2015 AH Classic Wall CalendarShop the AH Store >>

Our 2015 calendars are now available!

Classic Wall Calendar

CL15 $10.99

Our classic 13-month spiral-bound calendar features 30 full-color photographs and a handy map of Arizona on the back.

Order Now >>
Purchase Camping GuideShop the AH Store >>

Featured Book

Arizona Highways
Camping Guide

AGCS3 $22.95

Our newest book, which includes Arizona Highways iconic photography and maps, is sorted by region and is written for car-campers and families. Detailed information about accessibilty, amenities and fees is included for each campground.

Order Now >>
2011 AH Wildlife CalendarSee Selection of Images >>

Featured Prints

Poster Prints
Special Edition Prints

Many of the extraordinary images found in our award-winning magazine, scenic coffee-table books and exquisite calendars can be purchased as fine posters and prints.

Order Now >>
Shop the AH Store >>

Featured Gift Item

Centennial Issue Reprint

SPCENN2 $4.99

If you missed our February 100-page Centennial Issue on newsstands earlier this year, here's your second chance to get a copy of this special collector's edition of Arizona Highways magazine..

Order Now >>

  • print page
  • Tell a Friend
  • Post to Facebook
  • YouTube
  • past to del.icio.us
BULLEThiking archive
Scenic Drives Archive Photo
Fern, aspen and pine groves line the
San Francisco Peaks segment of the
Arizona Trail

© Robert Stieve

>> Click on image to view
it larger in a separate window.

Editor's Note click to expand
Arizona Hiking Guide BookFrom "backyard"
hikes to overnight
excursions, our
Arizona Hiking
guidebook has
for everyone.
To order, call
or click here.

Arizona Trail
Of all the routes along the Arizona Trail, segment No. 34 in the San Francisco Peaks is the best bet for summer.

By Robert Stieve

"Few are altogether deaf to the preaching of pine trees. Their sermons on the mountains go to our hearts; and if people in general could be got into the woods, even for once, to hear the trees speak for themselves, all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish."

John Muir, the renowned conservationist who wrote those words in January 1896, had strong convictions about the persuasive nature of Mother Nature. Although he never set foot on the San Francisco Peaks segment of the Arizona Trail — it wasn't even conceived until a century after his quote — he would have loved it for its accessibility. After all, the more people you can get into the woods the better, and this trail makes it easy. If you can walk across the street, you can handle this hike. Put it on your list, and when you go, listen to the pine trees. The aspens and the ferns might have something to say, as well.

The San Francisco Peaks segment of the Arizona Trail is segment No. 34 — there are 43 segments in all that make up the 819-mile trail. If you were to hike the entire Peaks segment from Schultz Pass to Cedar Ranch, you'd wrack up 32.3 miles. Every mile is worthwhile, but this month's hike covers only a segment of the segment, from Aspen Corner to Forest Road 418.

The trail begins at Aspen Corner, about three-quarters of the way up Snowbowl Road. For the first 10 or 15 minutes, the trail winds through a lush forest of pines and aspens. That's what the majority of the hike is like, but one of the exceptions comes before you even work up a sweat. About a quarter-mile in, the trail goes from the woods to a vast meadow, beyond which are some classic views of the San Francisco Peaks. On most hikes in Arizona, the mountains take center stage. They're a big part of this trail, too, but it's the greens of the grasses and the ferns and the aspen leaves and Muir's pine trees that stand out most.

Back in the woods, the terrain and the elevation remain constant. And so does the scenic beauty. It goes from gorgeous to gorgeous to gorgeous. Everywhere you look you're going to see something you want in your camera, including a gnarly old ponderosa about halfway in that ranks as one of the oldest and largest pine trees on the trail. If you're going to heed Muir's advice, this is the tree to listen to.

From there, the trail continues to the turnaround point at FR 418. Although this trail is rated easy, it still requires 15 miles of hiking at an elevation of around 9,000 feet. You'll be worn out by the time you get back, but if you were paying attention along the way, you'll have grown more than just tired. On this trail in particular, it seems unlikely that John Muir could have been wrong.

Trail Guideclick to expand

Map of Area
Length: 15 miles round-trip

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation: 8,800 to 9,000 feet

Directions: From Flagstaff, drive north on U.S. Route 180 for 7 miles to Forest Road 516 (Snowbowl Road), turn right and continue another 7 miles to the parking area.

Vehicle Requirements: Accessible to all vehicles

USGS Map: Humphreys Peak

Information: Peaks Ranger District, 928-526-0866 or www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino

Leave No Trace Ethics:
  • Plan ahead and be prepared.
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  • Dispose of waste properly and pack out your trash.
  • Leave what you find.
  • Respect wildlife and minimize impact.
  • Be considerate of others.
  • >> Back to Hiking Archive

    Story ArchivesFind previously published stories online... [more]

    Global SnapshotsSend us a photo of you or someone you know posing with Arizona Highways. We'll post it on our website. It's that simple... [more]

    Photo of the DaySend us a photo of you or someone you know posing with Arizona Highways. We'll post it on our website. It's that simple... [more]


    Social MediaJoin our Facebook, Twitter and Flickr communities for behind-the-scenes glimpses at Arizona Highways... [more]

    Events & PromotionsEscape, experience and explore Arizona, one event at a time... [more]

    Best of AZ50 of our favorite things around the state, including photography, nature, dining, adventure, lodging... [more]

    site map  |  terms of use  |  privacy policy  |  corporate sales  |  about us  |  contact us

    Arizona Highways Television AZ Dept. of Transportation AZ Dept. of Public Safety Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

    © Copyright 2014 Arizona Department of Transportation, State of Arizona. All rights reserved. Reproduction in part or whole without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. The images on this Web site are copyrighted, digitally watermarked and registered with the Digimarc tracking system. All rights reserved. Copying and downloading images from this site are strictly prohibited.