Thru-hike NOBO planning

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Thru-hike NOBO planning

Post by Tashi » Oct 27 2017 9:36 am


I am planning spring 2018 NOBO thru-hike. I am from Canada and don't know Arizona hiking conditions at all. I am an experienced hiker/backpacker but not used to desert hiking! I am reading all the information I can at the moment and from what I am reading it seems that a early February start might be a bit too early. I don't mind cold night and a bit of lingering snow but ideally I would prefer a 90% snow free route. Would a March 1 ish start date be more suitable? or even March 15th? I am flexible in my dates so I am trying to get optimal weather no snow and as cool days as possible.

Thanks a lot

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Re: Thru-hike NOBO planning

Post by DallinW » Oct 27 2017 10:07 am


March 15th is probably going to be your best bet for missing the bulk of the snow if you need a solid unchanging date. March 1st could work, but it is totally dependent on the intensity of the previous winter. The southern half of the trail may have lingering snow at the higher elevations during this time (Huachucas, Rincons, Lemmon), but it is usually a crap shoot as to how much. You can usually be up and over these spots in less than a day though.

Once you get above the Mogollon Rim you could be dealing with snow for a while if you hit it too early. Even more so at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Where there is likely to be snow on the trail north of the Mogollon Rim, the AZT usually travels along flat or very low angle slopes, so you won't need to worry about any extra snow gear (like traction control or an ice axe). It'll just be slow and you will need to be comfortable navigating without an apparent trail.

I would wait and see what happens this winter if you can, before choosing a start date.

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Re: Thru-hike NOBO planning

Post by outdoor_lover » Oct 27 2017 12:52 pm

March 15th would probably be a great Date. Lingering Snow but not terrible and it will get you through the Lower Elevations before it starts getting too warm. Generally speaking, Water will usually be more Available in the Lower Elevations as well. With that being said, if you can wait and see how the Weather is going to Trend, I would hold off setting a Concrete Date as Dallin suggests....
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Re: Thru-hike NOBO planning

Post by jeffmpls » Nov 01 2017 6:10 pm

I agree with the two previous posts, you'd likely encounter snow with a start date before March 1, although it might not be too bad depending on the snow fall for 2018. I'm also planning to do the AZT NOBO in 2018, and from conversations I've had with others, mid-March seems to be a good window.
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Re: Thru-hike NOBO planning

Post by ssthomas19 » Jan 11 2018 10:15 pm

Start mid- to late March, depending on your hiking style. If you start in early March and you typically do big miles you'll see lots of snow and freezing temperatures on the North Rim and the South Kaibab Plateau. Also none of the campgrounds on the North Rim are open until May 15th, meaning no water faucets. I guess you could always boil snow. If you do 20 mi per day give or take that'll put you at the North Rim in late April. I'm also planning a spring northbound thru hike and I'm meeting my dad at the Grand Canyon so I've been crunching the number pretty thoroughly.

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Re: Thru-hike NOBO planning

Post by Jefalope » Jan 14 2018 1:21 pm

I will be starting NOBO early February because of this amazing year.
My only real worry is late winter snow at the higher elevations, and passages 27 -36 in March.

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