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Thursday, September 25, 2008


ABINEAU-BEAR JAW Kachina Peaks Wilderness Known for its carousel of changing views and ecosystems, the Abineau-Bear Jaw loop is among the most popular hikes in the Flagstaff area. The trail’s multiple personality can be experienced several ways, although most hikers prefer to tackle the tougher part first by beginning on the Abineau trail. From the signed trailhead (8,500 feet of elevation), the path heads up Abineau Canyon and climbs steeply on rugged terrain through dense conifer forests. Rocky Mountain irises, penstemon and daisies wash the slopes in vivid hues of violet, orange and yellow and soften the devastating effects of a February 2005 avalanche that scoured a large portion of the upper trail. At the two-mile point (10,400 feet), the trail meets the talus slopes below Humphreys Peak and the junction with an old dirt road. From there, views of the volcanic fields of northern Arizona are breathtaking. To connect with the Bear Jaw trail, follow the dirt road (also shown as the Waterline or Pipeline road on some maps) downhill for 2 miles and look for the easy-to-miss sign on the left. Along the Bear Jaw trail, the forest changes from conifer to mostly aspens and alpine meadows. The trail is a bit treacherous in spots, so, proceed with care and enjoy the fact that it’s all down hill back to the trailhead. LENGTH: 6.7 mile loop RATING: difficult ELEVATION: 8,500- 10,400 feet GETTING THERE:
EAST ACCESS:  From Phoenix, take I-17 north to Flagstaff. Once in Flagstaff, drive north on Highway 89 for 12 miles to FR 420, which is across from the turnoff for Sunset Crater. Continue on FR 420 for about a half-mile and then turn right onto FR 552. Follow FR 552 to FR 418 and turn right. Continue on FR 418 for about 7 miles to FR 9123J. Turn left onto FR 9123J and drive another 1.2 miles to the trailhead. The dirt roads are accessible by sedan, but a high-clearance vehicle is recommended.
From Flagstaff, go 19.5 miles north on US 180 to milepost 235.2, turn right onto Hart Prairie Road (north access of FR 151), go 1.6 miles to FR 418, turn left and continue to the signed turn off for Bear Jaw (FR9123J) on the right near the 3-mile marker and follow the signs 0.6 mile to the trailhead. FR 151, 418 and 9123J are maintained dirt, suitable for sedan, but high clearance is recommended.
INFO: Flagstaff Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 928-526-0866,

1 comment:

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