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
Golden aspens decorate the Inner
Basin's Lockett Meadow, below
Flagstaff's snow-capped
San Francisco Peaks.

© Chuck Lawsene

>> 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.

Weatherford Trail
Pines, aspens, meadows, mountains ... the only thing this trail doesn’t have is crowds of people.

By Robert Stieve

It's hard to imagine driving a Model T up the slopes of Fremont Peak, but that's what John Weatherford had in mind in the 1920s when he constructed an eponymous toll road to the upper reaches of the San Francisco Peaks. It was an ambitious undertaking that was ultimately undermined by the Great Depression. Fortunately, he had better luck with his hotel in Flagstaff. Today, the Hotel Weatherford (he liked his name) is still one of the best places to stay, and his toll road, as it turns out, has turned into one of the best trails in Arizona.

The easy-to-follow route, which no longer resembles a road, begins at Schultz Tank and climbs gradually through an open grove of ponderosas to the intersection with the Kachina Trail. When you get there, look around. Although the trail is rated moderate for difficulty, it's rated extreme for beauty. The pines, the aspens, the meadows, the mountains ... no wonder Weatherford chose this route. It looks like something you'd see on the cover of a John Denver album.

Continuing uphill, the trail enters the Kachina Peaks Wilderness. From this point, it's about 4 miles to Doyle Saddle, which is named for Alan Doyle, a hunting guide who had a camp in the peaks in the late 19th century. The saddle makes an ideal turnaround point, but don't rush to get there. The scenery only gets better as you climb toward the sky.

Just past the wilderness boundary, you'll skirt the ridge of a shaded canyon on your right. As you look across to the opposite slope, you'll see a kaleidoscope of greens. The colors of the trees are stunning. And so are the stately aspens you'll encounter along the trail. Sadly, hundreds of reprobates have carved their initials into the trees. Some of the etchings are recent, and some date back decades to the Basque sheepherders who worked the area. If you get an undisciplined urge, remember, you're not a Basque sheepherder. You're a hiker. They were bored. You won't be. Leave the trees alone.

Moving on, the trail becomes a series of gradual switchbacks and the vegetation changes from ponderosas and aspens to alpine species including corkbark fir and Englemann spruce. It's there that you might see bears (not likely), turkeys, blue grouse and Clark's nutcrackers, a type of jay. The best encounter, however, will be made with your ears, not your eyes — listen for the bugling of bull elk this month as they lumber through the woods in search of willing partners.

Wildlife notwithstanding, you'll eventually get to a point where the forest opens up and views of the peaks steal the show. There's one place in particular, just before you make the turn into the final switchback, where you'll want to turn around. "Holy moly" is what you'll whisper.

From there, it's a quick hop to the top. If it isn't stormy, settle in and enjoy the views. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Oak Creek Canyon. And this time of year, the leaves should be changing color, making the Inner Basin even more beautiful than normal. And best of all, it's free. Despite John Weatherford's best-laid plans.

Trail Guideclick to expand

Map of AreaLength: 14.8 miles round-trip (to Doyle Saddle)

Elevation: 8,020 to 11,354 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Directions: From Flagstaff, drive 2 miles north on U.S. Route 180 to Forest Road 420 (Schultz Pass Road). Continue on FR 420 past the end of the pavement for approximately 5.5 miles to the trailhead, which is on the right (south) side of the road. FR 420 is closed in the winter because of snow.

Information: 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.