive, nor even very inviting. A hike into the mountains, however, reveals a fascinating desert environment with surprising seclusion from the constant roar of city noise. As the country’s largest urban …

Lava Flow Trail

Sunset Crater and Pines

Distance: 1.5 miles Difficulty: Easy Best time of year: Spring, Summer, Fall Last hiked: 2016 February The Lava Flow Trail can be accessed from two different locations. One is a parking area from the main road, another is from the Lenox Crater Trail just to the west. Lava Flow Trail Description Heading over from the Lenox Crater Trail, the walk …

Two Bit Peak

Scottsdale from Phoenix Mountains

Distance: 1.5 miles (one way) Difficulty: Strenuous Best time of year: Fall, Winter, Spring Last hiked: 2016 March Two Bit Peak, formerly known as Peak 2429, is a rugged and adventurous scramble up to outstanding views of the northern Phoenix area. Views stretch out in all directions, rivaled only by nearby Piestawa Peak and Camelback Mountain. The best part is, …

Lenox Crater

Evergreens in Lava Field

Distance: 1.5 miles Difficulty: Moderate Best time of year: Spring, Summer, Fall Last hiked: 2016 February Lenox Crater Trail Description The Lenox Crater Trail starts off along the main road across from its parking area. From there, it immediately begins ascending about 300 feet through a ponderosa pine forest. These grand, majestic trees grow right out of the volcanic lava …

Piestawa Peak

Piestawa Peak Summit

Distance: 1.2 miles (one way) Difficulty: Strenuous Best time of year: Fall, Winter, Spring Last hiked: 2016 March The Piestawa Peak hike is one of the favorites among locals in the Phoenix area. It’s a strenuous and rugged climb up over 1,000 feet in just over a mile. Steep rocky staircases become a regular occurrence on the trail, together with …

How to Successfully Thru-Hike the Arizona Trail

Exploding Meteor over Coconino Rim

The Arizona Trail (AZT) is a rugged, challenging 800+ mile thru-hike that stretches from the border of Mexico to the border of Utah, and is riddled with challenges such as extreme heat, freezing temperatures, snow, blowing sand, lack of water, consistent elevation change, and many stinging and poisonous critters. It also traverses through some of Arizona’s most spectacular landscapes that …

Day 52: Jacob Lake to Stateline Campground

Stars over Northern Kaibab Plateau

The plan (which as we’ve learned means nothing) was to head out from Jacob Lake, then find a scenic spot to camp several miles before the Stateline Campground to get some final views before completing the Arizona Trail. I woke up and was excited to see sunlight coming in through the window. All the weather looked like it had at …

Day 51: North of the Grand Canyon to Jacob Lake (again)

Spruce Trees over Arizona Trail

I thought I was ready for today, but the weather once again threw me a major curveball that would require some pretty amazing trail magic to overcome. I knew today would be rough. The forecast had called for a lot of rain pretty much all day, so when I woke up to snow showers, I wasn’t terribly surprised. I assumed …

Day 50: Jacob Lake to North of Grand Canyon National Park

Rainbow over East Rim Viewpoint

The plan was to hitchhike back to where I left the trail and pick up where I left off. This wound up being much more difficult than I expected it to be, or even than it needed to be. I was up early and well rested and so I said farewell to Josh before heading out on the closed highway …

Day 49: Grand Canyon North Rim to Jacob Lake

Aspen Grove in Snow Storm

My plan for this last remaining stretch of the Arizona Trail was to take it slow and easy. There was one 20 mile day in there, but with hardly any elevation gain anywhere for the remainder of the trail, it would be pretty easy. Except I forgot to account for weather, so today went way off plan. I was up …