Flagstaff 1 nighter options for newbies?

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Kxpacker
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Flagstaff 1 nighter options for newbies?

Post by Kxpacker » Jan 22 2018 11:33 am

In June I'm taking a small group of 15yr old girls on their first backpacking trip (6-8 newbie girls plus 4 experienced adults). We will be heading to OLeary campground afterward, so something convenient to that would be great (Oleary Peak itself doesn't sound too tempting). I've been eyeing Bear Jaw to Waterline to Inner Basin (one way / shuttle) but haven't found much intel on camping along the trail. Need room for 6 or 7 2-man tents. And maybe drop packs for an off-trail jaunt up to Rees peak? Too much for first timers?

Open to other options that would be on our way from Phoenix to Flag, though prefer Flag area. West Fork of OCC would be beautiful but perhaps we're too big a group based on the campsites I've seen. Plus I'd prefer a loop/lollipop or A to B over an out & back route.

All ideas welcome!! Thanks

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chumley
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Re: Flagstaff 1 nighter options for newbies?

Post by chumley » Jan 22 2018 12:09 pm

@Kxpacker
I wouldn't recommend Rees Peak to first-timers. It's very steep, there's no trail, and you'd have to negotiate a lot of dead/downfall.

There is nowhere to camp along the waterline road between Bear Jaw and the Inner Basin (except on the road itself, which wouldn't be much fun), and there is no backpacking permitted in the Inner Basin itself.

Unfortunately, most of the campsites I know of in the Flagstaff area are forest-road accessible car camping sites. One trail area that might be nice is Sandy's Canyon, but it's not easy to make a loop out of it.
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SuperstitionGuy
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Re: Flagstaff 1 nighter options for newbies?

Post by SuperstitionGuy » Jan 22 2018 12:19 pm

You might consider camping near the Lava River Tube and exploring it after you arrive late that evening and then backpacking somewhere near there. A late night explore of the Tube means you will not likely have to share it with other groups. It's always dark down there anyway.... Pun intended...
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Kxpacker
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Re: Flagstaff 1 nighter options for newbies?

Post by Kxpacker » Jan 22 2018 4:10 pm

chumley wrote:There is nowhere to camp along the waterline road
Yeah we def wouldn't want right on the road, which I don't think is allowed anyway. I did see one trip log that mentioned spending a night just off Waterford trail near the Inner Basin junction, but no details on where exactly or what the capacity of the site was. I'll check out Sandy's Canyon though, thanks,

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big_load
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Re: Flagstaff 1 nighter options for newbies?

Post by big_load » Jan 22 2018 6:41 pm

Kxpacker wrote:I did see one trip log that mentioned spending a night just off Waterford trail near the Inner Basin junction
Something like 1/4-1/2 mile past the Inner Basin junction, there are half a dozen good campsites. Some are more exposed than others, so the choice depends on how much wind to expect and whether there will be lightning. The exact distance from the junction should be easy to see on a map. It feels farther than it is because I've been pretty tired whenever I reach that point. It's a pretty tough slog for newbies from either starting point unless they're very fit. Being already acclimated to altitude helps.

There's also one potential site at the first saddle, but I don't know how often people camp there. It's pretty much just a wide spot adjacent to the trail sheltered by some logs. Trail runners stash water in the logs there.

ETA: I should also mention that there's no water up there, so you'd need to carry up enough for the whole trip.

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nonot
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Re: Flagstaff 1 nighter options for newbies?

Post by nonot » Jan 23 2018 1:21 am

I don't understand what exactly you mean - there isn't any good backpacking within a walking distance of the Inner Basin area.

I think you are just looking for somewhere to backpack between Phoenix and Flagstaff, preferrably close to Flagstaff?

I'd recommend checking out the Picture Canyon trail system first. Seems newbie friendly. Second choice would be to check out the northern third of the Mt Elden area. I haven't found much else near Flagstaff that has reliable surface water that I would consider drinkable after filtering and is conducive to backpacking. Due to the lack of water much of it is generally suitable for dayhiking, or through hiking only with pre-placed caches.

The concern with Picture Canyon is I'm not sure if its coming from a water treatment plant or spring fed. I was confused by the signs.
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Re: Flagstaff 1 nighter options for newbies?

Post by nonot » Jan 23 2018 1:25 am

In June, the Sycamore Canyon Rim Loop makes for a nice, shortish backpacking loop. Definitely gets a high rating from me, but is a bit further from town and in the wrong direction.
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big_load
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Re: Flagstaff 1 nighter options for newbies?

Post by big_load » Jan 23 2018 2:10 pm

nonot wrote:I don't understand what exactly you mean - there isn't any good backpacking within a walking distance of the Inner Basin area.
I read "Waterford" as "Weatherford". I did it once as a backpack from the Weatherford TH (profile.php?I=3&u=8911&ID=46&start=90#T__54248_______1). I've also dayhiked the saddle from the Inner Basin TH , which you could just as well backpack if you're willing to carry the water. That's a much shorter trek.

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