A Scenic Mountain Journey to the Top of Arizona: The Kachina Peaks Wilderness, Flagstaff, AZ

With sweltering heat and high triple digit temperatures in Phoenix, it’s the perfect time to head to up north to get outdoors and experience Arizona’s beautiful and lush high mountain forests and wilderness areas. For a wonderful and scenic day trip and easy hike, take a journey to the top of Arizona by hiking the Kachina Trail, in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness, Flagstaff, Arizona.

A Scenic Mountain Journey to the Top of Arizona: The Kachina Peaks Wilderness, Flagstaff, AZ

Located high up in the San Francisco peaks, sits Arizona’s tallest peak, Mt. Humphreys which rises to an elevation of 12, 643 feet which you can climb to the top of on the Mt. Humphrey’s Trail, one of the most challenging hikes in all of Arizona. However, if you’re up for more of an easier day hike instead, then I highly recommend checking out the beautiful Kachina Trail, which is also located in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness and like the Mt. Humphrey’s Trail, is also located at Arizona’s Snow Bowl Ski Resort and if you’re up for the added adventure, you can take a very scenic sky ride right up to the top of Arizona at elevation, 11,500 feet, for a spectacular and amazing panoramic view of all the surrounding Flagstaff and Kachina Peaks Wilderness area, without having to climb it yourself too!

To get to the Kachina Trail from Phoenix you’ll want to head out of town on I-17 north to Flagstaff. We left Phoenix at 9am on a Saturday morning and arrived in Flagstaff at around 11:30am. The drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff is roughly about 2.5 hours and 148 miles. Once you arrive in Flagstaff, the freeway ends and you will exit onto 89A north. Follow 89A through town till you come to route 180 north Snow Bowl Ski Resort, then make a left. You’ll take route 180 for about another 30 minutes till you reach FR 516 and the turn off for Snow Bowl Ski Resort and turn right. The drive along FR 516 is really beautiful and heavily forested as you quickly wind up in elevation from 7000 feet up to 9000 feet. Be aware though that there is little bit of road construction going but it’s not too bad. You’ll want to just take it slow and be on the lookout for wildlife because we saw a couple of deer off to the right in an open meadow area about midway.

Once you reach the lodge, on your right you will see the sign for the Kachina Trail where you’ll park in the Snow Bowl parking lot. At about 9,200 feet, the trail begins a somewhat level but rocky decent, traversing across the San Francisco Peaks through beautiful Aspens forests, winding through open meadows and offering break throughs here and there for gorgeous vistas of the surrounding Flagstaff area that are absolutely magnificent. We journeyed along on this gorgeous trail, noticing only a slight drop in elevation, about 600 feet. Although the trail is rated “easy” but due to the rocky conditions and the high level of elevation, I would … Read More

Enjoy a Panoramic Tour of Arizona’s Natural Grandeur: Hike the Woodchute Mountain Wilderness, Jerome

With rising temperatures and record breaking heat in the Arizona desert, the summer months are the perfect time for heading up north to higher elevations, 7000ft or higher, where the temperatures are cooler and you can get outdoors again to enjoy more of the natural beauty and diversity that is state of Arizona and its terrain. For a quick and easy summer day trip and a quiet, less crowded, easy-moderate hike with breathtaking panoramic views of Arizona, I recommend hiking the Woodchute Trail, in the Woodchute Mountain Wilderness, near Jerome.

Enjoy a Panoramic Tour of Arizona's Natural Grandeur: Hike the Woodchute Mountain Wilderness, Jerome

Starting out from Phoenix, you’ll want to take I-17 north till you reach the exit for Route 260 West, Cottonwood/ Clarkdale & Jerome. We started out around 8:30 am on a weekday so the traffic and road conditions were pretty good. We noticed there seemed to be a lot of Arizona Highway patrol cars everywhere so be very careful to watch your speed. After a few short stops along the way, we arrived in the small town of Cottonwood at around 10:30am, made a left onto route 89A South, and followed the signs for Jerome. On 89A South, you’ll begin a winding ascent up in elevation from 3000 feet up all the way up to 5000 feet, with some really beautiful views of the surrounding Verde Valley behind you.

We arrived in the historic town of Jerome and after a short break to stretch our legs, we continued on our journey heading south on 89A, now called the “Mingus Mountain Scenic Byway”. With many tight twisting, hairpin curves and a winding ascent up in elevation now from 5000 feet to 7000 feet, the views along the way are absolutely spectacular! This very scenic drive from Jerome to the top of Mingus Mountain is roughly about 8 miles. Once you reach the top you’ll see a sign for “Mingus Recreation Area” off to the left. Turn right, then drive a short ways until you come to FR 106, then take that for about a mile until you come to the Woodchute Trail. The road is all dirt but good and passable for regular vehicles if you take it slow. However, if you have a high clearance 2WD or a 4WD, that’d be better.

After arriving at the trailhead by noon we set out on our hike on the Woodchute Trail. It was a really nice, quiet and serene hike which wound through thick ponderosa pine forest. The elevation ranged from 7000 feet to roughly 7600 feet with only a moderate, gentle climb. The temperature was roughly in the low 80’s with a light breeze to keep you cool. Starting out on the trail we noticed some signs of a burn, though not too bad. What I liked best about this hike was the spectacular panoramic mountain top views it offered. Only a short ways down the trail and off to your right you’ll see the view down below of 89A winding up to the top of Mingus Mountain, but as well, … Read More