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Coconino National Forest
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions Aug 14th to TBD
Bob's Death March
The name of this mountain has been argued through legends. One story says that troops in 1873 from Camp Verde fought Indians here, killing an Apache woman and taking her baby with them to the fort. This coincides with the story of Saxton Seth Acker, called "Boss" Acker, who moved to this place in 1884. His story was that a young Apache girl came along with the troops from Camp Verde in 1874, so it the mountain was named after her. Another version says that emigrants to the region sent a scout ahead to send up smoke signals when he had found a route. When the fire was started it attracted a lost and starving young Apache girl who was adopted by one of the travelers. In 1908 the Forest Service proposed changing the name to Bronco Mountain, but was unsuccessful.
Data is listed as one-way. The 30mi day-hike summary below is rarely done and tags on the additional 2mi access via the Bell Trail.
This hike is a doozy. The first known victims of this hike were Bob, Denny, Wally, Stefan and myself (Jim) We initially believed this hike to be 13 miles total, but as Wally points out in his triplog the Apache Maid Trail is 13 miles each way, and one has to hike 2 miles along the historic Bell Trail to reach its beginning. This hike starts at the Bell Trailhead a mile or so off of Interstate 17 and goes to the summit of Apache Maid Mountain.
The first 2 miles are an easy amble along the north side of Wet Beaver Creek on the historic Bell Trail. This area has been inhabited for humans for quite a long time. The Sinagua Indians have left behind a few relics, and area rancher Charlie Bell constructed his namesake trail in the 1930s to move cattle up to the Mogollon Rim and back. The scenery is typical central Arizona canyon bottom.
Apache Maid Trail
After about 2 miles the Bell Trail reaches a junction with the Apache Maid Trail on the north side of the canyon. While the initial portion of the Apache Maid Trail is uphill, it isn't too difficult. After about 2 miles this section reaches the top of the Mogollon Rim. The route begins to wind roughly east through an open expanse of junipers and grass. It would be very easy to get lost were it not for the cairns. I had never seen this type of cairns before. They consist of chain-link fencing wrapped into a cylinder, and filled with rocks. The trail gradually goes up and down through this rangeland until it branches off to the left. Wally, Stefan and I initially missed it so be careful. The next portion was my least-favorite because it was fairly steep and the footing was loose. The trail tops out again onto another bench of the Mogollon Rim, and the scenery improves dramatically. There are great views to the north of the Sedona Area and the southern Coconino Plateau. To the south there is a very scenic small canyon. Additionally this marks the first time Apache Maid Mountain is visible in the distance.
This area is similar to what's below the rocky uphill section, but the junipers are bigger and there are a few ponderosa pines growing in clusters. The trail in this area is closer to being a jeep trail, and the area is frequently used by people on ATVs. The trail gradually begins to go uphill, and you soon reach the junction with the dirt road to the top of Apache Maid Mountain. There is a small parking area here for sane people who came in from the Stoneman Lake area to the north. The trail to the top of Apache Maid Mountain offers stunning scenery in all directions. There are views of the San Francisco Peaks and Mormon Mountain to the north, Buckhorn Mountain to the south, Hutch Mountain to the northeast, Mingus Mountain to the west, and Wilson Mountain/Sedona area to the northwest. There were a couple hundred head of cattle grazing on the bottom of the east side of the mountain, and this entire area appears to be extensively grazed.
The rest of the way to the top of Apache Maid Mountain isn't tough in and of itself, but it is very difficult for some of us after 13 miles. There were some of the most spectacular agaves that I had ever seen. We encountered a lot of ATVs on the way to the top so be aware. They were courteous, but I could see a hiker getting into trouble if he were listening to an iPod with an ATV barreling around one of the many corners in this section. A little bit of research tells me that this stretch is very popular for ATVs.
On top there is a fire lookout tire (seemingly unoccupied on July 3, 2009) and at least one picnic bench. There might have been another, but I was somewhat delirious at this point. We ate lunch towards the top of the tower because that was the only place we could find that had enough of a breeze to keep the insects down. Stefan was kind enough to torture us by bringing tortellini he had cooked up the night before. Another indication of this summit's popularity is that the Forest Service has installed a toilet.
We bushwhacked down the mountain to shave off about 2 miles, and at that point I realized that we were in for a long one. We went back the way we came, and the highlights were a very large jackrabbit, Bob using his awesome water filter, lots and lots of swarming and biting insects (those little buggers actually helped keep me going because every time I stopped they were all over me), and surviving.
This hike is most certainly NOT recommended, and should only be attempted by people who are in superb shape. However, I think the area around Apache Maid Mountain itself looks to be excellent mountain bike country. Oh, and never wear a bathing suit for a 30 mile hike. I'll never forget the unpleasant results of my unfortunate decision in that regard!
Please see BobP's GPS Route if you're sado masochistic enough to consider this hike.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
Coconino FS Details
The Apache Maid Trail skirts the rim of Wet Beaver Creek Canyon, one of the scenic red rock gorges that cut the southern rim of the Colorado Plateau. The trail starts at the mouth of the canyon and continues up this picturesque drainage, offering glimpses of the clear, cool stream, until it branches off from the Bell Trail to climb the canyon's north wall. Once atop the basalt flows that form a caprock in this area, the Apache Maid Trail winds along primitive jeep tracks across the grassy, juniper flats. From the trail, the canyon appears off to your right as an eroded rift in the ancient lava flow.
Some choose to hike just a part of this trail, enjoying overlooks of the canyon and a panorama that includes Casner Butte and the San Francisco Peaks. Others arrange a car-shuttle and continue all the way to trail's end near the lookout tower on Apache Maid Mountain.
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.