Arizona Trail (2021)

The Arizona Trail (AZT) 

The Arizona Trail, one of the nation’s great National Scenic Trails, spans 800 miles from Mexico to Utah. It runs north and south and takes the hiker through numerous ecosystems and terrains including deserts, forests, canyons, and mountains. I will be “thru-hiking” the trail, that is hiking the entire trail in one season. I will commence the 800-mile expedition at the southern border and hike northbound, stopping to resupply at trail towns along the way. The estimated time to complete the trail is seven weeks (50 days).

43Passages

The Arizona Trail is comprised of forty-three chunks known as “passages.” On other trail systems, these are known by different names such as “sections” (PCT) or “segments” (Colorado Trail). Simply put, the trail is broken up and divided into distinguishable parts, which also helps make the hike more manageable.

List of 43 Passages (South to North)

PASSAGE 1: HUACHUCA MOUNTAINS (Miles: 20.8)

PASSAGE 2: CANELO HILLS EAST (Miles: 13.8)

PASSAGE 3: CANELO HILLS WEST (Miles: 16.2)

PASSAGE 4: TEMPORAL GULCH (Miles: 21.8)

PASSAGE 5: SANTA RITA MOUNTAINS (Miles: 13.8)

PASSAGE 6: LAS COLINAS (Miles: 13.1)

PASSAGE 7: LAS CIENEGAS (Miles 12.7)

PASSAGE 8: RINCON VALLEY (Miles 13.9)

PASSAGE 9: RINCON MOUNTAINS (Miles 24.6)

PASSAGE 10: REDINGTON PASS (Miles 13.2)

PASSAGE 11: SANTA CATALINA MOUNTAINS (Miles 18.5)

PASSAGE 11B: PUSCH RIDGE WILDERNESS BYPASS (Miles 21.6)

PASSAGE 12: ORACLE RIDGE (Miles 15.5)

PASSAGE 13: ORACLE (Miles 8.6)

PASSAGE 14: BLACK HILLS (Miles 27.8)

PASSAGE 15: TORTILLA MOUNTAINS (Miles 28.1)

PASSAGE 16: GILA RIVER CANYONS (Miles 26.0)

PASSAGE 17: ALAMO CANYON (Miles 11.7)

PASSAGE 18: REAVIS CANYON (Miles 18.4)

PASSAGE 19: SUPERSTITION WILDERNESS (Miles 29.4)

PASSAGE 20: FOUR PEAKS (Miles 19.0)

PASSAGE 21: PINE MOUNTAIN (Miles 19.3)

PASSAGE 22: SADDLE MOUNTAIN (Miles 16.6)

PASSAGE 23: MAZATZAL DIVIDE (Miles 24.3)

PASSAGE 24: RED HILLS (Miles 10.9)

PASSAGE 25: WHITEROCK MESA (Miles 22.7)

PASSAGE 26: HIGHLINE (Miles 20.2)

PASSAGE 27: BLUE RIDGE (Miles 15.4)

PASSAGE 28: HAPPY JACK (Miles 29.4)

PASSAGE 29: MORMON LAKE (Miles 14.8)

PASSAGE 30: ANDERSON MESA (Miles 17.8)

PASSAGE 31: WALNUT CANYON (Miles 17.9)

PASSAGE 32: ELDEN MOUNTAIN (Miles 14.2)

PASSAGE 33: FLAGSTAFF (Miles 14.8)

PASSAGE 34: SAN FRANCISCO PEAKS (Miles 35.3)

PASSAGE 35: BABBITT RANCH (Miles 24.5)

PASSAGE 36: COCONINO RIM (Miles 18.0)

PASSAGE 37: GRAND CANYON – SOUTH RIM (Miles 22.5)

PASSAGE 38: GRAND CANYON – INNER GORGE (Miles 21.8)

PASSAGE 39: GRAND CANYON – NORTH RIM (Miles 12.0)

PASSAGE 40: KAIBAB PLATEAU SOUTH (Miles 20.7)

PASSAGE 41: KAIBAB PLATEAU CENTRAL (Miles 16.6)

PASSAGE 42: KAIBAB PLATEAU NORTH (Miles 16.4)

PASSAGE 43: BUCKSKIN MOUNTAIN (Miles 10.6)

Gateway Communities

The towns that the trail passes through or near on the Arizona Trail are referred to as “gateway communities.” I will only be stopping at locations that are within four miles of the trail to reduce hitching and off-trail time. The exception to this is Kearny, which is worth the hitch since the town is known to be very “hiker-friendly.” All the little towns have their individual charm, which I enjoy. Summerhaven, for example, is known for the famous Cookie Cabin, a must for hungry hikers!

List of Gateway Communities (South to North)

Map of Arizona Trail

Here is a map of the Arizona Trail. Notice the Mexico-Arizona border at the bottom (southern terminus) and the Utah-Arizona border at the top (northern terminus).

Resupply 

Since the resupply options on the AZT are so numerous, I plan on having only two drops. One resupply box will be delivered to Colossal Cave (Mile 119.0) and the other to Roosevelt Marina (Mile 345.3). Because I will have heavy water carries in the desert, I’ll resupply as frequently as possible to keep my pack weight to a minimum. Food and water add up fast! One liter of water weights approximately two pounds and there will be stretches where I may need to carry up to five liters. As a safety measure, it is my regular practice never to entirely depend on water caches from trail angels; however, I never refuse a fresh swig of H20! My base weight (everything minus food, water, and worn clothing) will be around 12-15 pounds (light but by no means ultralight!). Trail towns (“gateway communities”) allow one the chance to interact with other thru-hikers, throw in a load of laundry, charge electronics, and eat like a horse. Based upon my mileage goals, I will be burning about 7,000 calories per day. As any seasoned hiker will tell you, it is easy to end your day with a caloric deficit if the right kind and amounts of food are not consumed.

All in all, I am optimistic in a successful thru-hike of the AZT and will, as always, make daily goals to break the trail up into manageable parts.

To learn more about the Arizona Trail (AZT):

https://aztrail.org/#:~:text=The%20Arizona%20National%20Scenic%20Trail,Arizona%20from%20Mexico%20to%20Utah.&text=The%20Arizona%20Trail%20Association’s%20mission,unique%20encounter%20with%20the%20land.

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