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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

North Canyon Trail #4, AZ

Guide 17 Triplogs  0 Topics
  4.2 of 5 
no permit
193 17 0
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 7.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,102 feet
Elevation Gain 2,616 feet
Avg Time One Way 3-4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 16.22
Interest Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
3  2021-04-25 friendofThunderg
8  2020-11-02 chumley
14  2020-10-29
East North South Loop
9  2020-07-29
East Rim Trail #7
12  2020-07-27 friendofThunderg
6  2020-06-06 jawilder
4  2019-09-01 ShatteredArm
15  2018-08-05
East Rim - North Canyon Loop
Page 1,  2
Author VVebb
author avatar Guides 3
Routes 4
Photos 18
Trips 23 map ( 150 miles )
Age 37 Male Gender
Location Flagstaff, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Aug, Jul, Sep → Early
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  5:11am - 7:50pm
Official Route
2 Alternative

Alone in the North
by VVebb

Likely In-Season!
This hike begins at the base of the East Rim of the Kaibab Plateau, about 7 miles (as the crow or California Condor flies) west of the Colorado River. When you reach the rim, you can see many miles of the surrounding countryside, including an elevated view of the Grand Canyon. The vast majority of the trail is in the Saddle Mountain Wilderness. This trail receives very little use, as evidenced by the thick overgrowth of oak and other trees in the middle one-third of the path. I gave this hike a route-finding rating of 3.0, which could change for the better if somebody came through with a machete, or change for the worse if the trees continue to grow and choke the trail further. However, you're in a canyon, so it would be tough to get "lost."

The 20-mile stretch of the dirt road leading up to the trailhead is open to camping. Due to the remoteness of the trailhead and the benefit of getting an early start during the summer, you may want to camp somewhere along this stretch and start hiking the next morning.

As described here, this hike begins at the base of the East Rim of the Kaibab Plateau. You could also start on the East Rim and hike down; however, the perennial water is only in the upper section of the canyon, so a top-to-bottom hike would require you to carry a lot more water. Setting up a shuttle would require a ton of driving, so I don't recommend it. You could do this as a day hike, but as long as you made the long drive out to the trailhead, you might as well make it a two-day backpacking trip. The perennial water in the upper reaches is pretty reliable, as evidenced by reliance on North Canyon Creek as a stronghold for a genetically unadulterated population of endangered Apache trout. In June 2010, the lower extent of the water was about 5 miles up from the trailhead. Bring a water purification mechanism; the creek water is abundant and tasty.

As you leave the trailhead, you immediately drop into a wash, which is the lower extent of North Canyon. High desert flora vegetates the wash, but junipers line the canyon's edges. This part of the trail heats up very quickly. Starting early morning is recommended. The first major landmark is a large alcove containing a notable amount of Indian rock art. (Petroglyphs? Pictographs? I can't remember which.)

After a mile or two, the high desert flora gives way to more significant vegetation (which is a mixed blessing because it offers shade but was VERY overgrown as of June 2010). A couple of miles later, the thick vegetation opens up into ponderosa pine forest. The pines eventually give way to mixed conifer forest. Somewhere near the transformation from pine forest to mixed conifer forest, you'll reach (1) the lower extent of the perennial creek and (2) the junction with Trail #7, which goes about 1.5 miles up to the East Rim Viewpoint, although not necessarily in that order.

Assuming that you're doing this as a backpacking trip, there are two logical options for camping: (1) camp in the canyon near the creek -- taking care to honor Forest Service regulations regarding minimum campsite distance from the creek -- or (2) hike up to the East Rim and camp up on the top. I recommend that you set up camp in the canyon near the creek, grab a flashlight, hike up to the East Rim, enjoy the changing colors of the countryside as the sun sets, and then hike back down to camp in twilight. Notably, the East Rim faces east, so sunset will probably pale in comparison to the sunrise.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2011-01-18 VVebb

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    As mentioned above, this hike can be done from bottom-to-top or top-to-bottom. The hike description above and these directions both assume starting from the bottom.

    From Flagstaff, take Hwy 89 north for 108 miles to Hwy 89A. Turn left/west onto Hwy 89A. Take Hwy 89A west for 35.8 miles to Buffalo Ranch Rd./FR-8910, which is *not* especially well-marked. (As you look left/south, you'll see the backside of a stop sign, and a cattle guard just past that, and a BLM info kiosk just past that.) Turn left/south onto Buffalo Ranch Rd/FR-8910. Take Buffalo Ranch Rd/FR-8910 south for 17.0 miles to FR-631/FR-220. Take FR-631/FR-220 for 3.5 miles, where it ends at the North Canyon Trail / Trail #4 trailhead. The final 20 miles of this drive is dirt, most of which is "washboard" but otherwise good.

    Here is a simplified USFS map showing various access points to the Saddle Mountain Wilderness:
    page created by VVebb on Jan 18 2011 9:03 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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