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Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23, AZ

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Guide 93 Triplogs  5 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson W
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Distance One Way 26 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,564 feet
Elevation Gain 1,600 feet
Accumulated Gain 5,518 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 44.39
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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75  2019-05-06 tibber
57  2019-05-05 tibber
45  2019-05-04 tibber
9  2018-03-31
MDT - Pete's Pond - Pole Hollow Canyon Loop
9  2018-03-31
City Creek TH to Pete's Pond loop
5  2018-01-06
Mazatzal Peak Loop
18  2017-05-20
Barnhardt to Mazatzal Divide to Hopi Spring
14  2017-05-13
Mazzy Peak Loop with Bear Spring Spur
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 7
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Mar
Sun  6:10am - 6:30pm
Official Route
19 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
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This entire passage is on the Mazatzal Divide Trail (#23). From the junction with the Cornucopia Trail 0.5 miles from the Mt. Peeley Trailhead the route works its way up and around Mt. Peeley. It passes the wilderness boundary, gets around the head of a drainage and then turns to the north and follows a ridgeline. It circles counter-clockwise around an unnamed peak and then descends down to the Bear Spring turnoff. It climbs up and over the previous ridgeline and drops down to the Shake Tree Trail junction. From here the trail continues north and downhill, passing Mazatzal Peak. The trail climbs and then drops again down to the Barnhardt Trail junction. Turning west the trail continues downhill, passing Chilson Spring, contouring for a short ways and then climbs above the North Fork of Deadman Creek. It passes Horse Camp Seep, continues climbing and reaches Hopi Spring. The trail crosses the upper end of Deadman Creek, heads west and then turns north and begins descending along the east side of Maverick Basin. The trail continues northbound and then turns to the west and comes to The Park and the intersection of the North Peak Trail (#24). A few miles further north it reaches the end of the passage at the Red Hills Trail junction.

Southern Trailhead
Mt Peeley TH
Drive 4.8 miles north of Sunflower/Bushnell Tanks on AZ 87 to MP 222.8. Turn left (west) onto a paved road (FR 627) which is opposite the Mt. Ord turnoff. Follow FR 627 downhill for 1.2 miles and then turn right over a cattle guard onto FR 201. Drive 9.3 miles on FR 201 to the Mount Peeley TH where there is a small parking area. The sign here says Cornucopia Trail (#86) and indicates a 0.5-mile hike to the Mazatzal Divide Trail (#23) and the AZT.

Northern Trailhead
Red Hills Trail Junction
From Payson on AZ 87 drive west on Main Street. Stay on the main road past a golf course, where the pavement ends and the road becomes FR 406. About 10 miles from AZ 87, park at City Creek Trailhead on the east side of the road. Hike southwest up the Mazatzal Divide Trail #23 for approximately 5.75 miles to the junction of the Mazatzal Divide trail and the Red Hills Trail.

Updated 2017-07-24

Check out the Official Route and 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.

2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot

    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.

    Most recent of 42 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    City Creek TH to Pete's Pond loop
    Driving in, I noticed the development at the end of the pavement, where the two covered arenas are, were up for sale.
    HAZ retreat? ... /326742102

    First time hiking from the City Creek TH. Guess I never realized this is where the northern terminus for the MDT #23 was. The trail is a steady climb for 6 miles but in great shape. Great views all around. At the top, back on the AZT again after passing the Red Hills trail. We rollercoastered southbound on the MDT to the intersection with North Peak Trail. We passed and talked to one AZT'er going Northbound from San Diego. His shoes did not look like he was going to make it much farther, but he was not concerned.

    My goal for the day was hitting some new trails, as well as a stop at Pete's Pond. We went off trail westish at the the North Peak Trail junction, and made our way to Petes Pond. (Who is this Pete Guy?) . Petes was a great place for lunch as long as you don't mind being photographed by the two game cameras that are there.

    After Lunch we headed down the North Peak trail. As others have noted (which I read after the hike) the western .5 - .75 miles of this trail are hard to follow in spots. a GPS track is great to keep you in the vicinity of the "Trail". Once you drop off the top, the route finding is a piece of cake. It is a steep loose bugger in many spots.

    just North of the Mineral Creel TH we followed an old two track/creek bed in Pole Hollow Canyon. This was the gem of the day.

    It's obvious is gets traffic from both game and humans and at one time was cleared, cutting out some of the bends in the canyon.
    All of the human sign was within 1-2 miles of the Northern TH.

    Great weather on the day.

    Fauna on the day
    1 Elk, 1 Deer, 4 javelina, 1 squirrel, 1 Teva.
    Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
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    MDT - Pete's Pond - Pole Hollow Canyon Loop
    Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
    Well maintained. Glad it exists. My least favorite segment of #23. Nice chat w/~28yo NOBO thru hiker named something like trailpants, transplant or transcript. From San Diego, started Mar 9th, previously completed PCT.

    Pete's Pond
    We crawled 4.5 hrs to the pond. Great lunch break spot!

    The Park
    Nice to return to one of the few places I've camped.

    North Peak Trail #24
    Good luck finding the western 0.5 mi end. Great views heading East. That said I'd rather only hike this trail west due to loose footing on steep grades.

    Pole Hollow Canyon
    Pleasant surprise. The most continuously interesting hiking segment of the day. Much easier to negotiate the terrain than anticipated. Likely most enjoyable descending. Minor route finding and lack of maintained trail will keep the masses out.

    blue dicks, strawberry hedgehog, two white petal onion varieties
    Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Up YB > SOBO on AZT > FR201 > down GR to finish off MDT23 & AZT23. This is a very nice stretch of the AZT, except for a few dozen downed trees across the trail. Bike shuttle between Barnhardt and Deer Creek trail heads.

    Approaching Peely trail head, two military jets (F-4's I believe) came screaming out of the west and dropped way down deep into Deer Creek canyon, following it east - awesome!
    Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
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    Quick overnighter to Bear Spring before my weekend and Dallin's 9 month summer is over. We started early in the afternoon. The 2 hours of sleep in my car the night before felt fantastic on the climb up. Then I realized I forgot my sleeping pad. We got to camp at Bear Spring and immediately checked on the well. It was full. After dinner, we took a walk SoBo along the Divide before it got dark. We enjoyed a nice fire and I slept on some pine needles. Conduction wasn't that bad, despite a wet quilt from an overnight rain that was short lived. Fortunately, it was an unseasonably warm night and I slept well. In the a.m. we made an invigorating pre-dawn trip to the spring before tearing down and leaving. Cruised along the Divide and down Barnhardt. Both are in great shape. The wind along the AZT felt nice. Saw plenty of deer, but no people out until the last mile of Barnhardt. Good little getaway in the Mazzies.
    Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
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    Mazzy Peak Loop with Bear Spring Spur
    I'd never done Y-bar or the Mazzy Peak Loop. When Joe offered it up, I though it might be on the hot side. Checking the HAZ weather forecast had highs of 78 down low and 71 up high. It wasn't too far off of that. The winds help keep things cooler. The warmest I was all day was on the steepish climb up Y Bar. Another plus is this one is in the 100 hikes book that Denny is trying to complete. But no Denny. :(

    Y Bar was not as bad as the rumors. The bottom section was cleared. There was one short section before getting into the gloriously cool pines, that could use a bit-o-work. The pines were a glorious 67 degrees, perfect for a break.

    Good to be on the AZT again! heading over to Bear Spring. The 1/4 mile to Bear Spring were a slice of heaven. Bear Spring, while full of water, unfortunately had a dead bird in it.

    Back on the Divide trail we headed 6 miles over to The Barndardt Saddle and trail. The trail is in great shape with only a few trees over the trail from winter. Great views.

    The top of Barnhardt is not my favorite, but made a lot more palatable now that it's an 8' wide trail! All the fun on this one is still from Big Kahuna to the Trailhead.

    Saw 2 Whitetail, 1 dead snake on the way in, one Blacktail Rattler and one Gopher on the Divide Trail. One Gopher snake that I could not avoid driving out. One Gopher Snake that I did avoid on the way out.
    Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Mazzy Peak Loop with Bear Spring Spur
    Needed another non obstructive hike so I picked Mazzie Loop and added Bear Spring to put a little meat on the bone.

    Up Y Bar and down Barnhardt. I think whichever you go down you will like least. That said, down Barnhardt is the wise choice.

    An unburnt pocket or two and the stand of pines is heaven to me on Y Bar. A break in the pines was the magic of the day. A solid 3 out of 5 hazopelli. Bee hive along trail is marked on my route.

    Windsor / Y Bar saddle over to Bear Springs has great views. Torched for the most part but the AZT has it in near pristine condition.

    The spur to Bear Spring was possibly the nicest part of the hike. Manicured trail and lush.

    Divide over to Barnhardt has nice views and the trail is in good condition. Not on my favorite list. The views up to Mazzie Peak are sweet.

    Barnhardt is unique as always. It doesn't seem as smooth descending as ascending. Passed one hiker in the final quarter mile the entire day. Nice temps.

    good variety
    paintbrush, lupine w/beans, poppies, sego lilies, antelope horns, claret cup, various daisies
    Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Mazatzals: Sunflower to City Creek
    Back in the Mazzies this weekend to revisit one of my favorite stretches of the AZT. Tested out a couple new pieces of gear: a 40L Palante Simple Pack and ZPacks Altaplex tarp.

    The forecast almost drove us elsewhere but with a bit of grit (and a good fire), the cold wasn't too bad.

    Day 1 was sunny and warm. We didn't see anyone from the 87 up until the last couple miles before the Mt. Peeley TH, where we ran into Doug, the trail steward for the end of the Saddle Mountain segment. The drainages along this segment in the fall are pretty amazing, I only wish I had come a week or two earlier when they were in their prime. The Divide may offer the big views along this stretch, but the Saddle Mountain segment has a character to it that I like a lot. We camped at the Peeley TH and were left alone for the most part. A couple of visitors drove through just before and after sunset.

    Hit Peeley first thing in the morning on Day 2. We decided not to follow the cairns and make our own path to the top. A little harder coming back down. I had to pull out Route Scout to get us back on track. We veered a little too far to the east and started to hit the really steep stuff. It was cloudy and windy from the beginning of the day, all the way to the end. In fact, it felt like it got colder instead of warmer as we headed into the afternoon. High winds along the ridges between Peeley and Bear Spring had us shivering. Great views along this stretch, as to be expected. We had Horse Camp all to ourselves the second night, with an awesome sunset. Very high winds and some rain/hail after we headed to bed.

    Day 3 was the coldest, but with less wind. I hiked out with my base layer that I usually sleep with still on. We made it out just as the dark clouds started to roll in, according to plan. I forgot how endless the downhill from the Red Hills JCT to City Creek can feel.

    Now the important stuff...

    Trail Conditions
    From the 87 to Horse Camp Seep is in near immaculate condition. Seriously, it almost feels like a new trail. No brush, new signs, and in some places completely reworked tread. A big thanks to everyone who helped get these sections up to snuff, it's pretty amazing to see the difference not even a year can make. From Horse Camp Seep to the Red Hills JCT remains untouched but it is mildly brushy, and should present only minor navigational hiccups, if any.

    Ok to rely on Bear Spring (obvious) and Horse Camp Seep for the foreseeable future. Smalls pools with light flow around mile 6 of the Saddle Mountain segment. Pools in McFarland past the trail jct, keep an eye open or you might miss them. Small pools along Cornucopia which would be hard to pull from but clear and usable if you can scoop it up. The wash before Chilson Spring is dry at the crossing, but large pools can be found further down the wash. Some small pools in the drainages between Chilson and Horse Camp Seep. Practically nothing between Horse Camp Seep and City Creek TH. We saw multiple water caches along the trail. A couple of gallons at the Peeley TH, a cache along the ridges between Peeley and Bear Spring (probably left by trail workers), and a cache just after the Barnhardt/Divide JCT in the cedars near the campsite on the right.


    I love everything about the new pack, but the fit wasn't quite right. I will be sending it back for a bigger torso length. I'm excited to finally enter the realm of sub-10lb base weight (weight of everything, except food and water). True ultralight backpacking.

    The tarp held up admirable despite my novice pitching skills. The high winds and hail on the second night was basically my worst fear regarding using a tarp instead of a tent, but it worked fine and I stayed completely dry. Going ultralight doesn't have to be an exchange of comfort for less weight, if you're willing to invest some time (and frankly, some money) developing and refining the skills needed to properly use the equipment.

    The show is pretty much over. Most of what's left is on the ground. Some good spots with leaves still on the trees along the Saddle Mountain segment in the washes.
    Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
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    Mazatzal Trail Maintenance
    Good little weekend trip into the Mazatzals for some brush clearing along the AZT section of the Divide Trail. I went up Y Bar mid morning on Friday. The trail gets rough in the middle but I really enjoy the last couple of miles. Caught up with fellow volunteer Alan just after the saddle and finished the trek over to Bear Spring together. We made it to camp and met with Carl, Jerry and Connie. We sat around camp and watched the moon come up and light the entire camp site up. Headlamps weren't necessary this night. On Saturday a.m. we worked north toward the Y Bar junction. Lee joined us in the process, followed by Dallin and Alex. With such a formidable crew, we just about turned that stretch into the nicest section of AZT for miles. After a nutrition break back at camp, we hiked south toward Peeley for some additional trimming but mostly to enjoy some views. Woke up to thick layer of smoke on Sunday. We made an early a.m. departure via Barnhardt and couldn't see the Rim or even Rye down below us. Definitely had a good time with a great crew! The Bear Spring turnout is a great little spot to camp.
    Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    AZT: Roosevelt to Washington Park
    April 9th
    Miles: 19
    AEG: 6,413 ft

    We started the climb from the 188 around 7:30 AM. The goal for the day was to make it to Pigeon Springs. The weather was great, and the views of Roosevelt Lake got more spectacular as we climbed out of the basin. After taking a break at Buckhorn Spring, the trail climbs relentlessly before topping out and contouring the mountain.

    Eventually we turned a corner and BAM!, the four craggy peaks were staring us right in the face. Quite the view! The trail through the Four Peaks passage is very well maintained, except for a small stretch where we were pushing through overgrowth that nearly obscures the trail. Despite the large swaths of burned forest, this passage was one of my favorite so far. Eventually we reached Pigeon Springs and found a relatively flat spot to set up our tents.

    April 10th
    Miles: 19
    AEG: 2,196 ft

    The morning began with a clear sky. After packing up the gear we headed for Pigeon Springs Rd to begin the long road walk. I'm usually not a fan of road walks, but this was an exception. There were great views on either side of the Superstitions, Sierra Ancha, and Lake Roosevelt. The immediate area itself was very beautiful as well. Around 10 AM we could see clouds beginning to build on top of Browns Peak, and a storm hitting the Supes.

    We stopped to take out the rain jackets and a white mini-van rolled up and asked if this road would take them all the way back to the 87. I pulled out my map and told them it looked like the road ended well before reaching the 87 and that they needed to turn around and take El Oso or the other forest road. The wife sitting in the passenger seat seemed concerned that we were about to be backpacking out in the rain. :roll: By 11 AM it was lightly raining, which was initially quite exciting (I needed to test the rain gear anyway).

    Just as we reached the Boulder Creek drainage the storm began to give us its all. Heavy rain, wind, and thunder! By the time we reached Sunflower, the trail was a muddy slip and slide, my phone was soaked and unresponsive (may it RIP ](*,) ), and we were slightly chilled.

    We waited under the 87 underpass for my brother to arrive, who was picking us up so I could take an exam for an online class I'm taking before returning to the trail the next day.

    April 11th
    Miles: 12
    AEG: 2,643 ft

    After finishing up my exam, we were back on trail around 1 PM. Under the 87, we did some last minute gear prep before heading out and ran into three other hikers, Giltch, Kegel, and Minus. They were 17 days into their thru-hike and were excited to get into Pine for some much needed beer. We were all aiming for McFarland Canyon for the night.

    We started up Saddle Mountain and enjoyed all the green scenery in the area. Just before reaching camp, we passed the half way mark for the AZT and celebrated with the thru-hikers before settling down for the night in McFarland Canyon.

    April 12th
    Miles: 21
    AEG: 5,249 ft

    The thru-hikers were up and leaving camp just as we were beginning to pack up. We weren't sure if we would ever see them again. The trail gets a little hard to follow just after McFarland Canyon to Thicket Spring. The Guthooks app says to head straight up a wash but apparently there is an alternative route that is clear of brush and well defined that you can take at the first junction past McFarland.

    Once we reached the junction for the Peeley TH we stopped to take a break and ran into Joe, a gentleman I had met at a trail maintenance event about a month earlier. Quite the coincidence, if we would have left a minute earlier we probably would have never seen him. He was meeting up with another fellow to remove some downed trees along the trail.

    The views along the Mazatzal Divide from Peeley to Y-Bar were my favorite for the entire trip. The rugged peaks of the Mazatzals and expansive views on either side were exciting to see. We ran into Minus again at the Bear Spring junction taking a lunch break. After taking our own lunch break at the spring, we headed for Horse Camp Seep.

    As we approached Horse Camp Seep, we ran into the three thru-hikers again. There was another hour or so of light, so they continued on, we decided to call it a day where there was water. Horse Camp Seep was a sweet spot and had great camping.

    April 13th
    Miles: 18
    AEG: 2,907 ft

    The goal for the day was to make it to the East Verde River, a relatively easy day that was mostly downhill. We made our way along the Divide trail and passed "The Park", an inviting stand of pines and great campsites. We stopped to take a lunch break at the Red Hills seeps. From here the trail descends steeply to the East Verde River. Not very fun for the knees.

    We camped just across the river and enjoyed the warmest night of the trip. We were now done with the Mazzies, and I felt the proposed "overgrowth" was kind of blown out of proportion, or there has been a lot of trail work in the past couple of months. Probably a bit of both. ;) I never felt like the trail was hard to find (except for the stretch between McFarland and Thicket) or that I had to deal with excessive brush that I wouldn't expect on most wilderness trails.

    April 14th
    Miles: 23
    AEG: 4,196 ft

    With burgers and beer on our minds, we got up early to make it into Pine with sufficient time to hit up THAT brewery and the market. The rocks along Whiterock and Hardscrabble Mesas were annoying and it felt like I was constantly stubbing my toes or rolling my ankle. Otherwise the area is quite beautiful and welcoming. The rocks put these two passages high on my list of "one and done" passages.

    We reached Pine around 5pm with plenty of time to get burgers and beer. Lo and behold, we run into Minus, Kegel, and Giltch at the brewery along with another thru-hiker, Thomas, who was taking a zero in town. We joined them and enjoyed the comradery. Thomas decided to join us at camp for the night near the Pine TH while the others reserved the cabin in the back.

    April 15th
    Miles: 17
    AEG: 3,303 ft

    We woke up with frost all over our gear. :yuck: After packing up, Thomas headed for the Highline and we headed for breakfast at the Early Bird. Just before we finished up eating we ran into Minus who was getting some breakfast himself.

    We headed for the Highline. It was nice to be climbing on a well graded trail with less rocks, especially because a hole was beginning to develop in my right shoe. I could feel every rock under my foot on that spot.

    At Red Rock Spring we made a quick stop and finished off the last bit of the Arizona Trail Ale we picked up the night before at the market.

    Once we reached Webber Creek we caught up with Thomas who was drying out all his gear. We stopped to take a break, and eventually Minus came strolling down the trail to join us. Minus decided to hike with us for a stretch after the break. The Rim gets right up in your face along this stretch and red dirt contrasting with the green pines and cedars made for great scenery.

    We were about 9 miles from the finish and a little antsy to finish up. Eventually Minus stopped to take a lunch break and we continued on after filtering some water. Now with only 5 miles left, we kicked it into high gear and made for the Washington Park TH. Clouds started to build along the rim.

    We reached the trailhead and got ready to hunker down for a few hours of inclement weather before our ride would arrive. However, after a few snow flurries, the clouds broke. Eventually Thomas and the other three thru-hikers caught up with us, we exchanged information, and said our goodbyes. All of them were very enthusiastic about Arizona and couldn't stop commenting on the diversity of the state and how we had a pretty cool home.


    Besides my foot issue due to my failing shoe on the last day, I felt great this entire trip. I never woke up sore or feeling exhausted. I listened to my body, and I was proactive about keeping my feet and knees happy. It really paid off and made the trip that much more enjoyable.

    This concludes all of Southern and Central Arizona passages for me. I'm looking forward to the easy walking on the plateau to the UT border!

    Lots of lupine in the middle elevations, not much at the highest and lowest elevations.
    Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Met up with John & Joe for some trail work. They came in from Peeley TH, while I started from Barnhardt TH and took Y-Bar up to the Divide and over to camp at Bear Spring. Tons of Wildflowers along the way, as well as scattered showers and some really neat looking cloud cover. I especially enjoyed the last 2 miles of Y-Bar before the Divide. The entire trail is in great shape (except for the rocks) and easy to follow. Saturday we started at 8am and cleared about 12 large trees between Bear Spring and Y-Bar junction. Had lunch here with a thru-hiker working on completing the AZT for a 3rd time. Then we cleared brush as we worked from Y-Bar toward Brody Seep and finished around 5pm. Later that evening we were joined by a couple from Phoenix who would join in the brush clearing on Sunday and Monday. I put in 4 more hours of trail work Sunday morning before heading back to camp, packing up and hiking back down. I had a good time with good company and awesome weather.

    Several different blooms in lower elevations. Some lupines up top.

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    Map Drive

    To hike
    Mount Peeley: Usually closed for winter and not advised when wet. Drive 4.75 miles northeast of Sunflower, AZ on AZ 87 past mile marker 222. At the top of the long climb turn left (west) on to FR 626. Drive 1.25 miles on this winding paved road to a junction with a gravel road entering from the right. Cross the cattle guard and drive another 1.25 miles to a 3-way junction; stay right on to FR 201 and continue 9.5 miles along this narrow, twisting road to the Mount Peeley trailhead and a small parking area. The AZT is 0. 5 miles west of the parking lot along the Cornucopia Trail (#86) where Passage 22 lies to the south, and Passage 23, also called the Mazatzal Divide Trail, heads north.
    page created by joebartels on Jan 09 2010 12:41 am
    1 TB Flash Drive... $40
    help comment issue

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