The Best Hikes in Kaibab National Forest

1,574 Triplog Reviews in the Kaibab National Forest
Most recent of 620 deeper Triplog Reviews
12.86 mi • 670 ft aeg
 Jackie, Zooey and I spent some time up north recently. Leaving town on Wednesday after work with a stoppover in Flagstaff for some food and beer. Then on Thursday we took our time and enjoyed the drive and a small detour to Lee's Ferry. We slept in my car at the trailhead so we could get any early start and really take our time and enjoy the area.

The trail is well defined and meanders easily through a wide canyon flanked by tall, aromatic vegetation in fall bloom. Eventually the canyon walls begin to narrow a bit but still remains wide with spectacular views. I'm walking briskly and failing to notice the rock art on the walls that we pass, but Jackie is much more keen to notice the rock art quickly and we stop. Then I'm scanning the rock and still struggling to find what she is pointing at lol.

Eventually the trail crosses the wash and leads us across to Table Rock where we take a lunch and extended break to explore more around this area before walking back to the car. I wish I had walked up to check out the spring and make sure it was still running, but we didn't make it over in that direction. We only passed two other groups heading out on our way back. By this time its midday and the nice early morning overcast sky has given way to a very warm direct sun. I can't imagine how this area heats up in the summer. This is such a spectacular area that I'm so happy to finally visit and consider the possibility of return visits.
8.72 mi • 947 ft aeg
 Did this hike with Jake and our dog Ollie. We started around 1:40pm and it took 4hrs to complete the round trip. Temperatures were in the 70s and it was sunny. Overall a great hike.

We took exit 151 (Welch Rd) off of I-40 and headed north, following FR6 for a few miles. We saw quite a few vehicles camped on the side of the road, as well as utility guys working on the power lines. A nice couple on their way out in a Jeep advised us to park before the canyon because of how muddy the bottom was. We therefore turned around, parked off of FR6 by a group of juniper trees, and hiked about a mile along the road to Johnson crater. Mud was indeed pretty thick at the bottom and a section of the road rather rocky. Nothing I think the outback could not have handled, but we really appreciated the word of caution and didn't mind the extra hike.

At the top of the canyon, the road continues straight and Johnson crater is to the left of the road. The top is basalt and there are a lot of prickly pear cacti, which could have been bad for Ollie's paws. Thankfully he didn't step on any of them. Then, we continued all the way to a cattle guard sign. There, the road forks: take a right to go to the old railroad (don't continue straight to the cattle guard).

As we continued our hike, we reached a pile of rocks in the middle of the road. I would not have tried going over it with a car, especially that further down the road, parts of the roads on the bridge were a bit washed.

We reached the power lines and were so distracted by the sound and views that we startled a rattlesnake. Thankfully, it let us know ahead of time that we were bothering it and didn't bite our pup. I think it was more scared than us so we gave it space and turned around to take a break. When we came back about ten minutes later, it was gone. On our way to the tunnel, we found other interesting plants (some of them I am not sure what they are) and animals (one tarantula, a few beetles, a lot of grasshoppers and one gopher). Temperature inside the tunnel dropped and there was a light breeze, which, even mid-october, was really nice. We reached the end of the tunnel and decided to turn around using the tunnel instead of the trail that goes around it. I think we had enough emotions with one rattlesnake for the day.

There isn't much of the railroad left to see other than the tunnel itself and the retaining wall. We found a few railroad spikes and could see traces of dynamite used to clear the road. Next time we will bike this trail.
11.58 mi • 3,190 ft aeg
Bull Pumpkin Loop
 Departed Phoenix just after 6am for a mid morning start to a perfect long mountain day. We started from Pumpkin Trailhead and did Connector Trail -> Bull Basin -> Pumpkin

Decent road conditions to trailhead. 193 just off Hwy 180 was pretty rutted with deeeep holes which otheriwse would've been a nice gravel road I spent a few miles dodging these treacherous potholes. Turning onto 171 was a relief and smooth ride to the Pumpkin Trailhead.

The connector trail is a real pumpkin. Following the contours of the mountain and traversing burned up areas and the trail is faint and difficult to follow.( What trail? lol.) We found ourselves off trail a couple times thank you Routescout for keeping us on track. Finally getting onto Bull Basin was a bit of a relief to be in forested areas again. It starts to slowly gain elevation. Beautiful stretch through perfect glowing yellow aspen forest. Then near the top a bit of fallen trees to navigate, but not bad. Finally toping out and enjoying some summit beers and snacks before descending on Pumpkin trail. Very steep descent dropping so much gain in a few short miles. Just a bit more of route finding over fallen trees, but the last couple miles were scenic and very easy to follow. Ok the whole loop was scenic and pretty, but I'm so happily back at the truck for more beers and finding a location to hunker down for the night :)
9 mi • 2,639 ft aeg
 AZ Wilderness Brewing made a Kolsch in honor of Kendrick Peak. Their beer description inspired me to check it out for myself as I love hikes with a reward at the end.

The road out to Kendrick isn't necessarily bad, but the first two miles or so are full of crater-size potholes. The road condition improves as you get further down the dirt track. I have a 4x4, but there were a few sedans at the well-maintained trailhead parking.

The hike starts in ponderosa forest that shows some fire damage evidence at the base, but trees appear to be healthy. There are also meadows full of beautiful wildflowers. Kendrick Trail is in great shape. The elevation gain is steady, but not never super steep.

Right before the summit is a 'false summit' of sorts with a little cabin. There is heavy fire damage in this area, so I assume the cabin is a replica of a former structure. It looks like the FS stores supplies in it, based on my peeping thru one of the very dirty windows. While the forest is pretty much obliterated, look north for views of Grand Canyon.

A little bit more of a push to the summit and you'll be at the Kendrick Fire Lookout. Compared to some lookouts, this one is all metal and seems to be more modern. It was not staffed when I visited. There's a concrete helipad near the lookout with 'Kaibab Helipad 79' written in the concrete. I assume the helipad was built in 1979. Regardless, it's good place to admire the views and have some lunch. There's no road that I can find leading up to the fire lookout, so it begs the question, how was this built? Even if supplies were airlifted to the helipad, how'd they get all the equipment up there to grade the land and pour the concrete? It boggles the mind. :?

Kendrick lacks the beautiful old growth of nearby Bear-Jaw Abineau Loop, but it still is a worthwhile and rewarding hike.

Many colors in meadows
3 mi • 0 ft aeg
 Continuing a 9 (?) year tradition we worked the Stagecoach 100 Moqui Stage Station aid station again this year. The station opens at 2:00 PM and closes at 2:00 AM, so it was a late night.

To maximize the return on the long drive we cut out a couple deadfall not far from one we cut a few years ago west of Grandview before setting up.
6.17 mi • 1,874 ft aeg
 Started 5:40am in order to avoid possible storms. From past experience I know monsoon storms come up at any time. 56 degrees at the start, very comfortable. Clouds around but the sun came out during my ascent. Lots of switchbacks and it's always up, up, up. Started at 7,800' and made it to 9,500'. At the 3 mile mark I felt like I'd had enough of the climbing and switchbacks. Nice views of SF Peaks and hills/mountains to the south and west. I really wanted to get to the top to see if I could see the Grand Canyon, but not to be.

I saw 6 other hikers during my trip. The last two were an older couple about 1/2 mile from the TH. He was 77 and she was about the same. They have a cabin in nearby Parks and hike here frequently. They said they hike to a point about 2.5-3 miles up they call their "lunch spot." It's always fun to meet someone like this and exchange stories. More power to them, I hope to be doing the same in 14 years!

I'm not a botanist so my 77-year-old acquaintance had to introduce me to "Indian TP" (mullein). Fortunately I didn't have to use it. :-)

Went back by way of US 180 thru Flag. On the way out I spotted a deer.
52 mi • 6,000 ft aeg
Deer Creek / Kanab Creek Loop
 This hike has been on my list for a few years now. I hiked the Deer Creek Trail in October 2014 & I was in the Kanab Creek area in March 2018. I wanted to see the lower reaches of Kanab & learned about the route along the river that connects the two drainages. One can hike down Deer Creek & then link up to Kanab along 8+ miles of river. I thought this made for a great loop! I didn’t realize how difficult & demanding this route would be. The route along the river is known for “extreme exertion” and the route did not disappoint. The following is our day by day triplog from the adventure.

Day 1 – Bill Hall to the Deer Creek Patio
We would drive up the night before & car camped near Sowats Point. We had two vehicles & we left one at the Jump Up Nail Trailhead & then we all packed into one vehicle & drove to Monument Point & started hiking around 10am. You start by climbing a couple hundred feet to Monument Point. From there you drop & then traverse & make a healthy drop to the top of the Esplanade. We continued on & took a break by the junction of the Thunder River Trail. We noticed several potholes of water in the slick rock. The area had ran a couple days before & that made the drive in a muddy mess. We would continue & take another break at the top of the Redwall & then made the final push to the creek. We passed the “Throne Room” and noticed the waterfall shooting right out of the wall was dry. I would continue down while the others made stop. I arrived at the camp area & found two tents set up. They were a couple of guys from Albuquerque that were doing the Deer Creek Thunder River loop. We would set up our tents & then spent some time at the Deer Creek Patio as dusk set in. We would spend the rest of the evening enjoying dinner under our camp lights.

Day 2 – Deer Creek to Kanab Creek via the Colorado River Route
We started day 2 relatively easy as we packed up and headed out around 8am. We have a very hardy day planned with 8+ difficult miles along the river. I had some anxiety about this stretch. I’ve known about this route for years & knew it went but I didn’t know the details as well as I should. There were only a few triplogs & they commented on the difficulty & sun exposure. Plus they spent two days crossing the section. We’re going for one day.

The route started with our descent through the Deer Creek Patio & then the exposed narrows & then Deer Creek Falls along the Colorado River. That all went well & we took a variety of pics. The route was on my mind & I was eager to begin. We would start out along the river & pushed through some reeds & other brush. It was obvious this was going to be difficult. We found some semblance of a route but it was not consistent & disappeared at times. About a mile in we climbed high to avoid a possible cliff along the river. I started questioning if this section was a good idea. It was hot & I knew we’re in for a challenge. The others assured me they were good & this reduced my anxiety. We would climb up a ridge to the top of the Tapeats & then started a long stretch several hundred feet above the river. This section was cairned & relatively easy to follow. I focused in & pushed through with a quick stop at a spring along one of the drainages. I would continue as a set of boaters passed below. I was wishing we were lower & could thumb for a boat ride to Kanab Creek. We were too high up & that was not possible. I would eventually drop back to the river & took a break and waited for the others. We were about a third of the way across & I knew the rest of the route was right along the river. We were fully committed at this point.

The others joined me & we continued after a break. The next mile went well & we took another break at Fishtail Canyon. This is the spot most people camp. We were in good shape so Karl got some water from a pool a few minutes up canyon. After that it was a long slow grind along the river. Some sections made for relatively quick travel while others slowed us down. It was hard & slow travel but we made progress. We were delighted to see shade as the sun was low in the sky & was blocked by the south rim thousands of feet above. We kept at it as the day ticked away. I filtered water at some point & we took another break. Next up was a section that had large boulders & slowed progress. I had sweat dripping off my face but knew we were running out of daylight. I pushed ahead and arrived at the mouth of Kanab Creek right before dusk. I would canvas the area & found a decent campsite a few hundred yards down river. The others arrived around nightfall & I led them to our camp. We were finally done & couldn’t be happier! The hike pushed us to our limits & is the hardest segment of a backpacking trip I have ever done. I was glad it was over. We would settle in to dinner & a fairly early bed time.

Day 3 – Kanab Creek to Scotty’s Hollow
Our day 3 had a slower start but we knew we have another hard day ahead of us. The going up Kanab Creek is not easy & we wanted time to explore Whispering Falls & Scotty’s Hollow. We would walk out of camp around 9am and headed up Kanab Creek. The going went well as it was a relatively wide canyon with a good creek bed. We could tell the creek flashed a few days before due to all the mud. This was not an issue as we made our way up canyon. We arrived at the junction with Whispering Falls around 11:30am and took a short break & then started the hike up canyon. We arrived at the lower pool and Karl filtered water. We would climb the embankment & headed up stream for Whispering Falls. You arrive at a pool that appears to be a swimmer. There’s the option to wade through waist deep water on the right or hug the wall on the left. The left wall worked well and once across the pool you climb a narrow slot & then arrive at Whispering Falls. It’s a stunning grotto that feels indoors. Another group arrived at the same time as us & we all enjoyed it together. Some of them swam but that water was too cold for my desert blood. After we had our fill we returned to Kanab Creek & loaded up and continued north.

It was coming up on 1pm and we had a lot of miles ahead of us. We pretty much put our heads down and pushed onward. The other group mentioned a couple of swimmers but admitted there could be a bypass. I was hoping for a dry way around. We followed the canyon & weaved our way around rocks & other obstacles. The deepest water we encountered was knee deep but we spent a lot of time & energy working our way around the deep pools. We eventually hit an area I had a waypoint labeled “difficult boulders”. I looked ahead and saw the channel lined with rocks of varying sizes and some ranged up to the size of a small house. This section was a lot of fun as we searched for a dry route. With much effort we found a manageable route. It took a lot but we were getting through. We eventually found a deep pool that appeared to be surrounded by large boulders. I’m sure the other group swam here. I looked around and found a potential route on the left. I climbed up and found a wedge on the far left wall. I took a closer look and found it very awkward & slippery but I was able to scramble up. I noticed an easy way down the other side & we had our dry bypass! I yelled out to the others and we worked as a team to get everyone up. We continued on.

Our plan was to make it to Showerbath Spring & that’s after the side trip with Scotty’s Hollow. It was approaching 4pm & we only had about two hours of daylight. Plus we’re all tired from hard hiking. Chumley & I talked & agreed to start looking for campsites, preferably something near Scotty’s Hollow. We kept hiking & found a couple of possible sites along the way but we’re hoping for something right at the turnoff for the Hollow. We arrived at the mouth of the side canyon but there wasn’t a camping site there. We would backtrack five minutes to a nice site just above the creek. It was another long day & we had just enough time to set up camp before nightfall. It was another evening enjoying dinner & then on to bed around 9pm.

Day 4 – Scotty’s Hollow to Jump Up
We have another big day planned so we packed up relatively early and were hiking around 8:20am. One of the challenges of this hike was short days. Sunrise was 6:45 am & Sunset was around 5:30pm. Mornings were cold & we were slow to get started. After cutting our hike short the day before, we started with Scotty’s Hollow. This was my first time in this section but we had time constraints. We admired the waterfall at the start of the side canyon & then scrambled up the rabbit hole. Once above we headed up canyon which is wonderful! There is flowing water & fantastic geology. We wanted to go to the turnaround point roughly 1.5 miles up canyon but had to turn around short due to timing.

Once back to Kanab Creek we loaded up and continued heading up canyon. The going went well and we navigated more boulder problems and crossed in knee deep water. It took us just over an hour to get to Showerbath Spring and sure enough there was one final pool right below the spring. We were able to climb over a boulder & had to pass packs over. Once we were over it we took an extended break at the spring. I’ve been to Showerbath in March 2018 when it was my turnaround point. I knew we had relatively easy going for the rest of our hike. After our break we continued hiking & worked our way north. The going is easy as the rocks are smaller and easy to hike through. We took a break at the junction with Kanab Creek & Jump Up Canyon. From there we headed up Jump Up and enjoyed a few miles of narrows. This section is a real treat. We made a short side trip up Indian Hollow and then continued up and passed Kwagunt Hollow. The last few miles to our camp was a grind but we arrived with about an hour of daylight. We would camp just above the junction of Jump Up Canyon & Sowats Canyon. We would settle in for our final night in the canyon.

Day 5 – Jump Up to Sowats Trailhead
Our last day in the Grand Canyon. We had a moderate hike ahead of us but we have a long drive back to Phoenix. Once again we were up fairly early & on trail around 8:15am. We would follow Sowats Canyon to the Jump Up Nail Trail and follow that back to one of the vehicles on the rim. Sowats Canyon had a light flow in the creek & is a bit rocky but was fairly easy. We worked our way up canyon as the sun beamed overhead and the temps rose. We made a stop at Mountain Sheep Spring and admired the glyphs by the campsite. From there we hiked the last mile to our trail junction exit and we took a short break there. We would then hike up the first real trail we’ve seen in four days! It’s a solid climb to the Esplanade but was nice heading up. Once up top we traversed across the top and headed for the Cottonwood trees near the final junction that led back to the rim. We took another short break at the water just a bit downhill. From there it was the typical grind back to the rim. I was delighted to top out and that ended our trip. The others would top out and we then drove back to Monument Point and retrieved the other vehicle. From there it was a solid six hours back to Phoenix with a stop at NiMarcos in Flagstaff. Another trip comes to an end!

Final Thoughts
This was an extremely difficult hike. Especially along the river route & the section of Kanab Creek below Showerbath Spring. I honestly don’t recommend this hike.

Kanab Creek is an absolute joy to hike but takes a lot of time & effort. I wish we had another day or two for this trip.

We had good water at each of our campsites. The Colorado River was mostly clear despite rain a week before. The bottom of Kanab Creek was muddy but cleared as we ascended the canyon.

The short days was a blessing & a curse. Mornings were cold & we were slow to begin. And then it was dark by 6pm. Longer days would be nice but that means more sun exposure along the river route.

Thanks to Chumley & Karl for driving!
16.55 mi • 994 ft aeg
 Did this as an overnight linking 42 and 43 to close out the AZT the same way I'd started it; backpacking. Took my time since I knew this was my next to last section and really savored it. We didn't use the AZT reroute from the burn scar, but rather took hwy247 (which was also a wreck) since it shaved like 2 miles off the reroute. Most of the south-bounders we encountered were using 247 as well. So black tarry mud, and complementary AZT foot weights from the parts of the route adjacent to the fire damage and all day it smelled like I'd been at a campfire. I know it will all bounce back over time but it is still a bummer to see.

I picked up my stashed water at 4Winter Road junction and made my final camp of my AZT section hikes that night. Perfect dark sky and very cold. Coyotes sang me off to sleep.
4 mi • 2,225 ft aeg
 We just finished hiking the Bull Basin trail and feel that this guide should be updated to show that the trailhead is now at the end of FR90B. It used to be at the end of 90A but the owners of the property there have fenced it off so the trailhead had to be moved. We reached the trailhead by driving north from Flagstaff on 180, turning left on FR191C north of the Kendrick Park meadow area, then west to a sharp right onto FR767, then west to FR760A which becomes FR90 at the Coconino-Kaibab boundary. The Trailhead is at the end of FR90B which splits off to the south from FR90. It is poorly marked coming from the east, but well marked coming from the west. The drive from 180 to the trailhead was 7.4 miles. It took us 65 minutes from 180 to find the trailhead and 40 minutes to get back to 180.

The trail no longer follows any old roads. It starts at the left of the large sign in the parking area. The narrow trail marked with cairns starts in a wooded area left of the sign with little elevation change until you go through the fence and gate into the Kendrick Wilderness area. Most of the trail is not maintained, with fallen trees to climb over or under, brush and tall grass hiding some of the cairns, and loose, slippery rock in steep sections. The 8.4 mile round trip took us about 8 hours, including a 20 min. lunch break at the cabin and many stops for photos. The cabin is locked and it's former contents are stacked outside of it.
20.77 mi • 2,268 ft aeg
 This is an amazing late summer hike. I did this a few days after torrential monsoon rains which made for a lush, green hike with mushrooms the size of my head exploding out of the cool, loamy soil.It's a long hike full of ridlelines, saddles, meadows and valleys.
This was part of a series of day hikes, passages 40 thru 43, to finish the AzTrail. 40 and 41 were definitely my favs as 42 and 43 both had extensive burn scars and erosion from the Magnum Fire. I will likely return in a few years to see the recovery.

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