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Walnut Canyon - AZT #31, AZ

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Guide 62 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Flagstaff > Flagstaff SE
3.6 of 5 by 23
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 17.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,138 feet
Elevation Gain 711 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,660 feet
Avg Time One Way 6-9 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 23.23
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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65  2019-08-31
AZT South Rim GC to Gooseberry TH
30  2018-05-06 tibber
10  2018-05-06 desertgirl
8  2018-05-04
AZT #31 North end
6  2018-04-08
Fisher Point via Sandys Canyon Trail
16  2017-09-28
Marshall Lake to Fisher Point
13  2016-07-30
Sandys Canyon Trail #137
25  2016-06-01
AZT: Mormon Lake to Utah
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
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   Sep, Jun
Sun  6:14am - 6:23pm
Official Route
11 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Likely In-Season!
From the Marshall Lake Trailhead the trail heads mostly west across flat forest land. It passes through a gate, drops into a small canyon, crosses a road and climbs out the other side. The trail crosses FR 128B and then descends steeply into Lower Walnut Canyon. It passes the Sandy's Canyon Trail junction, turns to the right and goes up the canyon. The trail forks to the right and climbs steeply out of Walnut Canyon at Fisher Point. Once on top it passes the Fisher Point Trail junction and then crosses FR 301. The trail parallels Walnut Canyon and passes another trail junction. After two more junctions the trail descends down into a tributary of Walnut Canyon. It follows the canyon for a short ways and then climbs steeply out of it. From here the trail joins a two-track and then heads north up to FR 303, which is a trailhead. The trail stays north of the Walnut Canyon National Monument until it crosses the entrance road. It then turns to the north and works its way down to Interstate 40.

About 6.4 miles from the south end of this passage the AZT splits. This passage and passage 32 continue in a wide arch through many gentle miles of the stunning Arizona high country around Flagstaff. Passage 33 takes users into town. Know that shopping opportunities are available on both routes, the bypass route crosses highway 89 less than two miles east of a large mall and motels, and cab fares in town are quite reasonable.

Southern Trailhead
Marshall Lake Trailhead - FR 128
From Flagstaff, take the Lake Mary Road exit (339) off I-17 for 9 miles, then turn left (east) on FR 128 at the sign for Marshall Lake. Pass the observatory turnoff, then at 2.2 miles turn left before Marshall Lake (more of a marsh) and park at the AZT sign on the left. If you are coming from the south on Lake Mary Road, the Marshall Lake turnoff is 7.5 miles north of Pine Grove Campground.

Northern Trailhead
Interstate 40 - West of Cosnino Exit
Old Walnut Canyon Road Trailhead: From Flagstaff, take the Country Club Road (Exit 201) from I-40 and head south. Turn left at the Old Walnut Canyon Road (FR 303); the road will turn to dirt. The trailhead is about 4 miles east on the right (south) side of FR 303. There is room for horse trailers.
Canyon Vista Campground: From Flagstaff, drive southeast 6 miles on Lake Mary Road (Forest Highway 3). Turn left into Canyon Vista Campground. When the campground is open (May – October) parking is available for day users only. Follow Sandy’s Canyon Trail for 1.4 miles to its intersection with the AZT.

Added 2017-07-24

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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 21 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Walnut Canyon - AZT #31
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    My wife and I hiked Sandy's Canyon and then something over a mile into Walnut Canyon. On the way back, I went up to Fisher Overlook to check out the views.

    So, getting there... the written driving directions are correct for the hike, but the GPS coordinates for Google (and probably the other mapping services too) are incorrect - they led us to the nearby campground instead of Sandy's Trailhead. Not a big deal - it was easy to get to the correct starting location, but someone may want to correct this. [EDIT: Ignore the preceding paragraph - GPS coordinates for the drive have been fixed. The official GPS track has also been fixed to start at the trailhead instead of the campground.]

    When we got there, I realized that I had been there once or twice back in the late eighties or early nineties. But I hadn't hiked Sandy's Canyon. I went there with some of my climbing buddies to climb at The Pit. I wasn't very good back then and really struggled on those climbs. I'd probably still struggle on them, but perhaps for different reasons.

    Sandy's Canyon is okay. Walnut Canyon is a lot better - good views and more enclosed. Some cool caves along the way. The view from Fisher Overlook is okay too, but I couldn't find a point at which to see much of Walnut Canyon due to trees. (But due to time constraints, I didn't spend a lot of time up there.) In hindsight, I think my time might have been better spent hiking more of Walnut Canyon.

    Like everywhere else I've hiked recently, it's really dry there.

    It seemed to be a popular spot; we saw a number of other hikers and mountain bikers - a surprising number of mountain bikers. We had dropped our daughter off for an event at NAU; we found it to be a quick and easy drive to and from the campus.
    Walnut Canyon - AZT #31
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    This was me & my wife’s third annual Flagstaff fall colors romantic getaway weekend. The past two years, I’ve done a shorter hike the Thursday we arrive in in town. Last year, I hiked Colton Crater. A month ago, hiking Sandy Canyon, I had skipped climbing to the top of Fisher Point — which overlooks the intersection of Sandy Canyon, Walnut Canyon and Skunk Canyon — due to being wore out from too much bushwhacking. Eventually, I settled on hiking from Marshall Lake to the Flagstaff Sam’s Club, via Fisher Point, on Arizona Trail passage’s #31 and #33. For some reason, I thought a twelve mile hike would be a good ‘warmup’. :?

    At the Arizona Trail trailhead on the southwest ‘shore’ of dry Marshall Lake, my wife spotted several used tampons. Eww! ‘Leave no trace’ would never have been so appreciated. :o

    It was an easy walk across Anderson Mesa. Just before Marshall Mesa Tank, a large fallen tree blocks the trail. There is already a use trail around it. Not sure if it is scheduled for removal?

    The ‘descent’ to the tank is only 200 ft., and the ‘climb’ back out only 100 ft., so it seemed a bit fussy to me for it to have something like 10 switchbacks. The odd number of switchbacks would be a theme all the next four miles to the rim of Sandy Canyon. The switchbacks add unnecessary, and unexpected, distance to Arizona Trail #31. (A trail sign at Marshall Lake says it is 5.7 miles to the base of Fisher Point: It is now actually 7.4 miles.) Nonetheless, it is a pleasant stroll.

    On the descent to Sandy Canyon, I narrowly avoided squishing a tarantula. I hate spiders. They scare me. But for some reason, tarantulas don’t bother me near as much. Maybe because they look like furry, eight-legged, puppies?

    Atop Fisher Point, I couldn’t see much to the north, but could see for miles south, including Mormon Mountain. I took more photos & video at Fisher Point than anywhere else on my hike, but I never felt like I quite ‘got’ the feel of the area. After the photogasm, I took a twenty minute break for lunch, relaxing in the shade, enjoying the views.

    After descending back to the canyon floor, I headed up AZT #33 towards Flagstaff. Like Sandy Canyon — if you are not bushwhacking! ;-) — Skunk Canyon is a narrow, but grassy-bottomed terrain feature. Arizona Trail #33 very gradually heads up 1.75 miles to the Flagstaff Loop Trail. Only 200 yds. further, the trail turns east through an ungated fence unto an old forest road.

    The next 1.5 miles, to the Rio de Flag — yes, that is its name — wetlands, is also on old jeep trail, through the same grassy terrain with plenty of shade trees that typified the first 12.5 miles of my hike.

    Just after my final break, with about 1.5 miles to go, I heard something over my shoulder. I looked back to see a toothless, woolen-capped, homeless guy riding a mountain bike out of a trailless draw. We exchanged greetings, and off he peddled towards town. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was for supplies, and he was wild camping up that draw.

    At the Rio de Flag wet lands, the Arizona Trail #33 turns to pavement, heading under I-40, past the Rio de Flag Reclamation Facility, to the Sam’s Club parking lot, where my patient wife was waiting for me.

    Rather than continue sidewalk hiking, we headed off to check in at The Inn at 410 on Leroux, before heading downtown for a (literally) steaming hot post-hike feast at Na-D-Li Korean on San Francisco St. :y:

    Hike Video: [ youtube video ]

    Mostly pine & evergreen along AZT #31 and AZT #33.

    Not much left, not even Sandy Canyon, which was awash in blooms only a month ago.
    Walnut Canyon - AZT #31
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    Just wasting gas and walking dogs. We started off on the beginning of the Walnut Canyon section of the AZT, but it seemed a little bland, so after a quick swim at a body of water some call a lake I guess, we headed to the Sandy Canyon Trail thinking it might be a little more scenic. It was, but it really did not matter, this was just a trip to spend sometime with the dogs, after a long time away from them and they enjoyed every bit of it.
    Walnut Canyon - AZT #31
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    AZT: Mormon Lake to Utah
    I'm not even sure how to approach a trip log of this magnitude, so I'll try to keep it short and focus on the highlights/lowlights.

    The hike took place between May 31st and June 16th. We had 2 zero days (one in Flagstaff, one in Tusayan), and one "nero" out of Tusayan. We averaged 25 - 30 miles a day, except for in the Grand Canyon. This trip started out with a few hiccups (feet, gear, fires, heat...) but after Tusayan we had the kinks worked out and I felt like a well oiled long distance hiking machine.


    Humphrey's Summit Side Trip
    We decided to include a side trip to Humphrey's Peak. It was a great way to escape the hottest part of the first weekend and let things cool down below 9000ft, even if the summit was swarming with gnats and people. :) On the way back down, I met @joebartels and @the_eagle. Very cool! Nice to have met you both!

    Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim was AMAZING. The scenery had my jaw on the ground nearly the entire time! I was extremely nervous about doing this passage in June and thought it was nearly impossible to score walk-in permits, but the stars aligned and we had no issues grabbing permits for both campgrounds.

    We did it over 3 days to beat the heat, camping at Bright Angel and Cottonwood campgrounds, moving only between the hours of 5am - 9am. Soaking in Bright Angel Creek made the heat tolerable, and it was a nice change of pace compared to the 25 - 30 mile days we were doing above the rims.

    One of the rangers issuing the permits gave us some dire warnings about "130 degrees in the sun", and how "nobody has fun down there this time of year." I even asked him about soaking in the creek to ward off the heat and he made it sound like it was only mildly effective. Contrary to what he said, it probably never got above 105 in the sun and sitting in the creek was actually extremely relaxing.

    We took the short side trip to Ribbon Falls and it was totally worth it. What a neat little oasis in the canyon! We saw a beaver in the creek between Bright Angel and Cottonwood campgrounds, I never expected to see that.

    The climb out of the Canyon from Cottonwood to the North Rim was well graded, and we topped out in about 2 hours 45 mins.

    There is definitely a lot more Grand Canyon hiking in my future come fall/winter/spring.

    North Rim + Kaibab Plateau
    It was so nice to get a break from the hot temperatures when we topped out on the North Rim. They didn't last for long, though. As soon as we were back down around 7000 ft it was getting warm again.

    The aspen and fir lined meadows were also a nice change of scenery. Easy going, dreamy hiking. It was also cool starting the day at Cottonwood and within a few hours being in a drastically different environment.

    We ran out of food just before highway 89A, so we went in to Jacob Lake for a small resupply and also had a great breakfast at the restaurant. We probably had less than 2000 calories per day from the North Rim to Jacob Lake, needless to say the hiker hunger was strong when we reached Jacob Lake.

    Finishing the AZT
    Damn did it feel good. :)


    Feet Issues
    On day one I had a nasty blister form on the bottom of my foot due to AZ rocks tearing up the tread on my one month old Altra shoes. When we reached Flagstaff I initially tried to remedy the problem by buying thicker insoles (SuperFeet) for my shoes and taping up my foot with climbing tape. I was apprehensive about getting new shoes because I've always had issues with breaking in new shoes, even trail runners. The tape and thicker insoles worked for about half of a day. I think the tape actually might have made matters worse. I decided the next day after leaving Flag to hitch back into town from Snowbowl Rd in order to pop the blister and let it heal with a zero day. We got a ride by the first vehicle that I thumbed!

    Popping the blister and staying off of it for a day helped, but after our Humphrey Summit and a couple more days of hiking the blister was back with a vengeance by the time we reached the Babbit Ranch passage. I was very nervous about going forward from Babbit Ranch because it would mean committing to about 60 miles before any relief in Tusayan. I nearly walked out to the highway from the TH and called for pickup. But after sleeping on it, I sucked it up and continued. Eventually, after hiking on it for another 40 miles, it stopped hurting so much.

    When we reached Tusayan I decided to bite the bullet and take a shuttle back to Flagstaff to get some new shoes. I bought some Brooks Cascadia 11's, swapped out the insoles with the SuperFeet I bought, and never had a single foot issue the rest of the trip. :)

    Gear Issues
    Sleeping pad got punctured and I lost my sunglasses the very first night. These items were replaced on the first visit to REI in Flag. Somewhere along the way, the "stay bar" in my backpack ripped through the bottom of my pack again and went missing.

    The nearby fires on the rim made the miles into Flagstaff smokey. It was particularly bad on the second day when we woke up at the Horse Mesa Trailhead with thick smoke to hike through til Marshall Lake. Those were some lightheaded, oxygen deprived miles.

    When I planned this trip, I expected the highs to be in the high 70s to low 80s, actual highs were in the high 80s to low 90s for the entire trip, expect for the North Rim and Kaibab Plateau South & Central passages. As expected, it reached low triple digits in the Grand Canyon. We combated the heat by taking a long 2 hour break during the hottest part of the day under a cedar or pine. If there was a good enough breeze, usually we could still hike in the heat. We were also consuming up to 2 gallons of water a day.

    Final AZT Thoughts

    In my opinion, the Grand Canyon takes the cake for the most scenic passage of the trail. That being said, I believe that below the Mogollon Rim the AZT is way more scenic per-mile than on top of the plateau. It's easy to keep motivated below the Rim when you're getting drowned in gorgeous wide open views in every direction, and hard to keep motivated above the Rim when all you're seeing most of the day is the next ponderosa or ceder 10 yards ahead of you. Just my opinion, though.

    AZ rocks with eat up your shoes.

    If I was to ever attempt a thru-hike of the trail, I would most likely start in the early fall and head south. The terminus in Utah isn't a terrible place to end, but Miller Peak and Mexico would have been a much grander ending.
    Walnut Canyon - AZT #31
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    I got dropped off on Frontage Rd. Off I-40. The weather was beautiful just having come from Phoenix, where it wasn't so nice :) A lot of wildflowers in the meadow south of the I-40 before entering the trees. A nice breeze picked up as I crossed Old Walnut Canyon Road just north of Walnut Canyon National Monument. I camped a ways off the Road the second time the trail crosses it. The weather reports I had been reading all the way up being dropped off indicated decent weather, but there was a pretty good storm that night.

    Packed up in the morning and followed the trail south of Walnut Canyon Rd. It had rained a lot the night before and the trail was VERY muddy. Other than being wet from the rain the trail was in great condition and very easy to follow, I stopped for lunch at the Fisher Point overlook. Hearing thunder in the distance It was time to continue on. Managed to make it into Flagstaff before the rain hit.

    I didn't see any water right off the trail, but I didn't exactly go looking for it. I packed plenty.
    Walnut Canyon - AZT #31
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    I-40 to 303 and back Kelly and I had discussed doing a weekend up in Flagstaff, it was just a matter of when. Kelly thot with the good forecast we should do it now. This was Thursday. So I did some Rx for lodging and on other hiking options for Sunday. Around 9 on Saturday, after Kelly got off work, we headed up to the cool country to the northern terminus of AZT31, a section I needed to complete due to blisters interruption (learned that the lighter socks rub my feet wrong) when I was hiking with others last year. I told Kelly it was pretty mundane territory; especially for an out and back but she said that was fine.

    We got started a little after noon. It was a beautiful day with blue skies and poofy clouds and a slight breeze. We made pretty decent time even as we stopped to admire and comment about the landscape. As we got into a more treed area we were surprised at the elevation gain as we hardly noticed. We enjoyed the fabulous views to the SF Peaks, change of topography, lots of flora (mostly purple loco), a few oak groves, going thru the different gates, seeing the various signs, noticing other trails and roads among other things.

    We got to the 303, checked out the kiosk, had a quick snack and then headed back. We were surprised we missed this one area that had huge mullein but then again we were coming at it from a different direction. We also were in the area of the tall and mostly naked ponderosa trees that had our attention.
    The trail itself is in pretty good condition though pretty narrow in parts. It's not very rocky and it looks like they're doing a minor re-reroute though we can't figure out why as it's just off to the side but it is more in the trees. We did some trash pick up and hiked all the way to the underpass to make sure my routes connect.

    We enjoyed our beers and some Fritos before heading to town and dinner and our second hike of the weekend. Thx Kelly for helping me get 'er done and congrats on your first official AZTing. I think you'll enjoy the rest of it just fine.

    Frontage Road to FR303 - [ youtube video ]
    FR303 to Underpass - [ youtube video ]

    Purple Loco
    Walnut Canyon - AZT #31
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    angela and i had been talking about a weekend in flagstaff
    she needed to finish a piece of azt segment 31 and i agreed to do it with her
    forecast looked good, so we decided to head up north when i got off work saturday
    found the starting point and got going around noon
    first mile or so had wide open views with some juniper, transitioning into pine and oak forest further south as you gain about 400 feet
    reached the turnaround point and had a snack, then headed back
    some high clouds and a good wind from the south kept temps comfortable enough
    first bit of azt i've done
    would like to do more, but other things like climbing, work and logistics will put that off for now
    a pleasant hike through diverse terrain with good company
    you got 'er done, angela :) another segment complete
    Walnut Canyon - AZT #31
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    Happy 4th of July, 2015

    Our next adventure on the Arizona Trail is segment # 31 Starting from Marshall Lake to Walnut Canyon including Fisher Point located in the cooler Coconino National Forest at 7000 feet near Flagstaff.

    The best thing about the AZT is you can either hike the entire length of 800 miles in order or pick and choose from the 44 or so segments, as to which trail is best for the current time of year! Since this is our second hike on the AZT we decided to keep cool on the 4th of July in the beautiful pines south east of Flagstaff.

    The night before our planned hike of 13 miles, there was a huge down pouring of rain at our Boondocking base camp east of Walnut Canyon National Monument's access road. The previous nights rain made for slow going and very muddy shoes, at least one inch at a time was sticking to every step along the Marshall Lake route towards Walnut Canyon and our car shuttle at the 303 Trail-head. This slowed our times but the kids had fun slogging along. No worries as the sunny day started to quickly dry out the trail and we were on our way!

    It is hard to judge how many miles the kids can hike as this was only our second time out, so we ended up slowing the pace down, enjoying lunch along the eastern rim of Walnut Canyon taking it easy before descending down to the canyon floor. Upon arrival to the canyon bottom hikers are treated to a brilliant red rock view of the canyon's walls including a mini alcove or shaded cave! We took lots of family pictures here including a couple panoramas and chatted with six other hikers that made their way in from the closer Canyon Vista Campground and the Sandy's Canyon access trails. The beautiful "Red Rocks" are roughly 5 miles from the Marshall Lake Trail-head.

    Since the kids wanted to see the 4th of July fireworks that evening in Flagstaff....Canyon Vista Campground was our "bug out alternative" and we took it as the going was too slow earlier back at Marshall Lake with the mud bogging in the first few miles (our other choice was to hike out Fisher Point but we would have had to hike by night to make it back to the car shuttle at the 303). It is always good to have a back up plan and we enjoyed the hike up Sandy's Canyon access and finished the day with roughly 8 miles logged. We were proud of our kiddos for their endurance and had a great time telling stories and singing songs along the way. Also a big shout out of thanks to a friendly camper staying at Canyon Vista, who helped shuttle me back to our car at Marshall Lake TH.

    The next few days we were able to enjoy exploring around the 303 and hiking out to beautiful Fisher Point and the following week we made the trek from Fisher Point into Flagstaff along the AZT section #33. Completing what we would have originally planned for.

    Hope you all enjoy the photos.


    Monday July 15, 2019:

    282 / 800 Miles Complete!

    Fenix and Riley enjoyed a couple miles with us yesterday between beautiful Fisher Point and the Hassel Trailhead located of Coconino Forest Road 301 overlooking Walnut Canyon National Monument some 500 feet down below!

    Although a very short hike, this walk in the woods of just two miles completed help to make the next segment an easy five miles. This couple miles is super scenic with overlooks down into Walnut Canyon, where many Agave Cactus were in bloom. My heart skipped a beat when Fenix snuck right up to the edge of a cliff for her own scenic view below!

    Forest Road 301 connects the Trailheads and is rather bumpy and slow going with minimal clearance issues if driven in dry weather.


    Tuesday July 16, 2019:

    285 / 800 Miles Complete!

    The Housholder Family Saunterers with Fenix and Riley added another three miles hiking around Walnut Canyon National Monument on the Flagstaff Equestrian Bypass Route. We hiked from the Old Walnut Canyon Road Trailhead over to the Monument Road junction. The trail was super easy going through mixed Ponderosa Pine Forest with a cool steady breeze behind our backs! The dogs loved their walk and so did we!


    Wednesday July 17, 2019:

    290 / 800 Miles Complete!

    This morning we had a fantastic saunter from the Hassel Trailhead off Forest Road 301 over to the Old Walnut Canyon Road Trailhead, Forest Road 303.

    There were more scenic overlooks into Walnut Canyon and the AZT passed through a really cool side canyon, where there was a huge shaded alcove which could have been home to prehistoric Anasazi natives many hundreds of years ago, it made for the perfect lunch spot!

    After switch backing out of the canyon we enjoyed a nice trail all the way back to the 303 Road. There was an AZT Wildlife Camera we happened upon. After adding in the short distance from the Hassel Trailhead the overall hike was around 5 easy and enjoyable miles!


    Thursday July 18, 2019:

    292 / 300 Miles Complete!

    Passage 31 - Walnut Canyon ☑️

    It took our family six segments over a four year span to complete Arizona Trail Passage 31 - Walnut Canyon.

    We first started at Marshall Lake when Bianka was six years old on our second AZT hike and after a down-pouring rain shower the night before we had up to one inch of mud on our shoes back then. It was slow going down into Walnut Canyon and it’s beautifully red cliffs were all around us as the trail dried out. Due to time constraints, we bailed on the Sandy Canyon Trail, connecting us to the Canyon Vista Campground so that we could get to Flagstaff in time for the Fourth of July Fireworks! A day later we hiked to Fisher Point, perhaps our favorite places on this passage followed by a run into Flagstaff via the Re-Supply Route Passage 33.

    Fast forwarding to this week, we were able to finally finish Passage 31 by hiking from Fisher Point over to Hassell Trailhead and on to the Old Walnut Canyon Road Trailhead. We set it up to do easy morning miles over a week so that we could play the rest of the day at places like the Aquaplex in Flagstaff.

    To complete this beautiful passage we needed to hike from the 303 Road further to the Walnut Canyon National Monument Road and finally, this morning we knocked out a quick two mile piece to the Cosnino Interstate 40 Tunnel Underpass which is the start of Mount Elden Passage 32.
    Walnut Canyon - AZT #31
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    Walnut Canyon - AZT #31 Sandy to FR 303 DRAT! blisters :tt: . But let me give it a shot anyway. If they don't get worse; I should be fine right? Luckily for us, Shawn's truck seats 6 so we were able to set up a 3 car shuttle... figure that one out, ha! After not wanting to run thru town from our campsite to get to Lake Mary Rd, we took the airport exit and came back to it on I-17. Karl figured out where the turn to Marshall Lake was and we made it to drop them off; expecting to run into them at the Sandy Cany Trail junction.... except that their trek was a mile and 1/2 or so longer than we thot.

    We arrived at the Canyon Vista hikers parking lot and geared up for the day. It was expected to be a nice trail with one hill and minimal elevation gain after that. I thot I would give myself to the junction or Fisher Point as the bail out option if my edge of the heal blisters gave me too much grief. They bothered me some but I thot I could tough it out. The trail was not nearly as sandy due to the recent rains I presume. We arrived at the junction and put out 3 Ts (Tibber) to let them know we had passed. We would end up doing this about 3 more times at various junctions until they caught us.

    This is such a lovely hike and the hill up and around toward Fisher Point is not bad at all. It has the steep/level/catch your breath pattern that I am very fond of :) . Once we finally finished off the second part of the climb and rounded the last bend, we made it to the junction with the Fisher Point Overlook. I had just been there earlier this year so I just rested while the others went to check it out. After they returned we fully expected to see K&K come up the hill but after awhile we decided to T the intersection and get back on the trail.

    After reviewing the printout I had with me, it looked like at each point they mentioned the elevation got lower so I announced it was all downhill from here to which Shawn promptly remarked, "I've heard that before" ;) . Well it was almost all downhill with just a bit of a climb out of Walnut Canyon. We hiked thru the forest and into open meadow-like areas. It was quite green and as I said before, the trail was really nice. But it didn't seem to matter anymore to my blistered heals. I was starting to drag now anxiously awaiting the lunch break so that I could put on a couple more band-aids and change to a thicker sock instead of the liners under my regular hiking socks.

    Finally around 12:30, we stopped. And about 10 minutes or so later K&K arrived. This time, we would get to hike with them instead of going our separate ways. We all looked forward to that. I tended to my blisters and then it was back on the trail again. I told Kathy to go ahead as I was going to be straggling :stretch: the rest of the day. She would go ahead for awhile and then wait and hike with me from time to time. And then it was up and out of the Canyon for good as we passed a most interesting water cache for the animals.

    I started lagging even more now and my heals were starting to burn. I could probably finish off this hike but we had the Keet Seel backpack coming up in 4 days (which was later canceled :( as the person's vehicle we were going with got rear-ended and Dr. told her no heavy pack due to neck issues). Everyone regrouped at another intersection and it was here that I threw in the towel and told them I would probably have to stop at the next easiest access point. Lucky for me, that was only 1/2 mile away at FR 303. So they dropped me there and would pick me up after they finished out the last 4 miles. I was so looking forward to banging out my biggest back to back mileages but it just wasn't meant to be.

    1:55 PM So I laid down in the shade and spooked a few people that walked by. Another fella with a bike saw me laying there, put his bike in this truck and fired up the truck but didn't move for a few minutes so I thot he might think I'm dead or something so I popped up my head. He then drove away and said goodbye as he continued down the road (I should have asked him to give me a ride to the end of the road :doh: ). Well after about an hour I couldn't take it anymore so I got myself together and decided to walk down the road to the intersection with Old Walnut Canyon Rd... or at least as far as I could go.

    Well I guess Karl put on the afterburners and before I knew it, I saw him coming down the road around 3:15. I had walked about 1/2 mile. Karl on the other hand had hiked those last 4 miles in a little over an hour :o
    We drove back to the TH and the others toodled in about 10 minutes later. And then it was back to camp to pick up the packages of wood and for me to tear down my tent and load my stuff into Ambika's vehicle. Everyone helped me :gun: so the tent was down and folded in like 5 minutes and the car was loaded in 15. Awesome.

    We parted ways after completing another good weekend of the Arizona Trail.

    9-3-2014 And I have one video for this hike; not nearly as colorful as the previous day. It's produced, just not uploaded yet. 9-22-2014 finally published the video: [ youtube video ] ...
    Walnut Canyon - AZT #31
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    I was invited up to Camp May for the weekend but could only swing Fri and Sat nite. All I can say about their camp is :y: and so glad I came. Upon my arrival the Mays even helped me set up my tent. Once that was done it was time for alcohol and snacks and then an amazing spaghetti dinner with garlic bread. But not before a walk over to the little telescope set up to look in the meadow at the pronghorns. This one pronghorn had HUGE antlers. The Mays also promised me a meadow full of elk but that was not to be :( as I am an elk jinxer.

    A little late in the evening I broke out the Fireball and we enjoyed that to give us the semblance of warmer bodies as it was a bit nippy. I don't know who at Reavis got me started on the Fireball but I have been passing along the tradition ever since :) . I slept pretty cold and realized about 4AM that I could use my sleeping bag liner but was too stupid [-X to get out of the sleeping bag and retrieve it. The next morning we had a nice breakfast burrito and freshly brewed coffee. This camp has everything; it was such a treat. The Mays as I expected, were great hosts.

    I wanted to do the Fisher Point hike and persuaded them and their friends to join us along with their two dogs. It was a little further away than I thot or seemed to recall from the map but we had all day to do what we wanted anyway. We made our way to the first junction with the AZT. Stephanie and Wade went up for a geocache (had to go up a pretty good hill). And then the pretty descent into Sandy's Canyon; all the time remembering you had to come back up.

    We crossed the dry Walnut Creek and then headed north on the trail passing the intersection with the trail to Marshall Lake and then the intersection that takes you to Flagstaff in under 4 miles. As you walk a little further east we finally spotted the cave and not too far a sign that said Fisher Point 1.1 miles UP the hill. So up we went encountering a couple switchbacks along the way. The up wasn't too bad as it leveled off a few times until you finally reach the intersections with Arizona Trail (before the intersection at the top of the hill there is also an intersection to another trail but I can't remember the name).

    We thot once at the point you would have views of the SF Peaks and such but you don't. Our mileage at the top was 4 miles. According to two trip reports the total mileage was supposed to be 6 miles (however, after re-reading the reports, Fisher Point was considered the cave below the point :doh: ) We hung up here for a bit and had a snack before making our way again. Now as you start coming down (heading north), you finely get fleeting views of the snow-topped SF Peaks. It's a nice little drainage you hike next to when you start heading south with some cool trees and rock formations and dead fallen over tree trunks.

    We headed over to the cave and checked it out and then decided we wanted to go further on to see the other caves. So glad we did as walking thru this section is so cool with the rock walls and grasses. I thot you might find this interesting: from
    Prior to the building of the dam on Lake Mary to contain the waters that make up 50% of Flagstaff's water supply, Walnut Canyon actually contained a free-flowing creek that sustained the ancient Sinagua people's of the area. As you hike into the canyon, you can see evidence of this once flowing creek in rounded river rocks that have mostly since overgrown with grasses and shrubs today.
    The layered rocks ahead of you are Coconino Sandstone, which represent the tilted layers of ancient sand dunes when the region was one of the world's largest deserts some 260 million years ago.
    These rocks he speaks of reminded me of THE WAVE area up in northern AZ/southern UT.

    Before continuing Mary Jo got her phone out to let the other folks know we'd just meet them back at camp. The internet/phone reception seems unlimited up here. Anyway, after passing a few hikers and asking them about the caves they said they had just left one. You come to the first cave pretty quickly, we checked it out and then headed down the trail for the bigger one I had read about.

    Soon we were there, took off our packs and put on our headlamps to explore deeper into this very chilly and narrow cave. It has a very narrow but very tall entrance and comes to an end pretty abruptly really. We could see another passage way but it was not very tall. I decided I would get on my knees and crawl a bit to see it was worth our making the effort. I could see where the area ended but it didn't look like there was a room or anything. With Mary Jo's guidance I crawled backward out of the opening. We may have expected more but it was still pretty neat.

    Mary Jo decided we needed to go check out the opening so we did. We found some inscriptions but what impressed us was the changing colors of the rock above our heads. Hopefully the pictures will convey how beautiful it was. And now that we were done playing it was time to head back so off we went at a pretty quick pace :gun: not stopping until the always impressive lava field. There was a wonderful light wind almost the entire way.

    The hill coming up out of the canyon really wasn't too bad as it had some level spots so we made pretty decent time of it I thot. As you are hiking east you get a great view of the lava rocks that you really can't see when heading out on the trail. Mary Jo and I took a side trip to get a closer look. It seems so massive. Across the way is the climber's wall but we didn't see anybody out.

    We stopped at Lake Mary store to get some ice, beer and bacon and a soda for me and gatorade for Wade before our drive back to camp. That evening Stephanie had prepared teriyaki skirt steak fajitas and Mary Jo had prepared a Moscow Mule in a beautiful copper mug:
    A Moscow mule is a buck or mule cocktail made with vodka, ginger beer, and lime served in a copper mug. It became popular during the vodka craze in the United States during the 1950s. The name refers to the popular perception of vodka as a Russian product.
    Still no elk sightings just two of the three pronghorn. The elk jinx continues. I should say "live" jinx since I did see one on the drive to Pine but it was dead :sk: .

    It got cold again so we were in our tents around 9. That's a little early for me so since everyone seemed to have internet access, I grabbed my phone and checked out FB and HAZ for a bit before turning in. Tonite however, I grabbed my sleeping liner and I slept much warmer except I still have that rotisserie motion going on when one side or the other got a little chilly. Every time I turned, the one side of my mouth grinded together and that hurt. It's caused by my fractured tooth I believe.

    The next morning I got up and gathered things to make my way to Pine to meet up with my AZT partners but not before sitting and enjoying coffee at Camp May. Mary Jo and Wade helped me tear down my tent and pack it away. Now how nice is that : app : plus Mary Jo wanted to make sure I had enough food and snacks for my hike. She was even going to make me breakfast but that was way beyond the pale so I politely begged off but look forward to that the next time I come to Camp May.

    Here are some videos:
    Part 1 Pronghorn in the meadow and the first part of the hike toward Fisher's Point via Sandy Canyon -
    Part 2 Hike over to Fisher's Point and back down to cave -
    Part 3 the other caves

    PS forgot to mention that the slash piles Wendy and I had seen on the hike in Sandy's Canyon in June of 2011 looks to have been burned off this year. I took some photos of the aftermath.

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