If I had not spent a lot of time living, working, and hiking in the southwest prior to this hike I do not think I would have had the respect, and appreciation for the AZT’s environment to really enjoy it, complete it, and walk away satisfied. The Arizona Trail is a wild trail, with a great variety of landscapes, challenges, and surprises. I recommend it to all desert loving thru-hikers, but feel it would be a bad choice for someone’s first thru-hike. It requires a bit of experience with bad or iffy water sources and also with trail that is sometimes scarcely marked. I found it little to nothing in common with the AT and PCT in terms of predictability, trail community, and resources. These are not bad characteristics for a trail, they are the characteristics of an interesting trail. I believe the key to enjoying this thru-hike is to appreciate the vast sections of real wilderness that seperate the “day-hiker-zones” like Saguaro, Mt. Lemmon, The San Franciscos, and the Grand Canyon. I certainly had some rough days, and a fair share of type two fun, but when I got to that Utah/Arizona state line I didn’t want to go home, I wanted more.
Average Mileage: 24.24 miles per day, not including two zeros.
Longest stretch without resupply: 120 miles (Roosevelt Lake to Pine)
Longest Waterless Stretch: ~32 Miles
Most Water Carried: 5.75 L
Total Money Spent: ~$1270 ($500 on travel, ~$300 on trail food, $120 on replacement gear,~$100 on lodging, ~$250 on town splurging)
Wildlife Seen: rattlesnakes: 5, gila monsters: 2, Elk: dozens, deer: dozens, bears: just scat, leprachauns: 3 or 4.
Illegal immigrant/smuggler incidents: 0
Furthest off trail water source used: hmmm…maybe .2 miles, would rather carry extra than hike off trail! We did hitch one way to Jacob Lake for water though and walked 2.4 back to trail, but not without eating pancakes.
Day hikers seen: besides on Mt. Lemmon and in Grand Canyon, very few, maybe a dozen.
Thru-hikers met: After Patagonia, zero, well actually we met two Grand Enchantment Trail hikers around the Gila River.
Coldest temps: around 10 degrees or lower north of the Grand Canyon.
snow: snowed on 5 separate days, but only two were significant.
Favorite Town Stay: Pine, go to THAT Brewery! Good food, beer, and hiker deals.
Most Hospitable Town: Kelvin/Kearny surprisingly.
Favorite Sections: The vast deserts between Mexico and Superior, the second half of the Gila River dry stretch is beautiful, the grassy deserts north of Humphery’s Peak, the grand canyon’s north kaibab trail, the 25 mile hike I did from UT/AZ border through Buckskin Gulch and Paria canyon to 89.
Least favorite sections: Cottonwood creek coming down to Lake roosevelt, unmarked drainage following trail in Tonto NF, Shin bloodening overgrown trails in Tonto NF.