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State of Arizona Parks

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USA Parks
Northern Region
Escudilla National Recreation Trail
Cactus Wren ©
A species of wren that is native to the southwestern United States southwards to central Mexico.
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Alpine Ranger District, P.O. Box 469
Alpine, Arizona   85920

Phone: 520-339-4384
This 3 mile walk to the top of Arizona's third highest mountain is such an outstanding trail that it has been given recognition by Congress as a National Recreational Trail. The scenery is magnificent, the surroundings are picturesque and the walking is comparatively easy, considering the heights to which you are headed. More of a pleasant stroll than a strenuous climb, this is the trail that the Alpine District recommends to outings groups to when they ask the Forest Service to point out a good day hike.

The climb up Escudilla starts out through an area that was burned by a huge wildfire in 1951. Evidence of the impact of that fire is apparent along the trail in the form of large Douglas fir stumps left from trees that were killed by the blaze. Those blackened snags were later cut in an effort to salvage what wood could be recovered in the aftermath of the fire. The stumps now are being naturally recycled into the forest ecosystem in the shade of a thick growth of aspens which has sprung up in the aftermath of the fire. This area is such an extensive example of natural reclamation that it has been designated a Research Natural Area.

After leaving the first aspen grove, the trail passes through stands of spruce, fir, and more aspen alternating with large open meadows as it continues the climb to the top. Along that climb, various overlooks provide awe-inspiring views of the countryside over which this sky island towers. The first views to the south and west occur about a mile from the trailhead at the top of Tool Box Draw. They're almost as good as those at the top of the mountain. If it's views you're after, you don't even have to walk all the way to the top.

When (and if) you do get to the summit, there's a Forest Service fire tower which offers an even higher vantage point. From the tower (on a clear day) you can see the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff as well as the high peaks and deep canyons of the Blue Primitive Area. The Gila Wilderness, Mt. Graham and the Pinalenos are usually visible to the south.

Escudilla National Recreation Trail is

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