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Lookout Knoll, AZ
mini location map2017-04-08
35 by photographer avatarAZHiker456
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Lookout Knoll, AZ 
Lookout Knoll, AZ
Hiking12.54 Miles 2,147 AEG
Hiking12.54 Miles   5 Hrs   30 Mns   2.37 mph
2,147 ft AEG      13 Mns Break
1st trip
Linked   none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
After an exceptionally stressful week, [and TONS going on in my personal life], I wanted a very low stress option that basically met all of the following:

• Summit hike I haven’t already done
• A maximum of 30 minutes of driving to reach the TH
• No shitty dirt roads required to get to/from the TH
• No ‘route finding’ involved with simply getting to the TH
• Excellent off-trail terrain [so I wouldn’t have to worry too much about snakes… OR failing to get in my good old double-digit mileage]

Lookout Knoll fit the bill perfectly and did not disappoint. I’d been to the TH on more than one occasion over the past 3-4 months, and it’s a very easy/straightforward drive, [as one might expect given that it’s a major takeoff point for the Arizona Trail]. Also, while planning this adventure, I could literally see routes on the satellite imagery, which spanned long stretches of what was supposed to be ‘off-trail’. Usually when this happens, the off-trail portions tend to allow for some really fun off-trail blazing; and that definitely proved to be the case with today’s adventure.

From the TH, I took off on autopilot down the beautiful Arizona Trail [AZT #2 aka Canelo Hills East]. The footing on this segment of trail is excellent [and ‘trail runnable’ in many places]. There were a few areas where I departed from the trail in order to have some extra fun and get some even better views; but with errands to run and lots of mileage to log, I stayed on the trail for the most part… [there was also a very annoying barb wire fence following along the ridge that the trail was ascending, and I was NOT at all in the mood to play the crisscross game with the damn fence]. Lucky for me, one of the few places where I did go through the trouble of crossing the fence, [in order to get some better views from one of the prominent points along the ridge], I was treated to more than just awesome views: a loud rustling noise in brush nearby soon revealed itself: a coatimundi.

The Arizona Trail took me within about 0.75 miles of the summit of Lookout Knoll, at which point the “bushwhack” supposedly begins; though for the vast majority of the remaining way to the peak, there is a route that’s so well blazed that it’s worlds more obvious than many so called “official trails”, such as many of the “official trails” on the NE end of the Galiuros… :o ).

Unlike some summits where the views from the top definitely take the prize, the views from atop Lookout Knoll were nice but definitely not a standout compared to the views throughout the rest of the hike; and I actually enjoyed the views more from other random spots / random prominent points along the ridgeline. While the summit views weren’t my favorite, the rest of the summit experience was very nice: perfect temps, [lots of sun but not too hot… and not too cold/windy either like in other spots along the ridge], no bees :y: , ample comfy spots / boulders to rest on, and other interesting things: solar panels, 4 survey makers [the typical three that form a triangle relative to one another, plus a 4th smaller, gold colored marker right near what appeared to be the highpoint / summit cairn that housed the register… speaking of which, like many other Southern Arizona summits, Gordon MacLeod & Barbara Lilley placed the log book for this one as well [in March of 1997]… although they titled the name of the summit, “Lookout Knob”, [I’m not sure if they actually made an error OR the topos made the error but both Cal & FS Topo maps list it as “Lookout Knoll”]. In addition to the main logbook, there were some loose sheets of pages in the register that looked as though they even older, [but they looked extremely brittle, so I didn’t even attempt to remove them].

Making great time on the “off-trail” terrain thanks to the excellent route[s] that followed along the ridgeline / barbed-wire fence line, I decided to proceed with my original plan, which was to continue SE a little ways along the ridgeline, before dropping off and connecting with a jeep road for my true-loop style return. The ridgeline was a total blast, and being able to mindlessly cruise along thanks to the excellent route definitely added to the fun.

Ironically, in the location where I’d planned to make my exit from the main ridge, [which was along the small gradual ridge that heads Northward, leading off the 4th prominent point of the main ridge, after Lookout Knoll], the barbed wire fence also turns and heads down that ridge as well. Luckily though, [with super gradual, non-brushy terrain in this area], you could pretty much just head downward and make as good if not better time than staying on the routes [and given how good the off-trail terrain was in the area, it wasn’t surprising that the routes seemed to disappear in this area as well].

About 1.5 miles after departing from the main ridge, I came out as planned on a jeep road [FR 4633], which runs through Pauline Canyon; and about 3 miles after that, near where Pauline Canyon intersects with Western Canyon], I headed SW up Western Canyon]. While Western Canyon does not have a road running in/through it like Pauline Canyon, it is still a very fast traverse [and TONS of fun]… in the beginning, the rock is crushed finely enough that it’s almost like walking on sand [vs some types of canyons / drainages where the going is very slow thanks to footing that consists of small-medium sized loose rocks that are the absolute perfect size for twisting an ankle].

Though it wasn’t long before Western canyon started to have areas of large rock that were well rooted into the canyon floor… and shortly after that, things transitioned into total boulder hopping awesomeness! There were even a few small waterfalls, although I didn’t see a drop of water anywhere in this canyon [nor in Pauline Canyon]. After a little over 1.5 miles down Western Canyon, there were a few side branches… and frustratingly, I ended up down one of them, [which started leading me away from where I needed to go to get to my vehicle]. Luckily, [being in the habit of periodic GPS spot check while off-trail], I caught the mistake before too much time was wasted and got myself back on track, adding only about 1/2 mile extra. While I would’ve loved to had have more time, this proved to be a very beautiful, fun, and low stress adventure… and being less than a 30 minute drive from my front door, it will be a very nice spot to revisit from time to time.
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