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Abineau Bear Jaw Loop, AZ

no permit
1k 138 6
Guide 138 Triplogs  6 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Flagstaff > Flagstaff NW
4.1 of 5 by 63
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Loop 7.35 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,532 feet
Elevation Gain 1,785 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,937 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4-5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 17.04
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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25  2019-08-15 nancyesan
9  2019-08-10 LindaAnn
30  2019-06-15 Naferg323
12  2019-06-15 caragruey
12  2019-05-25 BiFrost
21  2018-09-29
Abineau-Bear Jaw Loop plus Rees Peak
27  2018-08-24 DixieFlyer
12  2018-08-12 Mick
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Author Misubri
author avatar Guides 2
Routes 0
Photos 193
Trips 4 map ( 20 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, Sep, Oct → 8 AM
Seasons   Summer to Early Autumn
Sun  6:11am - 6:31pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
by Misubri

Likely In-Season!
This loop trail is about the closest thing I have seen in AZ that resembles the Colorado Rockies. You start the trail in Ponderosa pines, but end in Douglas firs with Aspens all the way. You will also notice that the Aspens in the lower elevations are very white, but as you gain in elevation the bark goes from light green to khaki.

The trail starts from the end of a parking loop, which has more than enough space for the few people that seem to use this trail. The route is always well define and maintained. After you go a short distance you come to a trail marker with a register. The trail signs indicate Bear Jaw Trail to the left and Abineau to the right. Considering that your goal is to reach the highest point that passes a meadow looking up at Humphrey's Peak, you can go right on the Abineau trail which is shorter, but is also much steeper. Or you can go left, up the Bear Jaw trail that is longer but the ascent is more gradual. I when the to the left and came back using the Abineau trail. Doing this on Memorial Day there were just a few patches of snow. I crossed a small snow field at the meadow, but returning on the Abineau trail was a bit risky because with the steep decline in places and being covered in ice and snow made it slippery.

The only disappointing thing on the whole trail was that on that day the air pollution was extremely bad. So visibility, looking out to the horizon was very limited. But besides that, I would put this trail in my top 10.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Lightning Kills
Stay off the mountain when thunderstorms are forecasted. July and August are notorious for quick unexpected storms. Lower the risk by being OFF the mountain before 11am on a clear morning. Stay safe, read the NOLS Backcountry Lightning Safety Guidelines.

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

2003-05-31 Misubri
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Coconino FS Details
From the Abineau and Bear Jaw trails, on the north slope of the San Francisco Peaks, you can see all the way to the Grand Canyon ninety miles away. These two trails provide a scenic loop hike through forested canyons. Both lead to an old road that runs along the base of a long talus slope topped by Arizona's highest point, the summit of Humphreys Peak. The climb along either trail is steep and steady through stands of mixed conifer and aspens. The road completes the loop by providing a connecting route from the top of one trail to the top of the other. From this high perspective the Grand Canyon appears as an wide gap in a broad plateau that stretches from the foot of the mountain to the horizon.

This route passes through an area that is colorful at all seasons of the year. In late Spring, alpine wildflowers such as lupine, rocky mountain iris, penstemon and paintbrush color the trailside meadows. Sunflowers add a slash of yellow in Summer and groves of aspen paint the slopes with crimson and gold during the Fall.

There is a chance to see a black bear here-perhaps the best chance you'll have in the area around the Peaks. Seeing sign of these big shy animals along either trail is not uncommon. Mule deer and elk are also plentiful. Common birds are juncos, Steller's jays and Clark's nutcrackers. In Spring and early Summer the forest's best singer, the hermit thrush, will serenade you along your way.

Click to View Forest Service Map

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 24 deeper Triplog Reviews
Abineau Bear Jaw Loop
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First step to enjoying this hike is finding the trailhead: turn right off northbound Hwy 180 (Fort Valley Rd} onto FR151. We discovered that FR151 runs mostly north-south and crosses 180 in two places. The one you want is the north end which is a little north of mile marker 235. After 1.7 miles bear left onto FR418, continue for 3 miles and watch for a wooden sign on the right indicating the turn to the Abineau Bear Jaw trailhead. Shortly after turning there will be a sign that the road is 9123J. Take it all the way to the end to find the trailhead. The dirt roads from 180 are generally pretty good for regular cars, but those with low clearance will have to navigate through some rough spots which have either potholes or rocks.

There is no restroom or water at the trailhead, which is at about 8530 ft. elev. There was only one other hiker there with her dog, hiking the Abineau trail only. On a day when Phoenix hit a high of 114 degrees, the temperature here probably didn't exceed 80. We picked a day with no chance of rain for the area because we have experienced thunder and lightning on these mountains and never want to again. The round trip distance of the loop is supposed to be 6.8 miles according to the Coconino NF description, but that must be from the sign-in box which is where the trails split. Our GPS said 7.7 miles from the parking lot with an accumulated gain of about 1850 ft.
We decided to go up the steeper Abineau and down the Bear Jaw because we feel it is easier going up a steep slope than down it. Both trails are mostly in the wilderness which means they are generally not maintained. We were surprised to find the first 2/3 of the Abineau relatively wide, shady, and easy to hike, and it looked like someone had improved it. The last 1/3 was steeper and narrower with some pretty big steps, but well constructed. While there were wildflowers all along the trail, the upper 1/3 had an amazingly dense display of beautiful, dazzling colors, especially where many trees had fallen and opened up the area to sunshine. These clearings also provided views of Humphreys Peak and adjacent ridge line. With all these photo ops we had a good excuse to stop and catch our breath in the thin air and strenuous climb.
The high point of the hike is where the Abineau ends and you find yourself on the broad, open, high end of Pipeline Rd. We spent some time taking in the gorgeous views in all directions, and wondering how hard it would be to climb Humphreys from there. We had a pretty clear view north where you are supposed to see the Grand Canyon, but some haze made it hard to distinguish. The Pipeline Rd has an easy downward slope with steep forested hillsides on both sides. Fallen rocks and downed trees provide minor obstacles. In many places you can see the steel pipe in the road.

The road continues down to the Inner Basin, so watch on the left for the trail sign for the Bear Jaw which is narrow, steep and with loose rock at the start. We could now see why the other hiker preferred to go back down on the Abineau. As we descended it got less steep and the footing improved some, but there were several large trees to climb over and spots with somewhat difficult footing. Most of it was in shady forest but some of the lowest area was sunny and grassy. The last stretch near the loop juncture is uphill.

This loop is a great way to spend a summer day. Going up the Abineau was the best part. The Bear Jaw is a good trail also but not as scenic as the Abineau. We didn't see any bear or elk, but we did see a deer driving in and another on the way out. My husband is an amateur botanist and found a few plant species he hasn't seen before. Take a look at some of his excellent pictures.

"f" indicates frequent

Yellow Salsify
Common Dandelion
Groundsel - f
Chaparral Fleabane
Western Yarrow
Wheeler Thistle
Wild Geranium
Dalmation Toadflax
Paintbrush - f
Aspen Fleabane - f
Blue tbd.?
Wild Chrysanthemum - f
Blue Flax
Parry’s Thistle
Flagstaff Beardtongue
Common Mullein
Purple Locoweed
Mountain Parsley
Richardson’s Geranium - very f
Beardlip Penstemon
Yellow Columbine - f
Little Yellow tbd.?
Slender rays orange discs tbd?
Western Sneezeweed - f
Narrow Y Petals big leaves tbd.?
Small Y Flower tbd.?
Wild Bergamot - f - higher up
Large Flower Bricklebush
Dark Beardtongue
Franciscan Bluebells
Small DYC tbd.1601
Bearberry Honeysuckle
Cinquefoil - f
Blue tbd.?
Deer’s Ears - f - higher up
Arizona Pea
Yellow Sneezeweed
American Vetch
Wright’s Deervetch
Abineau Bear Jaw Loop
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This loops is a real gem in my opinion. I would honestly put it up there with some of the better hikes in Arizona and in terms of the Kachina Wilderness, its somewhat off the radar reputation and lack of crowds, probably makes it one of the better hiking options on the Peaks as well.

Gorgeous hiking conditions all day and big clouds. I don't know if it is the elevation, but the initial climb always hits me a little on this one, but other than that and the steep descent, you can't beat the trail conditions on this loop. Its a shame that we are in full fire ban mode, before the aspens have even gotten their leaves, but alas I feel this will be the new norm for us in AZ and the entire southwest. But hey let's keep rolling back those environmental regs and ignoring science in the name of corporate interests and profits, no since trying to slow it down, we will all be dead before it matters anyways. It was nice to get a hike knocked out in this area before the first dry lightning strike turns the Peaks and the surrounding forest into matchsticks.

Abineau Bear Jaw Loop
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Bear Jaw Rees Abineau loop
Matt and I headed up to retry our trip from last year that got interrupted with thunder and snow.

The aspens were a patchwork of perfect and absolutely gone with not much in between. I'd guess that there was a freeze early in the turning cycle and those leaves that had begun were stripped bare in subsequent wind storms. Those that hadn't begun before the freeze were in their prime colors.

The lower portion of Bear Jaw was ok, but once getting above Bear Jaw Canyon and all along the Wateline, it was mostly bare. We headed up to Rees, and I got a reminder of how steep this one gets. The weather was calm and perfect as we dropped down to the saddle to set up camp. A few side trips for evening sunset, moonrise an hour later, and sunrise the next morning completed the photoshoot before packing up camp and heading down via a new route (to me) staying just to the west of the bottom of Rees Canyon. I liked this route!

Once back on the Waterline we headed uphill to Abineau where I checked to see if the Abineau Spring Box was open so I could preemptively answer DA3's near-certain question about it: no.

The top of Abineau always sucks, but the bottom part was the gem. Still plenty of aspen in full color as well as a yellow brick road of litter along the trail. It was nice to see outdoorlover as well, who was on her way up.

On the drive out I took the west loop around the peaks wondering if the colors there had suffered the same freeze, and they had. There were pockets of perfection, but still quite a bit of drab bare trunks. Still one of my favorites, and a great night along the crown!

A freeze and high winds over the past couple of weeks have left a lot of the aspen bare. If they hadn't started their turn before the freeze they were in prime color, especially on the lower Abineau trail.
Abineau Bear Jaw Loop
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A final hike with the pups and Jackie before I make what is becoming my annual summer exodus from Arizona. A fair amount of hikers out, but nothing overwhelming. The trails in the loop were all in pretty good shape, with only a little deadfall to contend with on Bear Jaw. The highlight of this loop is still the top of Abineau in my opinion, a great little area. We did some further exploring around here and took an extended break to allow the pups to play in the snow. We ran into a guy taking a break in the same area, he recognized the dogs and had been following our hikes for a few years on HAZ, so we chatted it up some there and then again at the trailhead. A good final hike with the pups, I am going to miss them, Montana bound first thing tomorrow morning.
Abineau Bear Jaw Loop
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It doesn't look like anyone has recently written up a trip log on this beautiful loop hike beneath the north slopes of Humphrey's Peak. I did the loop in a clockwise direction which means you go up the Bear Jaw Trail and down the Abineau. I thought going up Bear Jaw was tough enough - not sure I would even want to tackle going up the Abineau. It was one of those days when it was projected to be in the high teens temperature-wise in Phoenix and I had a reason to be in Flagstaff so decided to take in a nice hike. I was totally rewarded. Temp at start was maybe in the low 80's. Still not bad considering the alternatives in AZ this time of year. I encountered only four other hikers after starting my hike around 2pm. I even had to cross a field of snow at one point on the trail plus some thunder and brief showers that cooled the air into the low 60's at completion. I agree with everyone that this could be one of the top hikes in AZ for a view, trees, cool weather and challenging while not a killing hike. The sign-in book at the point in the trail where the Bear Jaw and Abineau trails intersect showed a lot of activity each day, so clearly this is a popular hike and every reason to be so. I love Arizona!
Abineau Bear Jaw Loop
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Would I do this hike again? Every day? Yes.

This is simply probably my favorite hike that I have done in Arizona. It's close with the Kachina Trail but this trail is a bit more difficult and more sustained climbing.

My trip got off to an inauspicious start as I realized I had forgotten my hat. I haven't hiked without a hat or something on my head in a VERY long time. I was bummed but it turned out OK.

FR 151 and FR 418 are actually pretty good roads. My SUV made it just fine and even I didn't worry... :y:

When I got to the Trailhead it was 37 degrees. When I arrived home it was 97 degrees. Yikes.

Back to the hike... I chose to go up Bear Jaw first and then to descend Abineau. Although I say that I wouldn't have wanted to ascend Abineau, next time I might do it just for the challenge as it is MUCH steeper.

I marveled at the views along the higher parts of the trail and the aspens are not at peak but probably middle peak, maybe. I saw one hunter and there was one other vehicle at the TH which I believe may have been a fellow HAZ'er Preston Mc.

I got back to the TH, took my pants off, switched to shorts and readied for my next adventure about 2 miles down the road...
Abineau Bear Jaw Loop
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Denny and I met up over on 89 and we went in my Jeep to the trailhead. From that direction there are a few short 4WD sections, but it was fun, because I had never gone in from 89 before, only from 180. But when we got to the trailhead my Jeep was shifting funny. But it was 6 a.m., nothing to do but go hike. So we did.

And a very nice hike it was. Saw a lot of mule deer does on the way in, and a few on the hike as well. It was a good workout for me, since I have been trying to get back to doing some higher altitude hikes, which hasn't been particularly easy this go-around. But I did okay, just had to stop to breathe more often than Denny did.

We got to chatting on the Waterline Trail section, and walked right by the sign for the Abineau Trail.

Back at the Jeep, it wouldn't go into gear for me at all. It's a manual transmission. Clutch seemed to be the problem. Denny walked 9 miles back to 89, while I caught a ride to Flagstaff to my daughter's office. I borrowed her car. I called Good Sam to see if I needed to get the vehicle to the pavement before they would tow it. Well, yes, I did. I contacted my friend who owns a river outfitting business. He and I drove out 180 to the trailhead in one of his vans, taking a tow strap with us. He said, "How about I try to see if I can get it to drive?" I said "Sure." So, he was able to get it into gear, (he could get it into 1st and 3rd) and I followed him in the van. I thought we would stop when we got to pavement, but no, he turned onto 180. I thought we would stop when we got to the outskirts of Flag, but no, he kept going. He made it all the way across Flagstaff, using Cedar and Lockett Sts., and hit only ONE red light. He managed to coast slowly toward it, and never actually had to stop. If you spend any time in Flag you know that making it across town without having to stop is nigh impossible. Brady did the impossible. His friend owns a tranny business, and Mr. Jeep is now safely there. I'm hoping it is only some sort of clutch linkage, rather than clutch itself. Cheaper.

So, thanks Denny, for a fun hike! Hope we can go again sometime! Sorry you had to walk back 9 miles, but I bet you saw a lot more deer! (Maybe you should drive next time, haha!)

One thing I notice from my GPS data is that we stopped a total of only 11 minutes during the hike. This must be some sort of record low for me, if you look at my solo triplogs, I spend a lot of time stopping!
Abineau Bear Jaw Loop
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This was meant to be a stretch of the legs before my real hike tomorrow. I was the first one signed in on this nice, cool morning, and I didn't see anyone else until a couple miles from the end.

I went up Abineau, which I think was a good choice, although there was a ferocious wind in my face for the last 1/3 of the ascent. It blew me off my footing a couple times, even with poles. The Bear Jaw descent was fast and pleasant. It was starting to warm up at the bottom.

Added: I forgot to mention, I used HAZ Tracks for this trip. It worked pretty well once I got to the trailhead. Also, I was tempted to take the road around to the Inner Basin, but I figured the return would make it too long of a day.

Some lupine and isolated columbine. Blueberries are developing nicely near the top, but other berries aren't as far along.
Abineau Bear Jaw Loop
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After our Red Mountain hike, I dropped Claire off at the Nordic Center for an event she was attending. I decided to head over to check out this loop. I arrived at the trailhead right around 4pm. I was a little concerned about having enough day light for this so I really pushed myself up the Abineau Trail. The going starts out relatively easy but is challenging as the trail gains elevation. This trail keeps climbing and climbing and I hit some snow just below the intersection with the road portion of the hike. This section takes a pounding during the winter.

Once on the road I cruised toward the Bear Jaw portion. I stopped for a quick snack about halfway down the road. From there I hit the Bear Jaw Trail and cruised down and returned to the jeep. It turned out I had plenty of day light to complete this loop. This was a really enjoyable hike with some nice views along the way.
Abineau Bear Jaw Loop
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Though the aspens are begging to change its still too early for much Fall color. The views from upper Abineau are spectacular as you can see the south rim of the grand canyon and a slew of volcanos near the base of the mountain. Its a straight up hike and is more difficult when your completely covered by tree stands for most of the accent. Supposedly some of the Aspens on Bear Jaw turn Red so when they do change I would recommend this hike. Probably beginning of October as this area usually changes color sooner then the rest of the aspens in this area.
I would recommend starting the loop with the Abineau trail 1st unless you like steep declines.
BTW Kendrik Mtn is exploding with color on its north face right now.

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Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To Abineau Trailhead
From Flagstaff, head north on SR 180. Follow about twenty miles to the second turnoff for FR151 at mile marker 235.2 FR151 is Hart Prairie Road. This is a great loop to drive in the autumn. You can see aspen leaves turn golden yellow alongside the road. Anyhow back to task, follow FR151 just over a mile and a half. Take a left on FR418. Follow just over three miles to FR9123J. Turn right onto FR9123J and follow just over a half mile to the trailhead. The parking is area is large. There is a small walk to the trail signage, but it's within view. On the drive in I noticed several homes along the way, must be nice!

Misubri writes: From Flagstaff go north on US Highway 180 for approximately 18 miles. Turn right on Forest Rd. 151 (well maintained). Then continue 1.6 miles and turn left on Forest Rd. 418. Drive 3.1 miles to the signed turnoff for Abineau Trail. Turn right and go .3 miles to the trailhead.

You can also reach the trail head by going north on US Highway 89 and instead of turning right into Sunset Crater National Monument, turn left to come to Forest Rd. 418. Then it is about 8 miles to the trailhead.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 174 mi, 3 hours 6 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 279 mi, 4 hours 46 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 26.7 mi, 45 mins
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