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Escudilla Trail, AZ

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Guide 108 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Alpine > Alpine N
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 6.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,560 feet
Elevation Gain 1,315 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,666 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.93
Interest Peak
Backpack Possible & Connecting
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13  2018-07-22 DarthStiller
14  2018-06-04 chumley
20  2018-05-10 DixieFlyer
3  2017-09-04 friendofThunderg
22  2017-07-13 Stoic
4  2017-06-18 friendofThunderg
13  2017-06-14 AZWanderingBear
36  2017-05-09
Profanity Ridge & Escudilla LO & Escudilla HP
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 9
Author Randy
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 1 map ( 0 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
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Preferred   Sep, Oct, May, Jun → 10 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:59am - 6:25pm
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2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
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Named place Nearby
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Alpine Beauty!
by Randy

Likely In-Season!
Escudilla Peak is Arizona's third highest mountain, at 10,912 feet above sea level. You can get another 40 feet or so by climbing the fire watch tower at the summit. In Spanish, Escudilla means "Wide Bowl". When you hike up the trail to the summit, or even drive up the approach road, the reason for the name is self-evident. The mountain features a wide bowl like area with several open meadows. To hikers, Escudilla means "This is so great I don't want to go back to the office."

The trailhead is not a good spot to camp. A number of more suitable places exist further down the Terry Flats road. The trailhead has an information sign, a registration log and several warnings about bear safety. The area has a significant black bear population, so all the appropriate safety measures should be addressed. These bears, like those in the Chiricahuas to the south may not be multi-lingual, so if they do not respond to, "Holy S**t, a Bear", try "Hola, Oso Negro!" instead. "Please don't eat me, I'm not kosher" probably will not help as these bears are rarely Jewish. So, avoid open foods such as cheese, bread and those little Vienna Sausages on the trail, and bear bag religiously. This is not a good place to bring those yummy little tins of smoked oysters in oil, especially if you don't have a hot fire to incinerate the odors.

The trail starts at 9600 feet and climbs 1312 feet to the 10,912 foot summit in a little over three miles. The trail condition is pretty good; it used to be a 4x4 road before the area was designated a wilderness. It still shows signs of being a double track in places, but it has reverted enough that it feels like a trail and not one of those annoying roads that we sometimes have to include on our hikes. The route seems a tad longer than the three miles cited by the Forest Service. It is possible that they scaled the distance off a map rather than using a wheel or a pedometer.

The area burned about fifty years ago, and as is usual at such altitudes, much of the burn area is now dominated by a climax Aspen forest. This hike (along with portions of the Hart Prairie road northwest of Flagstaff) is one of the most dramatic fall color places in the state. The rest of the vegetation is primarily fir and Englemann Spruce, with a smattering of oak at the lower levels of the trail. If you look carefully, you can spot bear scratch marks on Aspen trunks in places where game trails cross the route. The last Grizzly Bear in Arizona was killed on Escudilla in 1936. It is a shame that Oso Plateado, the southern or Mexican Grizz is no longer with us. (Edward Abbey says singular is Griz, plural is Grizz. He would have known.) His existence in the Sierra Madre south of the border is in some doubt too, due to the use of poisons there. At least the wolf is back. Some of the reintroduced lobo are in the Escudilla area from time to time.

Just under a mile and a half up the trail, the route crosses Tool Box Meadow, a lovely open clearing. Here, you can start to appreciate the views of the surrounding area. This is a good place to spot elk early in the day or at dusk. At the two mile point, the Government Trail crosses our route. This junction is signed. Beyond this point which is at about 10,500, the modest climb levels a bit and skirts another clearing before approaching the summit. On this trip, we turned back at this point due to an approaching storm. An old iron tower sits on the peak. Climbing it gives a view above the trees. On a clear day, one can see the San Francisco Peaks off to the northwest, Mt. Graham to the southeast, and the Mogollon Mountains and Black Range of the Gila Wilderness Area to the southeast, as well as the Blue Primitive Area directly south. If one had to spend the next twenty years hiking in a 75 mile radius around Escudilla, it would not be a bad thing. You are less than ten miles from the New Mexico line here.

While on the tower, see if you can spot two peaks that look like rabbit ears. They mark the location of the Lost Adams Diggings, the richest gold find ever in North America. The diggings were reportedly somewhere in the Malapai lava flows to the north. Before being attacked by resident Apaches under Chief Nana, the miners dug out nuggets larger than robin's eggs. If you find it, please post the location on HAZ; we can all retire. For interesting historical perspective on the area, two books are recommended: Apache Gold and Yacqui Silver by J. Frank Dobie; and Black Range Tales, by James "Uncle Jimmie" McKenna. McKenna's story of the Lost Adams Diggings was-very loosely- used as the basis for the movie McKenna's Gold which was, for some reason, filmed in Mounument Valley and Canyon De Chelly rather than this area.

When you have to leave (sigh) return by the same route. The return trip is somewhat quicker. None of the route is dramatically steep, which makes for a pleasant family outing. This is an ideal trail for those not up to a Mt. Humphries style challenge but still want a taste of alpine Arizona.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2002-07-25 Randy
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    100 Classic Hikes - 2007

Apache - Sitgreaves FS Details
This 3 mile walk to the top of Arizona's third highest mountain is such an outstanding trail that it has been given recognition by Congress as a National Recreational Trail. The scenery is magnificent, the surroundings are picturesque and the walking is comparatively easy, considering the heights to which you are headed. More of a pleasant stroll than a strenuous climb, this is the trail that the Alpine District recommends to outings groups to when they ask the Forest Service to point out a good day hike.

The climb up Escudilla starts out through an area that was burned by a huge wildfire in 1951. Evidence of the impact of that fire is apparent along the trail in the form of large Douglas fir stumps left from trees that were killed by the blaze. Those blackened snags were later cut in an effort to salvage what wood could be recovered in the aftermath of the fire. The stumps now are being naturally recycled into the forest ecosystem in the shade of a thick growth of aspens which has sprung up in the aftermath of the fire. This area is such an extensive example of natural reclamation that it has been designated a Research Natural Area.

After leaving the first aspen grove, the trail passes through stands of spruce, fir, and more aspen alternating with large open meadows as it continues the climb to the top. Along that climb, various overlooks provide awe-inspiring views of the countryside over which this sky island towers. The first views to the south and west occur about a mile from the trailhead at the top of Tool Box Draw. They're almost as good as those at the top of the mountain. If it's views you're after, you don't even have to walk all the way to the top.

When (and if) you do get to the summit, there's a Forest Service fire tower which offers an even higher vantage point. From the tower (on a clear day) you can see the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff as well as the high peaks and deep canyons of the Blue Primitive Area. The Gila Wilderness, Mt. Graham and the Pinalenos are usually visible to the south.

0.0 Trailhead parking area.
0.1 Enter Escudilla Mountain Wilderness.
0.7 Aspen trees have been cut to increase browse for deer (Wildlife Habitat Improvement Project).
1.3 Tool Box Meadow-panoramic views.
1.9 Junction Government Trail.
2.8 Spur trail to left, continue right on old roadbed.
2.9 Spur trail on right leads to Bead Springs Meadow (no camping).
3.0 Escudilla Lookout

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 31 deeper Triplog Reviews
Escudilla Trail
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Beautiful day for a hike! Back in PHX it's 100+, here maybe 70. Anyways, used a combination of the directions on this site and Google maps to find the trailhead. The forest road is well maintained and a passenger car could handle. Passed by a small lake on the way in and about a half dozen anglers. Those were the last people I saw all day. The trail is well marked -- and clear. The forest service has obviously worked extremely hard in clearing all of the deadfall. I think I only had to step over one small tree the whole way. The first mile or so of the trail is great, lots of Aspens.. after that you reach the burn area. In its own way is very beautiful and the views are amazing in all directions. The trail is easy to follow, a very gradual climb with a couple of descents on the way. I stopped at the tower which was 3 miles in. They have put a very large fence around the tower, so I stayed outside. I chose not to continue on the gps trail to the true summit. 1) no trail and 2) so many downed trees/debris.. it would have been a very long crawl fo me :(
Escudilla Trail
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After spending four days backpacking in the Pecos Wilderness, we started our return to Phoenix & car camped in the Gila National Forest near the town of Luna.

We woke on Monday & packed up & drove over to Escudilla & started hiking soon after. The trail follows an old road as it makes a steady climb. We encountered a lot of deadfall & this slowed us down as we climbed over & around.

We continued on & headed for the lookout tower. With much effort we reached the tower & took a short break to admire the views & eat some lunch. From there we packed up & started out return. The return went well as once again we worked our way over & around more deadfall. We arrived back at the TH a little before noon. Once there we packed up & headed back to Phoenix.

Escudilla was a nice hike but I don’t recommend it until after the forest service has a chance to clear the deadfall.
Escudilla Trail
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Crossing hikes off my list...for some reason I hadn't done this one before. It would have been nice to see it before the 2011 Wallow Fire. :( It turned out to be a lot nicer of a hike than I was expecting. The lower mountain has very nice aspen growth and shade, and the views on the climb are outstanding. The summit has the most severe burn, but the aspen are starting to grow again there too.

It looks as if the trail has been cleared one time, perhaps a couple of years ago. Since then, there has been ample new deadfall, especially on the top of the mountain. It added a bit of a challenge, but wasn't nearly as bad as it could be. Still, it would take a crew with hand saws (it's wilderness) a few days to get it fully cleared again. Hopefully that happens sometime this summer or next.
Escudilla Trail
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Tracie, my intrepid hiking partner, decided to make our first ever hike up to the summit of Escudilla Mountain. At one time this was supposedly one of the most scenic hikes in Arizona, but sadly the Wallow Fire of 2011 devasted this area. At the lower elevations of the hike, the aspens are coming back, and their leaves would no doubt look nice in the fall. However, many of the ponderosa pine forests that burned will probably take decades to come back.

There were a fair number of fallen trees that you have to deal with on this hike on your way to the Fire Tower that is atop Escudilla; however, it is no worse than going up the West Baldy trail. However, if you want to go the summit of Escudilla from the fire tower, it is a real slog dealing with all of the deadfall.

On the way up the mountain, we saw 7 elk in a field. On the way back down we saw 5 animals running in a field, but they were far away and I could not tell if they were deer or elk.

It was cool to hike up to the summit of Arizona's 3rd highest mountain, but with all of the fire damage this is not a hike that I will often do, at least not for a few years.
Escudilla Trail
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The Blue Range was feeling a little toasty and we were looking for a little relief after two pretty rugged days of hiking, so I suggested we relocate to

We camped in my "usual" spot and hit the trail early the next day. Similar to last year, we caught the trail at the right time, as it had been cleared just days before and as a result we did not encounter as much as one log across the trail. The elk are still plentiful in the area and the recovery process seems to be well on its way in spots. The dogs naturally loved the trail and Jackie was a big fan of this easy walk up peak as well. The gentle grade and freshly cleared trail led to a pretty quick, but leisurely hike up and down. We only saw one other person the trail and finished just a few minutes before nine in the morning.
Escudilla Trail
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The White Mountains never disappoint. We hiked Escudilla on the 3rd day of a 5-day camping/hiking trip to enjoy the cool of the high country. We established a base camp near the trailhead the afternoon before, close enough to road walk from camp to the start of the trail. Our camp was at 9744' making for a cool night with some great star gazing.

After some coffee and a light breakfast, we headed up the road. Just a hundred feet away from camp in the middle of the road was a nice fresh pile of Mexican Gray Wolf scat, looked to be less than a couple hours old. We had been told there was a thriving pack in the area. Would have been nice to see or hear them, but that didn't happen.

A Forest Service truck was parked at the TH. The beginning of the trail is a gentle climb and shaded. We hit some of the burn areas off and on. The trail was well maintained and we noticed some rather fresh cuts on some deadfall. About a mile in the trail gets steeper and we were definitely feeling the elevation.

After crossing the second meadow, we ran into two Forest Service guys ahead working on clearing deadfall off the trail. Since this is a wilderness area, no chainsaws allowed. They were working a particularly nasty jumble of downed trees, but stopped to chat a bit, warning us the entire reaming upper portion of the trail had not been cleared. We were close to .9 miles from the tower. We thanked them for what they were doing and pressed on. We climbed over, scooted under, and detoured around hundreds and hundreds of downed burned trees. There wasn't never more than a 30' section of trail free of deadfall. The winter had certainly brought down a lot of dead snags. It was slow going with ample opportunities to hurt yourself.

Close to the burned out tower we came across 3 more Forest Service folks, two guys and a girl, also working to clear the trail. We said hi and moved on up to the tower to enjoy the views and a snack.

When we headed back down the girl stopped us and asked if we had seen anyone on the way up. I said yes, two guys doing what you are doing. She was not happy they were down there and she was up here since one of them had the second handle of her two-person crosscut saw, rendering it useless. Immediately my mind flashed to the scene from Cool Hand Luke "what we have here is a failure to communicate." We offered to relay the message on the way down. Scrambling down was only marginally better than scrambling up. The message got passed and eventually the trail will be clear again thanks to the hard work they were doing.

Would have loved to done this hike before the Wallow Fire, but the trail still passes through some great aspen groves and offers fantastic views from atop Arizona's 3rd highest mountain. That evening we had a great view from our cap of hundreds of elk grazing the large meadow of Terry Flat. The White Mountains never disappoint.
Escudilla Trail
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Hiked from trailhead to the meadow in the saddle before the final climb to the lookout tower. Pretty much a total fire loss from this point on. Not all that pretty. The lower trail is still very pleasant and full of young aspen that is now over 10 feet tall. Escudilla is making its comeback, but still has a long way to go.
Escudilla Trail
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After four days in the Blue Range with Mr. Blanco, we were ready for a change of pace. I decided on Escudilla, as it offered a chance for some slightly cooler temperatures, a new wilderness and a new peak. Escudilla had always been on my radar, but I had never committed to making a stop there on the way to, or from the Blue Range. However, on this occasion it seemed like the perfect way to end our trip. Route Scout continues to impress me and proved a very worthy app. once again, as with the first hint of 3G, I was able to download the route, read the description and then get driving directions to the TH.

I took the suggestion from the hike description's author and found us a very nice campsite not more than a mile or so from the trailhead. I watched an amazing sunset with Blanco over one of Escudilla's many large meadows, cooked some dinner and prepped a small pack for the next day's hike and the crashed to some great sleeping weather.

We got a nice early start, as is the norm with me and were on the trail hiking by about a quarter after five. The first mile of the trail is fantastic, as it takes you through a very nice stand of Aspen. The next mile is defined by Escudilla's very large meadows, or "bowls." The early morning views from here were great and there were some nice size herds of elk grazing, as we made our way by. The final mile is match stick alley and the devastation from the last major fire is clear. However, the trail was entirely free of deadfall, due to what looked like some relatively recent trail work. In fact, someone noted on June 6 that the trail had been cleared of deadfall. The register was full of comments about deadfall misery and downed trees galore up until the June 6 entry claiming the tail had been cleared. Score! Not only had I finally checked Escudilla off my list, but I seemed to have did it at the perfect time! Meanwhile, Blanco could have cared less about the cleared trail and was dedicating most of his energy to the large herds of elk we kept passing on the way up. At one point he got so mixed up with the elk, I though he was going to get trampled by some large bulls, but he seemed to know when it was the right time to call off the chase.

As expected, we had the summit to ourselves. The tower is fenced off, but the fencers conveniently left a small break in the fence large enough for most people, if that is your thing. After a short stay on the summit and maybe an IG post, we were off. Just after leaving the summit we ran into two hikers, the first we had seen after four days and somewhere around 60 miles of hiking and backpacking, can't beat that! The route down was fast and uneventful and even with really taking our time, we completed the entire hike in less than three hours.
Escudilla Trail
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Along with my son, sister, and nephew, we left the others at camp and headed out towards Escudilla Trail. Started our hike around 7am and reached the peak a little short of 2 hours later. Wildflowers everywhere and the young apsen (post Wallow fire) are coming in thick. Still, hate to see all the dead burnt trees cluttering up the scene. What a waste of good lumber.

Gonna be a long time before Escudilla regains the beauty it was once know for. I'm hoping in another 30-40 years I will be healthy enough to get one more last look at the new aspen in all their golden autumn glory. Barring anymore of these out of control wildfire disasters, future generations will again enjoy the best of what Escudilla has to offer. We had a good time and enjoyed the views, so I guess you could say nature is already at work repairing its wounds.

Came across an open meadow that was covered in purple lupines. Plenty of other wildflowers along the trail, but nothing that I would describe as Substantial or Extreme.
Escudilla Trail
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First trip of the season to Nutrioso. Took me a couple days to get acclimated to the elevation. Felt exhausted all day on the first day. Second day, felt a little better, but still low energy. Day three was go time. I wanted to get at least one elevation hike in before Etna in two weeks. Etna and Escudilla are very close in elevation at right around 3300 meters.

Left camp at 5am and was on the trail at 5:35. 70 minutes from the trailhead to the "out-of-commission" lookout tower. Enjoyed the views from up top before heading back down. Saw 5 elk along the way. A large elk is anything but quiet and graceful when spooked. Wow, what a racket they make as they lumber down the mountain through the woods.

Wrapped up the hike at 7:50 and made it back to camp in time for breakfast.

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
To reach Escudilla, drive south from the adjacent towns of Eager and Springerville on Highway 191 about 22 miles. Or, if you are coming from the south, the junction is about 5.5 miles north of Alpine. You will see Escudilla well in advance, it is the lone solitary massif east of US 191. There is a Forest Service Sign marking FS Road 56, the route to Terry Flats on the mountain. This sign, and the turn is easy to miss. The sign is on the east side of the road, more noticeable to northbound traffic than to southbound motorists. The Terry Flats road is gravel and can be handled easily with a passenger car. About 3.6 miles up this road a turnoff to Escudilla trailhead veers off to the left. From here it is just under half a mile to the trailhead.

2007-06-14 Grasshopper writes: Clarification for TH Driving Directions to Escudilla Trail, AZ's 3rd Highest Peak: On Hwy#191 at MM 420.9, turn East on FR8056 (raod not not signed until after turn), continue ~4.5mls on FR8056 toward Terry Flats, then go left at the "Y" in the road for ~.25mls to the TH parking on the Right Side; As of this writing, this well maintained gravel road to the TH is OK for most passenger cars

2012-06-04 cindyl writes: since the wallow fire, the culverts have all been taken out and replaced with big trenches. i wouldn't recommend a passenger car, but high clearance is good. no 4x4 is necessary.
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