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Bixler Saddle Trail #72, AZ

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197 25 1
Guide 25 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Flagstaff > Williams
3.8 of 5 by 13
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 1.95 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,700 feet
Elevation Gain 909 feet
Accumulated Gain 935 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1-2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.63
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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8  2017-10-07
Bill Williams - Bixler Combo
13  2017-10-07
Bill Williams - Bixler Combo
15  2017-10-07
Bill Williams - Bixler Combo
35  2016-10-05
Williams and the three B's
7  2016-08-07 azbackpackr
6  2016-07-29
Bill Williams Mountain Trail
14  2015-09-20 azbackpackr
21  2015-08-08
Bill Williams Mountain Tour
Page 1,  2,  3
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,812
Trips 4,252 map ( 21,403 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Sep, Oct, Apr
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Winter
Sun  6:11am - 6:38pm
Official Route
5 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Knarly Oaks
by joebartels

Likely In-Season!
2010 Note
Access to the trailhead at Bixler Saddle by vehicle is no longer permitted due to the closure of Forest Road 45 in the 2010 Travel Management Rule. To reach this trailhead now requires hiking the old 45 road for 2.8 miles from the junction of FR 9217E (Old Route 66 - open to vehicles) and FR9223 (closed to vehicles). Alternately you can hike FR9223 (closed) from FR108 (open), which is about half a mile longer but sedan accessible. In addition to the additional hiking miles, the elevation gain between the end of open road and Bixler Saddle is about 1,100 feet.

1.95 mi on trail Bixler Trail #72. Optional 0.85 mi to Bill Williams Summit & Lookout Tower.

The adequate trailhead flaunts eye candy views looking up. Most notably is an alluring lichened outcrop. If you look up and beyond you can see the communication and lookout towers atop the destination. These are only viewable from the trailhead, in a couple steps they go out of view until you summit. Be sure to check out the map before heading out.

As expected describes the first quarter mile best. Things soon change. That big outcrop is passed and more or less conquered in no time. Doing so the forest changes to oaks filled with aspen. Everything appeared healthy but the aspens only seem to have leaves at the top.

Further in the scenery turns to the most incredible oak forest I've seen in Arizona. If you're lucky enough to be here during peak Autumn season you'd probably just melt in extascy. The trail immaculately cuts across the steep mountain slopes in unimaginable terrain. This is an easy hike that would be nearly impossible without the trail. The switchbacks are lazy and designed for backpackers. I spotted out plenty of sweet camp spots at couple of the turns. However, no water is available along the trail and it's too short to backpack.

The first big switchback takes you to a saddle at 1.2 mi, 555ft gain. There is an outcrop here too if you wish to explore. The next 350 ft gain over 0.85 mi takes you over like terrain to the junction with Bill Williams Trail #21. Just before the junction you cross a saddle and switch into a whole new world. The oaks are immediately gone and you've practically entered a rain forest. Huge pines are covered in hobbit moss. It's 0.85mi and a 590 ft gain to the top. The lazy switchbacks give way to gut wrenching switchbacks.

It's all cool, you're fired up, life is good... then in a mere five minutes you come to a (ugh... sigh...)road. It's a half mile to Bill Williams L.O.(Look Out). Not so bad, right. Well if you can over look the POWER lines and enough communication equipment for a small country... I guess(not!).

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2007-08-15 joebartels
  • Kaibab FS PDF Map
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    Kaibab FS PDF Map

Kaibab FS Details

This trail starts at Bixler Saddle, at an elevation of 7,700 feet, on the west side of Bill Williams Mountain. From that point, it climbs through stands of ponderosa pine, Gambel oak, Douglas fir, white fir and aspen to a junction with the Bill Williams Trail at an elevation of 8,740 feet. The trail wanders among some majestic rock formations as it traverses the west slope of Bill Williams Mountain and provides good views of the forested slopes and the broad grasslands to the west and south. There is no water available along the trail but cool summer temperatures make this an enjoyable hike.

Trail Layout: This is a short day hike or it can be combined as a side trip from the Bill Williams Trail. If arrangements are made ahead of time, someone can meet hikers at the Bill Williams or Benham trailheads for a one way trip.

Length: 2.0 miles one-way

Hiking Time: About 2.5 to 3 hours round trip.

Rating: Moderate

Trailhead Location: Bixler Saddle Trailhead is located at 7,700 feet (2415M), just off Bixler Saddle Road.

Recommended Season: Late spring to early fall.

Use Restrictions: No motorized vehicles.

USGS Map(s): Bill Williams Mountain. Since this is a new trail, it will not be shown on most maps.

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 17 deeper Triplog Reviews
Bixler Saddle Trail #72
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Bill Williams - Bixler Combo
After a late start, we were off in search of color.

A welcome almost chilly start of 49 degrees. BWMT gets you breathing deeply almost from the start. Part way up you start seeing spotty areas of yellow aspen. At the intersection with Bixler Saddle Trail we opted to head down through the oaks to the Bixler Mountain saddle.

After a break, we made the 900' climb back to the BWMT. This climb was actually much easier than we though it was going to be. From here, an additional 600' to the summit.

We took a brief break in the Bill Williams Lookout, were Curley and Larry plied their craft.

[ youtube video ]

We skipped the Benham Trail option, in favor of an additional hike elsewhere and headed down.

When we got back to the TH, we skipped the additional hike option and opted to go for food instead.

This was probably the prime weekend for color on this hike.

Mainly Aspen in Prime Yellow, Oaks were past prime in many areas
Bixler Saddle Trail #72
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Bill Williams - Bixler Combo
While most flock to Aspens & Maples for Autumn foliage I enjoy the Oaks too.

Bixler is in need of downed tree removal and a good steel rake for numerous slippery pebble rocks on slanted runs. Nevertheless it flaunts one of the nicest Oak forest in Arizona.

Bill Williams Mountain Trail had more bite ascending than I recall :y: It sports some nice Aspen views but isn't much of a hit with the secret social tourist society. Out of 2-4 groups hiking we were the young guns.

Weather was nice overall. Chilly around 50 degrees on the dark northern side and borderline toasty esque in the open stretches at maybe 70 degrees.

No huge swaths of entire mountsides plastered in color so extreme would have the eastern foliage snobs gasping. Plenty of color for desert dwellers.
Bixler Saddle Trail #72
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Whew, I am wiped out after this one! But it was gorgeous.

I started at the Benham Trail. Hiked up it to the Bill Williams Trail and down that one to the Bixler Saddle Trail turnoff. Then down Bixler to the saddle. Then I slogged back up Bixler and BW, and summited Bill Williams Mountain. Then retraced my steps down the Benham Trail.

Nice day in high summer. A Sunday, so I did see people. A trail runner and a mountain biker on the Benham Trail (both locals who stopped to chat with me) and two hikers on the Bixler Trail. Saw some deer and a fair number of flowers.

My left foot and ankle are aching. Not sure what's up with that.
Bixler Saddle Trail #72
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Up, up, and away. Ryan had to check in on work at the top so I just enjoyed the rest and the views. On the way back down we did an out and back of about .75 mile on the Bixler trail. Liked that trail. Took the short detour to Clover Spring and then looped back to the trailhead. Warm day.
Bixler Saddle Trail #72
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This was my first time up the Bixler Trail, which is the least-used of the trails to the top of Bill Williams Mountain. Because I started late in the day, and because most of the hike was on the access road, which is closed, when I got to the junction of this trail and the Bill Williams Mountain Trail, I turned around. I mainly wanted to hike a trail new to me.

It's a really pretty trail. Great views to the west and south! Looks like lots of off-trail hiking, such as climbing Bixler Mountain, would easily be available from the access road.

If the road was open and if I had a high clearance vehicle I would hike Bixler more often. Nice campsites back in there along the road, too, but since it is closed in summer and is not on their OHV road map, I have to assume they are going to keep it closed.
Bixler Saddle Trail #72
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Bill Williams Mountain Tour
Ray wanted to get in some hiking at Elevation. I came up with this one that starts at 6,900', climbed to 8,700', dropped to 7,800, and then up to the top of Bill Williams at 9,256. Once again, Dave was a 9:45p the night before addition.

The Bill Williams Trail #21 was as I remembered. It climbs like a mutha, right from the gitgo. There's a few spots where it levels off to let you catch you breath, then back up again. There is some large, thick, old growth that is defiantly not JimH approved.
There are not many views at all on this trail through the trees.

First time on the Bixler Saddle Trail #72. This trail does not get much use, but is in great shape. Finally you get some sweet views to the west. There are some cragily rocky peaks that look like some of you rock hounds would enjoy climbing. We went down to the western TH and then turned around and climbed back up the 900' we'd just descended. I like this trail.

Next we made our way to the Bill Williams Peak at 9,256'. We descended a bit to find a place where it might be a bit warmer to eat some lunch and catch some views. Of course this was the first time on the day it decided to rain lightly. We abbreviated our lunch as we all needed to get moving to get warm.

Next it was the Benham Trail #38. Some how we missed the TH up top and ended up joining it partway down the Tower Road. Another trail with good views and in great shape. Also another that does not get much traffic.

The plans next were to follow some back roads to catch up with some more trails to the north. We ended up traversing around some PP and ultimately walk through a nice neighborhood where some of Williams Upper Crust call home.

After passing the City Reservoir, we found some use trails that met up with the City of Williams Link Trail #124. (Looks like it caters to the MTB community)

We took the Buckskinner #130 to check out Clover Spring and then back to the Clover Spring Trail #46 and back to the TH.

Buckskinner/Clover Spring/Williams City trails, would make a nice short loop if you were in the area.

Perfect temps on the day ranging from 61 a couple of times, to 75. We had a bit of light rain and the Gods were Bowling overhead a few times.

Good times, always good conversations, bickering, poking, jabbing with these gents.

Thanks for driving Ray....
Bixler Saddle Trail #72
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Bill Williams Mountain Tour
Today's hike was one Bruce drew up to help me train at higher altitude. Both the starting (6900 feet) and highest (9200 feet) elevations would be new personal highs for me.

This was my first time on Williams Mountain. The trails here are very well maintained, at least those that we hiked on today. The rain from the day before made them nice and soft, but with firm footing. Not many views on the way up, but the views from the top are fabulous.

This route was a fun one. We started out with a 2300 foot ascent to a saddle, dropped down 900 feet to another saddle, then finished the uphill portion with a long ascent to Bill Williams Lookout (Bixler Saddle to Bill Williams L.O.). The uphill portion at this elevation is always a struggle for me, so Bruce and Dave let me set the pace. It was a slow pace with lots of breaks, but it made the hike much more enjoyable for me. Thank you Dave and Bruce!

After a break just below the summit, we headed down the Benham trail. At the end of the Benham Trail, we had to deviate from the plan due to private property boundaries, but even that was fun. We got to see some amazing real estate while following some public roads as we headed around the mountain. After a short off trail section, we passed the city reservoir before reaching Buckskinner park, where we took a final break. We headed off trail once more before finally reaching maintained trails again.

From there it was smoothing sailing back to the TH. This was a very fun hike for me but the great company kicks it up a notch to a great hike. Thanks Bruce and Dave. This was a most enjoyable day!
Bixler Saddle Trail #72
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Wow! :sl: There is no way for me to write this day up in a standard Triplog....Even for a two mile Hike, it would be pages long.... :sweat: If I had never set foot on a Trail on this day, I would have still been exhausted from all of the laughing, OMG!!! So here's something different in a sort of Summary form.... :D

On the fun, but serious side....
Driving through a dense "Fog" of Smoke on I-40 at 6:00 A.M. (From a Prescribed Burn)
Lots of Deer - Small herd next to the Road on the way in, and a Doe with Triplets, on the way out. 8)
Aspen Colors :FG:
Oak Colors :FG:
Perfect Weather
Nice Trail
Cool Rock Outcrop with a shin busting Rock Face.... :o And Killer views.... :DANCE:
Nice Scenic Driving
Good Food
Good Company
Incredible Humor
And all within a day's drive.... :y:

On the fun, and hilarious side....
Turbo Sunrise :whistle:
Discombobulated Coot that came tumbling down the Mountain and landed at my feet...Only to turn and try to use the Road to take off...Only problem was...Joe was in the middle of the Runway with his Tripod.... :sl: I seriously thought there would be a collision, and the look on Joe's face, as he tried to swing his Camera and Tripod around to get a picture, was priceless... :sl: (No pictures were taken in the process of gaping at this MAD DUCK...) :sl:
25 lbs of Camera Gear :o
Dry Grapes
The "Alphabet Sentence/Song"
200 Photos (Mine) on a 1 1/2 mile Hike... :roll:
Guessing which direction your Hiking Partner has gone... :doh:
Beating Cheeks up 800 feet and 2 miles of Trail, with 25 lbs of Camera Gear, because your Hiking Partner guessed wrong.... :o :D
An Orange Pack :D
Scaring the pumpkin out of an innocent Hiker... :sl:
Getting harrassed for getting back to the Car so late... :D
Thick Mental Fog settling in at the I-40/89 Junction. Joe's subtle hints weren't enough, we were halfway to Kingman before the "Light" came on.... :o
Very fast, slightly illegal U-turn in the middle of I-40... :-$
Very interesting, hilarious "Lake"....
Missing Girl Scout Party Spot
Parking in Jerome

For those of you that may not know what a Coot is, check it out here, and click on the Label... It lives in Water and doesn't do well getting airborne. There was no Water anywhere near us, so it was really bizarre and Joe aborted the poor Bird's valiant attempt to "take off".... :sl:

Joe, it was Epic. Thank God it wasn't the kind of Trek with any kind of Mileage or Gain, I'd never made it, with all of the Humor going on, planned and unplanned. By doing the Triplog this way, you may be able to recycle some of those insane one-liners you were throwing at me all day, holy cow!!! :lol: Although..., a Hammer to the Head would have been more appropriate on I-40, instead of the subtle, slightly sarcastic hints that were sailing way over my head... :sl:

I'll join you for a Hike/Photography Session any day. The Entertainment value alone, was worth twice the money spent on Gas.... : app :
Bixler Saddle Trail #72
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We did an out-n-back on the upper portion of Bixler from the top starting down Bill Williams Mtn Trail. Temps on Perkinsville Rd dipped to 33 just as we turned off onto FS 111. There must have been an angel as ten minutes later up the mountain road it was twenty degrees warmer.

I was slowing Pam down taking photos nearly every other step. The two best oak packed switchbacks in Arizona are as good as I remembered. The upper is longer with a couple rock slides. The lower is a dense canopy of oaks. I enjoyed twenty glorious minutes in the oak lightbox.

We took the long way home via Ash Fork. I thought there might be some magnificent wildflower fields. That never panned out but I enjoyed the distant views. Next we opted to drive over Mingus to see if the ravines were being christened by Autumn. The lower cottonwoods are hinting leaf suicide and we did find an elusive field of wildflowers.

Up top I wanted to check out conditions from the hang glider launch area. Since I haven't driven to it in over 15 years I forgot the directions. We made it to Mingus Lake. That seemed all new to me so we turned around. Doh! it was just down the

We continued on through Jerome. Pam treated to linner at the Haunted Hamburger. Tasty, the views are sweet and it was season appropriate for my favorite month of the year.

I'm sure Pam will have the full version with dried grapes, a coot that was a hoot and how she tried to go to Los Angeles on the Hualapai plan. Great day, thanks Pam!
Bixler Saddle Trail #72
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FR45 is closed to motorized traffic. This looks like a long-term closure to me. (Part of the area's new management/restoration plan?) The hike is still doable, you just have to walk an additional 2 miles or so from the FR108/45 junction to the trailhead. So, the distance of the hike nearly doubles (to 9-ish miles) and the extra 4+ miles aren't terribly interesting.

Permit $$

Map Drive
Strictly 4x4

To hike
From Flagstaff head west on I-40. Take exit #157 (Devil Dog) which loops to a stop sign and fork in the road. Take the right fork and head back under I-40. A little over a quarter mile from the stop sign is another fork in the road. Take the left going south and the pavement soon turns to dirt. Now on FR108 follow this to FR45 which isn't easy to miss as it's just before the bridge on the left. If you travel over a mile from where the pavement ends you missed FR45.

As of 2010 you must hike FR45, old directions continued with...

Anyhow FR45 takes you to the trailhead at Bixler Saddle.

I had no problem in 2WD accessing the trailhead. Keep in mind this is coming from somebody that loves to throw it in 4WD too. It is rough road and would seriously change in wet conditions. The road probably changes year to year depending on grading, so it may be much worse in the future.

Best to call Forest Service a day or two ahead of hike. The road is typically open but has been known to close. Probably when they deem it needs to be graded, which probably happens once a year.
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