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