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Subalpine Symphony of Life
On September 18th, 1944, a B-17 crashed in the head of Bear Jaw Canyon just three days after the Humphreys B-24 Bomber Crash. Four or five WWII military planes crashed into the San Francisco Mountains killing at least two dozen men in total. NAU math instructor Bob Packard visited the B-17 site in 1974.
Bear Jaw Trail #26 begins about 0.4-miles up Abineau Trail #127. Tread is typically fantastic. The grade is moderate-steep, and I would say easier than #127.
The 2.25-mile trail is loaded with Quaking Aspens that bring instant joy to desert dwellers. Engelmann spruce and Douglas-firs keep the trail cozy.
Some of the Aspen artwork is by shepherds that grazed sheep.
When you seemingly unexpectedly reach Waterline Road (FR 146) either return as an out-n-back or continue right to complete Abineau - Bear Jaw Loop in reverse.
Left on Waterline Road
2.75-mi / -190-ft intersects Inner Basin Trail #29 @ 2mi up the 4.25mi trail.
12-mi / -1,700-ft takes you to Shultz Pass Road. Weatherford Trail #102 begins just over 0.1-mi further.
This and other trails are over a half-mile through the steep, rugged off-trail forest to the wreckage. Off-trail in the Senecio Protection Area is only legal with snowpack to protect San Francisco Peaks groundsel. Keep in mind the wreckage is within the wilderness, government property is federally protected. Wreckage is not a trophy. Be respectful if encountered anywhere. When lives have been lost, posing with wreckage is disrespectful.
Bear Jaw Trail #26 is a gem but looping with Abineau is the prime choice. Upper Abineau Trail #127 has outstanding distant views. Yet, Bear Jaw might be the better of the two in Autumn foliage based on the abundance of Aspens!
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
Coconino FS Details
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 signs 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.
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.