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Pilot Rock Summit, AZ

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Guide 4 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northeast > Holbrook
5 of 5 by 3
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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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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
28  2017-01-07 VolcanoCLMBR
35  2014-09-27
Return of the Painted Desert Rendezvous
Author rally_toad
author avatar Guides 21
Routes 4
Photos 512
Trips 422 map ( 2,598 miles )
Age 28 Male Gender
Location Boulder City, NV
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Mar, Oct, Nov → Early
Sun  6:06am - 6:18pm
0 Alternative
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 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!

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
    area related
    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.

Most recent Triplog Review
Pilot Rock Summit
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Return of the Painted Desert Rendezvous
PEFO Pilot Rock Adventure 2014 - "Return of the Painted Desert Rendezvous"

Rob del Desierto and I had talked about a PEFO wilderness backpack for some time and agreed that late September would be a great time to target an ascent of the PEFO high point, Pilot Rock :next:

As the date approached for the wilderness adventure, some crazy weather starting showing up in the forecast. This served as the primary filter whittling the original 19 committed/interested group of HAZers down to two! Rob and I had exchanged emails indicating both of us were committed no matter what Mother Nature wanted to throw at us - we had plenty of back up plans including;

1. Onyx Bridge :next:
2. Puerco Pueblo and nearby rock art :next:
3. PEFO Ranger selections from NPS site :next: (Devil's Playground?)
4. Rock Art Ranch :next:
5. Grand Falls :next:

Rob arrived at my Ahwatukee home mid-afternoon and mid-dust storm we were on our way to Holbrook. We were treated to a great light show along the I-40 between Flagstaff and Holbrook. Once checked into our Holbrook Best Western base camp, we broke out the BBQ to grill up some choice steaks and corn-on-the-cob. We were soon joined by a lost beagle. Toko was her name per the engraved heart dangling from her collar. A phone number was also engraved on the heart. We called the surprised owner who promptly sent her brother over to Room 115 to collect the grateful beagle (grateful for the steak samples that is).

Saturday dawn broke with some surprisingly clear skies and a forecast for heavy showers beginning mid-morning.

We forced down some of the Best Western breakfast buffet (the self-made waffle with fresh fruit gets the only passing marks) while sitting amongst all the French tourists. Loaded up the F-150 and headed to PEFO about 20 miles east along the I-40 from Holbrook. We made a slight detour along the way, checking out the flooded Lithodendron Wash. Having explored this rare sight, we made our way over to the park entrance. I had my NPS annual pass ready, but we were being waved through by the Ranger indicating it was one of the "free entrance fee" days at the National Parks - enjoy!

We pulled up to Painted Desert Inn ready to explore the PEFO Black Forest and Quest for Onyx Bridge, but needed to alter plans. I had a chance to explore some parts of Mary Colter's renovation of the Painted Desert Inn :next: ... b-2013.pdf and Painted Desert Rim Trail :next: while Rob took care of business from afar.

We continued our PEFO hiking flexibility by heading over to Puerco Pueblo and exploring the petroglyphs along the west service road heading towards Newspaper Rock.

Our afternoon featured a surprisingly dry and mud-free trek towards Onyx Bridge and some preliminary route finding towards Pilot Rock. Thanks Rob for pointing out the rock art panels and dinosaur fossils along the route.

We wrapped up with a late afternoon BBQ of some brats n beer at the Chinde Point picnic table area :next: ... _large.pdf before hitting the road back to the PHX area. I think I've got Rob convinced that all Country & Western tunes must contain one of the three main theme items;
1. Girls/Women
2. Alcohol
3. Trucks
Truly visionary Country & Western tunes contain all three main theme items...

Fitbit totals; 15.16 miles and 1060 AEG

Photos to follow (when I get the chance)...

PS. Post hike, we obtained an NPS brochure for Onyx Bridge :next: (includes GPS coordinates for bridge - feeling foolish thwarted again?)

PPS. Rob and I agree that a Spring Redux is mandatory to conquer Pilot Rock and the ever elusive, Onyx Bridge. :)

Permit $$

Petrified Forest National Park
$20 per car (for 7 days), Bike/Walk-in $10 Petrified National Forest

Map Drive
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. 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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