Pilot Rock Summit, AZ

Guide 4 Triplogs Mine 0 1 Topic
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 16 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,833 feet
Elevation Gain 830 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,500 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 23.5
 Interest Off-Trail Hiking & Peak
 Backpack Yes
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28  2017-01-07 VolcanoCLMBR
35  2014-09-27
Return of the Painted Desert Rendezvous
author avatar Guides 22
Routes 63
Photos 512
Trips 464 map ( 2,966 miles )
Age 32 Male Gender
Location CA
Associated Areas
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Northeast Region
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Preferred Apr, Mar, Oct, Nov → Early
Sun  5:15am - 7:16pm
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Nearby Area Water
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The top of PeFo
by rally_toad

A journey to the top of Pilot Rock is a real adventure. Off-trail the entire way through what can be harsh and rugged territory. The lack of water means that all water must be packed in, which can make for quite a heavy pack. However, the reward is worth it, as only a handful of people climb Pilot Rock and most of them are park employees. Chances are you will not see anyone from the time you leave Kachina Point until you arrive back at the trailhead.This could be done either as a backpack or a long dayhike. There are plenty of places to tent camp on flat ground. However there are no trees, so no hammocking (sorry te-wa!).

This is quite an adventure, so I am not going to provide too much information here. Basically, there are two ways in which you can bag Pilot Rock. The first is the straight shot, tackling it from the south. This is supposedly doable. However, I had to turn around as I could not find a way up the hills south of Pilot Rock. The problem coming from this direction is the steep soft hills just south of Pilot. These are nearly impossible to climb up, although it has been done before.

So what is the other way? Consult a topographical map and you will see it right away. The land east of Pilot Rock is much gentler and more easily navigated. So the 2nd way would be to hike north from Kachina Point until you are east of Pilot and tackle it from the east. This is the way I was able to summit Pilot. However, this way is still not easy and will take effort.

There are other cool things to say out in the Wilderness area of Petrified Forest, petroglyphs, Indian ruins, an old model-t, pottery sherds, petrified wood, and Onyx Bridge. This Wilderness is relatively pristine and probably my favorite place in the park. It is a great way to get away from the crowds along the roads and short trails at PeFo and see something that 99% of visitors do not see.

It's unlikely that the same route will be taken twice, so the mileage and elevation gain is a general, rough estimate. Stay safe and have fun!

Check out the Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. It would be insane to attempt this entire hike without prior experience hiking.

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

2009-08-17 rally_toad
  • Pefo PDF
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    Pefo PDF
  • Pefo PDF - 2
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    Pefo PDF - 2
  • Pefo PDF - 3
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    Pefo PDF - 3
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 $$

Petrified Forest National Park
$25 per car (for 7 days), Bike/Walk-in $15 Petrified National Forest

Paved - Car Okay

To hike
Kachina Point is 2 miles from the North entrance of the park and the visitor center along the main park road. There will be a sign for Kachina Point and the Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark. The easiest access down into the Wilderness is by an unofficial trail behind the inn. The trail starts good but fades fast.
page created by rally_toad on Aug 17 2009 2:40 pm
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