Nov 27, 2020 at 5:25 pm #3686078John SmithBPL Member
@jcar3305Locale: East of Cascades
Recent job change has removed me from the world of Summer/Fall long hikes. Bummer, since I live in WA state. However, this may be the time to explore the Arizona trail or others. I am looking for 10-14 day trips 150-225 miles. I want hills, ridges, mountains, etc… I don’t mind snow, but don’t want to spend my days post holing. Weather can be various. No concerns about multiple days if inclement weather, I love great scenery but it does not have to be huge vistas. I have spent the last 46 years hiking extensively, most of that in Alaska.
I am especially interested in Arizona Trail and the Cumberland Trail. But open to others as well.Jan 9, 2021 at 11:43 am #3692902Steven ThompsonBPL Member
Some AZ options: Tonto Trail + Escalante Route in Grand Canyon. Enter on the Boucher Trail (or even West Bass if you can find the ride) and exit the Tanner. Or reverse. Resupply opportunity at Phantom Ranch. Can add an out and back to Clear Creek on the north rim side to extend a bit.
AZ trail through Saguaro Nat’l Park and the Santa Catalinas. Enter Miller Creek and exit Romero Canyon in the state park. Lots of options for side trips along the way.
And if you don’t mind hiking through recovering burn areas the Highline Trail, the Arizona Trail through the Mazatzal, or a route the takes in the Red Tanks Trail through the Superstition Wilderness might check your boxes.
And suggest going over to the backpacker magazine forums and seeking out ideas from “Big Load”.Jan 9, 2021 at 2:53 pm #3692938
A warm part of the Arizona Trail is between the greater Phoenix to Tucson areas (there was a burn in the latters mountains, so there is a workaround that goes around said mountains on the AZT Fb page). It’s also a little drier than normal for AZ. Looking at a bus ride east of Phoenix then southbound to Tucson where I could get rideshare into that city, or maybe catch Amtrak from nearby Benson. There’s a shuttle service around Sierra Vista but the Huachuca mountains /southern trail terminus can get cold.
North of Phoenix I’ve hiked the mazatzal wilderness which has the AZT going through it, but I’ve also hiked along the Verde river on its west side. Maybe some sort of loop? The Bernheart trail was a bit rocky on one of my hikes if using that.
.. other ideas
One idea I looked at was the Florida trail, but it requires a 30 day heads up to that trail association for a permit needed for some private land crossings. The recommendations are starting northbound in January if planning to hike the whole thing, but maybe a part?Jan 9, 2021 at 4:53 pm #3692980
there’s always the winter and spring backpacking list on oregonhikers.orgJan 10, 2021 at 12:02 pm #3693103
If flexible about storms coming in (want to avoid traveling in that snow as New Mexico didn’t plow on weekends), maybe most of the Gila in Feb or March.
Possibly combine it with part of the southern CDT … even (if COVID is addressed) getting dropped off by the AMTRAK in Lordsburg where that trail goes by if looking at a “section hike plus”.
Elevation plays a big role in the Southwest in terms of temperature and snow cover (Chiricahua Pk and Mount Lemmon, which has a ski area, may be cold and snowy despite being almost at the Mexican border).
Also vehicle access. The western part of the Gila can have some bad road or partly submerged due to any snow melt. However one can drive a paved road (New Mexico highway 15) into the center of the wilderness, and leave a car near the Gila Visitors Center, then use foot travel to make lots of loops. Same thing long section hiking style – just use the CDT from above Silver City into the heart of the Gila (i.e. the Visitor Center area) with only a little roadwalk from the ”Doc’s General Store” … and commercial hot springs, cabins if so desired)Jan 10, 2021 at 4:03 pm #3693154Luke SchmidtBPL Member
Andrew Skurka has some desert hiking routes on his website, never something I had time to pursue but probably worth a look.
Depending on travel conditions (and budget) you could look at the Southern Hemisphere.Jan 26, 2021 at 9:42 am #3695680
Just to give an indication of changing conditions, I’m watching wet snow in Tucson AZ right now, nixing my AZT section hike for a bit as more fronts arrive over the next week or so. Not sticking in the city, but seeing AZT Fb posts of a little accumulation even around Sahuita (a little southeast of Tucson). A solid 3+ season kit for summer mountains should suffice for the desert mesas (lows almost at 20°F next wk), but remember it gets colder atop any mountain.
Hopefully it’ll recharge the water sources, but drought via La Niña still seems to be the overall pattern forecast for early 2021 throughout the “West by southwest”. Can be interrupted by snowstorms though.Jan 26, 2021 at 10:00 am #3695687
one thing I’ve noticed about backpacking in winter is you have to look at weather reports and find a period of time with good weather.
Sometimes it’ll be bad in Oregon but good in California or vice versa.
In the summer you can just schedule a trip ahead of time, weather will probably be goodJan 26, 2021 at 11:10 am #3695691Ben CBPL Member
The Cumberland Trail is in my neighborhood. Best I can tell, it is still very much a work in progress and would be difficult to complete as any type of thru hike. You might have more up to date info. The Sheltowee Trace is also in the same general area; parts of it at least are nice. Benton McKaye is an option. A section of the southern AT would work.
Honestly, though, early spring can be cool, wet, and dreary in the southeast. I would look at some Utah canyon routes. Or maybe New Mexico or Arizona.Jan 26, 2021 at 11:40 am #3695697
.. weather reports
Starting at a week or 2, the situation more becomes being ready for whatever weather … and having a plan (plus finances) to take a zero day or two. There’s other recreationalists who’ll want to take shelter from the storm too.
…maybe New Mexico or Arizona.
New Mexico has a higher elevation higher than Arizona so I’d really look at the front forecast with a retreat planned out of the mountains. There’s some very southerly backpacking areas (Peloncillos next to AZ, which overlooked Mexico Highway 2 at night, … or the Last Chance Canyon area next to TX in the Carlsbad area), but not sure I could piece together a week+ trip in those locales. AZ usually has a little better weather but the window can be tight (the aforementioned Reavis Ranch TH gets very popular with rattlers into March).Jan 26, 2021 at 11:53 am #3695703
yeah, weather reports aren’t accurate a week or more out
if you can be flexible, it’s better backpacking in nicer weather
you still have to be ready for bad weatherJan 31, 2021 at 11:49 pm #3696664John SmithBPL Member
@jcar3305Locale: East of Cascades
Thanks for all the responses.
I have definitely narrowed it down to the AZT and Ouachita Trail.
I will look more closely at the Florida Trail and it is good to know the Cumberland trail is still in development stages.
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