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AZT South Rim GC to Gooseberry TH, AZ
mini location map2019-08-31
65 by photographer avatarBiFrost
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AZT South Rim GC to Gooseberry TH, AZ 
AZT South Rim GC to Gooseberry TH, AZ
Backpack avatar Aug 31 2019
Backpack157.27 Miles 18,635 AEG
Backpack157.27 Miles8 Days         
18,635 ft AEG
1st trip
Started this trip with setting up the car shuttle. Friend of ours meet us at the Gooseberry Trailhead on Lake Mary Road on Saturday morning. From there we drove to Tusayan to begin the hike.

Day 1 – First day was really not part of the backpack and we did this as a day hike. From Tusayan we took the shuttle bus into the park Grand Canyon Visitor Center and then another bus to South Kaibab Trailhead. Then day hiked south bound on the AZT towards Tusayan. The trail has been rerouted since we hiked it 2015 to mostly paved track and none of us really liked the new track. I’m assuming it was done to take the trail closer to Mather Campground for easier camping options but the pavement makes it a tourist trail when it used to be a real dirt hiking trail through some nice ponderosa forest. Regardless we followed the new route into Tusayan and our camp for the night a hotel in Tusayan. Yep rough first night on the trail :lol:

Day 2 – We left the hotel before 6 and went across the street to get coffee :) Said goodbye to our shuttle friend and hopped on the AZT where we left off the previous day. We hiked south bound towards Grandview Tower. About 4 miles from the tower where the trail jumps on dirt road a car passed by that looked like a rental. About 20 minutes later we were taking a break at Watson Tank and they came back. French tourists looking for highway 64 and the way to Monument Valley. I just told them to return to Tusayan and stay on pavement. Eventually made it to Grandview Tower and took a break. After that we had about 6 miles to camp but stopped to filter water at a wildlife tank just before camp. Nice camp spot on the Coconino Rim with good views!

Day 3 – Started the day still on the Coconino Rim section with good views to the east. The trail eventually leaves the rim and we headed for Russell Tank. Unfortunately, the lack of water on the next section Babbitt Ranch made it necessary to carry enough water to make the next reliable source at Tub Ranch Tank about 30 miles away and we also needed enough for camp that night. I filtered about 10 liters for next section from Russell Tank but of course that made our packs really heavy. We continued south to Moqui Station and started the Babbitt Ranch section. About 5 miles into Babbitt Ranch we jumped off the current route and looked for the new section that is under construction. We found the pink flagging tape that marks the route which we followed for about a mile before finding camp for the night in pinyon pine and juniper trees.

Day 4 – We continued to follow the ribbons the next morning for another 3 miles on the still to be completed trail. It was time consuming but fun to follow the ribbons and see how the trail was being routed. The ribbon route eventually links up to partially completed section about 5.6 miles in legnth. We hiked that section which is mostly finished except for final touches. That led to the next section which is completed trail about 4.5 miles in length but the trail will not be open until all new trail is completed. We followed this section until reaching the current track where I looked for the next section. I found the pink ribbons marking the route but we were running short on water and it was really hot so we followed the current AZT to Tub Ranch Tank about 4 miles away. At Tub Ranch Tank we used an AZT provided rope and bucket [ photo ] to scoop water from the tank enough for camp that night if needed. However, up the trail at the junction of Babbitt Ranch and the next section there was a water cache full with public water. Many thanks to the volunteers who stock these water cache boxes!! We continued down trail for another 2 miles before finding a place to camp for the night.

Day 5 – Next day it was nice to be heading back up into the ponderosa pines and towards the San Francisco Peaks. Of course, we had several miles to the mountain but it was a nice hike leading up to it. Just before Kelly Tank we passed a group day hiking north bound. The last person in the group was a woman who asked us if we were hiking the whole Arizona Trail. We said only 8 days from Grand Canyon to Gooseberry trailhead. Turns out she was Senator Martha McSally. Thankfully we did not talk about politics and rather had a great conversation about the AZT. She is currently section hiking the trail and we talked about the trail and favorite sections. Shortly after that conversation we reached another water cache box full of public water. Again thanks to the volunteers who stock these caches. We stocked up on more water and headed up into the peaks. Storm clouds started to rumble and eventually we had a few hours of rain and hail. Nothing crazy but we did get wet and the temps dropped. We made camp a few miles past Alfia Tank as the rain stopped for the day.

Day 6 – In the morning our objective was to follow the AZT Urban route into Flagstaff. Before the trip I knew that part of the trail was closed but hoped maybe they reopened it. We hiked south bound across the Snow Bowl road and then to the Urban route junction. Once on the Urban route we continued to Schultz Creek trail head to find that yes the route was closed. It was clearly blocked so we made the decision to bypass the last 7 miles into Flagstaff. Fortunately, we were able to use Lyft to make the Holiday Inn our stay for the night just off the AZT. Must say it was a sweet luxury after five days on the trail.

Day 7 – All rested up we left the hotel at 645 and being only 3 blocks from the Urban AZT we were on the trail quickly. We passed under the I-40 and back into the forest south of Flagstaff. Good trail out of town so it was fast progress. Really nice trail between Walnut Canyon and start of Anderson Mesa with some new trail since we hiked it in 2015. We passed Anderson Mesa trailhead and then continued to the rim overlooking Upper Lake Mary for lunch break. After lunch we had a long slog across Anderson Mesa with a stop at Horse Lake for our main water source of the day and camp that night. From Horse Lake we hiked across Lake Mary Road and to a cool area called the Railroad Grade. It’s an old railroad that was constructed for the timber industry in the 1920’s but is also a great area to camp.

Day 8 – Last day on the trail we just needed to make Gooseberry trailhead about 20 miles. We finished up the Railroad Grade and hiked the lower slopes of Mormon Mountain above Mormon Lake. Our water source for the day was Double Springs. Really good water source and we had a short rain shower roll through while filtering water. After that we continued the last 12 miles with mostly good single track and fortunate to see a large 20 plus heard of elk cruising through the forest. We finished up before 5pm and happy to be done with a long portion of the AZT!
Cadastral Survey Marker
Named place
Named place
Russell Tank
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
a few wild flowers on the San Francisco Peaks #34 section. Lupine, Indian Paint Brush, Globe Mallow and others

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Alfa Fia Tank 26-50% full 26-50% full
water looked decent but I didn't need to filter

dry Anderson Tank Dry Dry
completely dry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Double Springs Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
great source of water. Clear, cold and plenty of water in the creek and spring

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Horse Lake 51-75% full 51-75% full
plenty of clear water but there was some cow activity. Still we filtered 4 liters

dry Kelly Tank Dry Dry
completely dry

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Lost Tank 1-25% full 1-25% full
tank looked decent from a distance and definitely had water but we didn't need any

dry Marshall Mesa Tank Dry Dry
completely dry

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Mayflower Spring Dripping Dripping
small puddle and would only filter if desperate

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Navajo Spring Dripping Dripping
pipe was dripping water but it was good quality

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Prime Lake 26-50% full 26-50% full
water was good but difficult to reach unless you don't mind wading through the marshy edge

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Russell Tank 51-75% full 51-75% full
lots of water

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Russell Water Storage Tank 1-25% full 1-25% full
there was about 3 inches of water in the metal tank with the lid. But would only use if really needed it

dry Skunk Canyon Dry Dry
no water in the canyon

dry Upper Ten X Tank Dry Dry
completely dry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Van Deren Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
water was actually a small pond. It looked like decent quality but didn't need any

dry Watson Tank Dry Dry
completely dry
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