The top of PeFo
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 the 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 are 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 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.
Its 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!
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.