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Walking Thunderbird
04-19-2014, 00:07
I'm planning to start a roughly four-week NOBO AZT thru hike sometime during the first week of May, and I'm curious if anyone has any info about how to get to Coronado Monument to start things out. I'm planning to fly to Tucson, but from what I understand it's 80-100 miles from there. The AZT website lists a few commercial shuttle companies that look more like taxi services. Does anyone know of any other ways to get to the trailhead from Tucson?

Any help is as always appreciated.

Thunderbird

garlic08
04-19-2014, 08:50
Getting a big favor from a friend or neighbor is one way. Networking with ATA members is another. If you don't live there and aren't a member, those are hard to do. You can try to contact someone through the ATA website. That's been done a couple of times that I know of in the past, but I don't know if it can be done currently.

The hitch to the Monument entrance from Sierra Vista I hear isn't too bad, and from there there's a trail up to the AZT trailhead. But you still have to get to Sierra Vista.

Good luck in your hike, especially the southern half. It can get warm there in May.

StubbleJumper
04-19-2014, 08:56
I took a shuttle from Tucson to Coronado, which worked out quite well. They pick you up at the time you want, they have clean and safe minivans, and the driver was pleasant and professional. Unfortunately the price quote was about $170 or something like that. To defray that cost, I contacted a couple other people from discussions forums who I knew were intending to start the trail on a similar date so that we would coordinate our departure. We ended up paying $85 each, which is still a bit costly, but it's much better than the full $170.

One of the other options that I looked at were to take the Hound to Benson and then get a ride from there, but it's still a long stretch from Benson to Sierra Vista, and then it's still about 20 miles from Sierra Vista to Coronado. I concluded that using the Greyhound for one leg of that trip really wouldn't help that much and that I'd be constrained by the bus schedule (to say nothing of the ticket price).

Hitchhiking is also an option. There's a large military base near Sierra Vista, so it might be possible to hitch a ride on the major roads between there and Tucson. On the other hand, rural Arizona can be a pretty lonely place and it might take a while to get a ride. Even in the most optimistic circumstances, I'd budget an entire day to hitch from Tucson to Coronado.

In the end, I decided that the shuttle was worth $85 to me. It ensures that you get to the trailhead early enough in the day to allow you to hike the 10 or 12 miles up hill to your first water source at Bathtub Spring. Do not underestimate the difficulty of the first day...it's a 10 or 12 mile butt-kicker (assuming that you start your hike at the Visitors' Centre).

Walking Thunderbird
04-19-2014, 18:50
I took a shuttle from Tucson to Coronado, which worked out quite well. They pick you up at the time you want, they have clean and safe minivans, and the driver was pleasant and professional. Unfortunately the price quote was about $170 or something like that. To defray that cost, I contacted a couple other people from discussions forums who I knew were intending to start the trail on a similar date so that we would coordinate our departure. We ended up paying $85 each, which is still a bit costly, but it's much better than the full $170.

One of the other options that I looked at were to take the Hound to Benson and then get a ride from there, but it's still a long stretch from Benson to Sierra Vista, and then it's still about 20 miles from Sierra Vista to Coronado. I concluded that using the Greyhound for one leg of that trip really wouldn't help that much and that I'd be constrained by the bus schedule (to say nothing of the ticket price).

Hitchhiking is also an option. There's a large military base near Sierra Vista, so it might be possible to hitch a ride on the major roads between there and Tucson. On the other hand, rural Arizona can be a pretty lonely place and it might take a while to get a ride. Even in the most optimistic circumstances, I'd budget an entire day to hitch from Tucson to Coronado.

In the end, I decided that the shuttle was worth $85 to me. It ensures that you get to the trailhead early enough in the day to allow you to hike the 10 or 12 miles up hill to your first water source at Bathtub Spring. Do not underestimate the difficulty of the first day...it's a 10 or 12 mile butt-kicker (assuming that you start your hike at the Visitors' Centre).


Thanks for the quick reply. I'll probably just have to bite the bullet and take the shuttle. I'm a really fast hiker, so I'm sure I'll do more like 20 the first day.

The ride from the airport is about 2 hours, right? I see a flight that gets in at 10am, which would allow me to be on the trail around noon or 1, from which hopefully I can get 6-8 hours of hiking in that day. Was the shuttle on time so as to make this reasonable?

StubbleJumper
04-19-2014, 21:19
Thanks for the quick reply. I'll probably just have to bite the bullet and take the shuttle. I'm a really fast hiker, so I'm sure I'll do more like 20 the first day.

The ride from the airport is about 2 hours, right? I see a flight that gets in at 10am, which would allow me to be on the trail around noon or 1, from which hopefully I can get 6-8 hours of hiking in that day. Was the shuttle on time so as to make this reasonable?

The shuttle guys are professional and my guy was actually about 15 minutes early. You don't need to worry about their reliability. The bigger concern would be whether your airline is on time!

Yes, it's about 2 or 2.5 hours from the airport to Coronado Monument. If you arrive at 1pm, and hike for 7 hours, you'll be hard pressed to make 20 miles. From the monument, you walk up Joe's Canyon Trail, gaining about 1,300 feet until you get to Yaqui trail. Then you drop your rucksack and go downhill to the Mexican border. From the Mexican border, you climb more than 3,100 feet to the Miller Peak trail junction where you hang a left to head to Bathtub Spring. So, that's a total of at least 4,400 feet of climbing and perhaps 11 miles just to get from the monument to Bathtub Spring. Using the rule of thumb of 2 miles per hour plus 30 minutes per 1,000 feet of climbing, it should take about 8 hours. In fact, this is about how long it took me last year, but I did make the minor detour to the top of Miller Peak.

That first day is a butt-kicker. You'll be starting the trail with 3 or 4 days of food and probably 3 or 4 litres of water (because there's zero water until Bathtub Spring). And you go straight uphill. If you're in great shape, then big miles might be realistic. But if you're in average shape and don't get an early start it's tough to make big miles. Don't underestimate how hard the first day is; there are only a couple of other days on the entire through-hike where you do that much climbing (climbing up to Manning Camp and climbing out of the Grand Canyon).

It's a great trail! Have fun!

AndrewAZ
04-23-2014, 17:36
Good luck in your hike, especially the southern half. It can get warm there in May.

I will second this. Even for a fast hiker used to big days, there are going to be some brutally hot stretches. The Oracle to Superior segment will be baking.

Walking Thunderbird
04-27-2014, 17:56
I will second this. Even for a fast hiker used to big days, there are going to be some brutally hot stretches. The Oracle to Superior segment will be baking.

Thanks for all the advice. Yes, I understand that it will be hot. That's actually a section that I have a question about. I'm plotting out resupplies (which will obviously change due to how the trail goes), and I strongly prefer ones that are near the trail. It looks like Patagonia and Summerhaven are going to be my first two, and they both look fairly solid from what I can tell. After that, it gets a bit dicey until Pine. Is the Roosevelt Lake Marina doable for a resupply, if only for like 3 days' worth of stuff? It looks like it's really close to the trail, which would make a midday stop reasonable. Thoughts?

StubbleJumper
04-27-2014, 22:15
Thanks for all the advice. Yes, I understand that it will be hot. That's actually a section that I have a question about. I'm plotting out resupplies (which will obviously change due to how the trail goes), and I strongly prefer ones that are near the trail. It looks like Patagonia and Summerhaven are going to be my first two, and they both look fairly solid from what I can tell. After that, it gets a bit dicey until Pine. Is the Roosevelt Lake Marina doable for a resupply, if only for like 3 days' worth of stuff? It looks like it's really close to the trail, which would make a midday stop reasonable. Thoughts?


1) Patagonia is good for a full re-supply. They have a nice little store with plenty of options.

2) Vail is a disaster. All they have is a Walgreens and a gas station, and it's like 4 miles off the trail. IMO, if I ever hike the AZT again, I would send a mail-drop from Tucson or Patagonia to La Posta Quemada Ranch, which is right beside the trail.

3) There's a little convenience store in Summerhaven, which would be barely adequate for a few days re-supply, but it's right on the trail. In contrast, Oracle has a couple of decent stores that have a good selection. I had no trouble hitching into Oracle, and Marnie at the Chalet Village Motel will actually pick you up and drop you off at the trail head if you phone her and ask.

4) Superior has a Dollar Store and a medium grocery store, so you can get pretty much everything there.

5) Roosevelt Lake - it's just a tiny marina store, so it would be a poor resupply. But, I sent myself a re-supply box from Oracle, so I had plenty of food. The store manager liked hikers and didn't seem to mind holding mail-drops. It's about a half-mile off the trail.

6) Pine has a nice store where you can get pretty much everything, and it's only about a mile off the trail.

7) Mormon Lake was working on reduced hours when I stopped there, so the store and restaurant were closed. It's only about a mile off the trail, but if I ever hike the AZT again, I'd phone in advance to verify their hours before descending to the facility.

7) Flagstaff has everything including a WalMart, Target and two large grocery stores, and it's right on the trail.

8) Tusayan had a large convenience store or smallish grocery store. Not a great re-supply, but it's only about a quarter mile off the trail.

9) Grand Canyon village has a nice grocery store with a great selection, and it's pretty much on the trail.

10) Don't count on much at Jacob Lake. You can get a meal, and buy some cookies, candy bars or potato chips, but it's a pretty poor selection for re-supply.

Walking Thunderbird
04-27-2014, 22:36
1) Patagonia is good for a full re-supply. They have a nice little store with plenty of options.

2) Vail is a disaster. All they have is a Walgreens and a gas station, and it's like 4 miles off the trail. IMO, if I ever hike the AZT again, I would send a mail-drop from Tucson or Patagonia to La Posta Quemada Ranch, which is right beside the trail.

3) There's a little convenience store in Summerhaven, which would be barely adequate for a few days re-supply, but it's right on the trail. In contrast, Oracle has a couple of decent stores that have a good selection. I had no trouble hitching into Oracle, and Marnie at the Chalet Village Motel will actually pick you up and drop you off at the trail head if you phone her and ask.

4) Superior has a Dollar Store and a medium grocery store, so you can get pretty much everything there.

5) Roosevelt Lake - it's just a tiny marina store, so it would be a poor resupply. But, I sent myself a re-supply box from Oracle, so I had plenty of food. The store manager liked hikers and didn't seem to mind holding mail-drops. It's about a half-mile off the trail.

6) Pine has a nice store where you can get pretty much everything, and it's only about a mile off the trail.

7) Mormon Lake was working on reduced hours when I stopped there, so the store and restaurant were closed. It's only about a mile off the trail, but if I ever hike the AZT again, I'd phone in advance to verify their hours before descending to the facility.

7) Flagstaff has everything including a WalMart, Target and two large grocery stores, and it's right on the trail.

8) Tusayan had a large convenience store or smallish grocery store. Not a great re-supply, but it's only about a quarter mile off the trail.

9) Grand Canyon village has a nice grocery store with a great selection, and it's pretty much on the trail.

10) Don't count on much at Jacob Lake. You can get a meal, and buy some cookies, candy bars or potato chips, but it's a pretty poor selection for re-supply.


Awesome. Thanks for the excellent rundown. I did some hitches on the AT when I did it a few years back, and didn't mind it since it was absolutely necessary in some places such as Maine. I was hoping that I could avoid getting in a car on this trip, but that may not be so reasonable. I also like flexibility, which mail drops cut into, since you have to wait for the box to ship and also have to be at the post office at the right time.

Your descriptions above are great. The only one that I'm a bit curious about is Roosevelt Lake. I know it's a small store, but do they have enough stuff that you could make it a handful of days, like snickers bars, etc? I don't mind resupplying out of convenience stores, as I'm not too picky about what I eat on the trail (I also don't cook, so that makes things a bit easier). I understand it's not a good resupply, but is it possible to get enough food to last, say, 3-4 days there? I'll probably be doing about 4 days to Pine from there.

I'll just need something to bridge the gap between Summerhaven and Pine.


Also would appreciate any thoughts you have on places to get hot meals on/hear the trail. I try to carry as little as possible, so I tend to gorge when there's available hot food.

StubbleJumper
04-28-2014, 06:46
Awesome. Thanks for the excellent rundown. I did some hitches on the AT when I did it a few years back, and didn't mind it since it was absolutely necessary in some places such as Maine. I was hoping that I could avoid getting in a car on this trip, but that may not be so reasonable. I also like flexibility, which mail drops cut into, since you have to wait for the box to ship and also have to be at the post office at the right time.

Your descriptions above are great. The only one that I'm a bit curious about is Roosevelt Lake. I know it's a small store, but do they have enough stuff that you could make it a handful of days, like snickers bars, etc? I don't mind resupplying out of convenience stores, as I'm not too picky about what I eat on the trail (I also don't cook, so that makes things a bit easier). I understand it's not a good resupply, but is it possible to get enough food to last, say, 3-4 days there? I'll probably be doing about 4 days to Pine from there.

I'll just need something to bridge the gap between Summerhaven and Pine.


Also would appreciate any thoughts you have on places to get hot meals on/hear the trail. I try to carry as little as possible, so I tend to gorge when there's available hot food.


Roosevelt Lake is just a little marina store at the end of a long dock. They have chips, candy bars, little bags of nuts, maybe some bread, peanut butter, etc. If you had to, you could scrape together a re-supply, but the choice is limited and the cost is a bit high. But, on the other hand, the store is also the place where you send a re-supply box. So, there's no real disadvantage of using a mail-drop because you can only buy stuff when the store's open and you can only pick up a box when the store is open. Equal lack of flexibility.

There are a number of places for meals on the trail, some of which I used and some not:

1) Patagonia - a few restaurants...I had pizza, which was good, but a bit expensive (ie, like $16 or $17 for a large).

2) La Posta Quemada Ranch - I walked the quarter-mile down and saw the restaurant, but it wasn't open. And I hitched into Vail anyway.

3) Summerhaven - I recall there being at least two restaurants, a pizzeria and a family restaurant. I arrived too early in the morning to get a meal (neither opened until 11am or something like that)

4) Pine - a nice micro-brewery with pizza, burgers, etc, and then farther into town there's a family restaurant. I ate at both places, and both were good, and prices reasonable.


5) Mormon Lake - I walked the half-mile down the hill, but the restaurant was closed. It was only open half of the days of the week for some reason (ie, Wed-Sat). Looked like it had good potential, and the store looked okay too, but I just arrived on the wrong day to get a burger and a beer and too late in the afternoon for the store (it closes at 3pm or something). You really need to phone ahead for this one.

6) LF Ranch - this is a quirky little place right on the trail run by an honest, but introverted woman named Marianne. She'll give you a bunk for $20 and meals for $10 each. The meals were very good and Marianne seems to understand that hikers are extremely hungry. Supper was an excellent bowl of homemade chilli, two hamburgers, a large salad, two beers, and a strawberry shortcake dessert. Breakfast was similarly hearty. If you want meals, you must phone her in advance and leave a voicemail telling her when you plan to arrive.

7) Flagstaff - countless restaurants.

8) Tusayan - there was a pizza place and then also this strange western style steakhouse with staff dressed as Mexican cowboys. I went to the steakhouse, and it was good but it was a little bit expensive. And I didn't understand why the staff was dressed as Mexican cowboys.

9) Grand Canyon - there are a several restaurants at the village. I went to a pizza place, which was good, but it wasn't cheap. In fact, there was really nothing cheap anywhere at the Grand Canyon.

10) Jacob Lake - this is a great little place to grab a meal. The menu is 1950s style home cooking, and the food is good. It's a couple mile detour from the trail, but I wasn't finding any water on the trail, and I was hungry... I slept outside about 300 yards from the motel, and left the next morning with a gallon of water. It's really not that much of a detour....

garlic08
04-28-2014, 08:51
All I'll add to Stubblejumper's data is that there is a four-mile hiking trail into Superior now, and there is a health food grocery in Flagstaff called New Frontiers within a half mile of the hiking route through town. I was very disappointed in the Roosevelt marina.

StubbleJumper
04-28-2014, 18:31
All I'll add to Stubblejumper's data is that there is a four-mile hiking trail into Superior now, and there is a health food grocery in Flagstaff called New Frontiers within a half mile of the hiking route through town. I was very disappointed in the Roosevelt marina.


Yes, I liked Superior too. There was a good grocery store operated by an Asian family and a dollar store. There were a few restaurants, including a nice bar/pub on the main drag, a good looking pizzeria, a Mexican place and an Asian food place. The food at the bar/pub was good and the pizza was good...and prices were okay.

The only bad thing about Superior is that accommodations were a bit more expensive, at about $68 per night as I recall. The only place that cost more than Superior was Patagonia, where the motel wanted your first-born. Otherwise, $40-50 per night was the general price range for a motel in Oracle, Pine, Flagstaff, and Page.

Walking Thunderbird
05-11-2014, 21:28
Just wanted to say thanks for the great advice. I bit the bullet and paid for the shuttle. Price is down a bit but still high at $133. They picked me up at the airport in Tucson and I was on the trail by noon.

Started on Monday and just made it to Oracle. Folks at the Chalet Village motel have been great.

Thanks again.

garlic08
05-12-2014, 09:39
Well done. Good start. Be safe and have fun out there. You got a dry stretch coming up!

betsi
03-21-2016, 00:10
Making some lemonade outta lemons and starting the AZT next week. Resurrected this thread b/c of all the awesome tips up-thread.

Any advice for how far we should try to get from the border the first day? I live in Phx and hear all the border propaganda. I want to be safe around the border but don't want to freak out about it either. We may stay in Sierra Vista the night before starting and get transportation to Coronado early in the a.m (rather than start in afternoon). Based on the upthread discussion (and Guthook), it seems like we've got 10.3 miles to the first water, plus a little more since we can't camp at the spring - so try for that at a minimum?

Also, anyone used Guthook's AZT ap? It was great for the PCT. Feedback for the AZT ap?

Thank you!!

garlic08
03-21-2016, 08:08
I remember a nice place to camp just off-trail a few miles past the bathtub spring. I also remember looking at at least one possible camping spot before the Mitchell summit.

You'll see and hear signs of high traffic, but don't worry. Sure there are bad people out there, but those folks are trying to get to work and are not out to bother you. All the interaction I've heard of between hikers and immigrants is about helping poor lost people with water and such. By comparison, I feel safer out there at night than I do in many parts of Phoenix. Much of the traffic is at night so stay off the trail then.

I didn't use an app, can't help there. Fred G's water page is indispensable.

betsi
03-21-2016, 11:41
Thanks for the practical, level-headed advice - much appreciated!

In reading other AZT threads, I've found some positive feedback on Guthook's ap...and we'll also carry maps for the southern passages, at least.

Found Fred G's water report last night - great info.

Am also considering switching to a z-rest or other foam pad - not psyched about it but trying to be realistic about the end result of taking my new neo-air into the desert. I just got a new neo-air from Thermarest b/c the old one was looking very moldy inside when I held it up to the light, and I'd like it to last a good long while.

garlic08
03-21-2016, 14:44
For sure, the Sonoran Desert is not a friendly place for inflatables. Have you ever run into the whitethorn acacia? I don't even carry flexible water bladders out there any more--Gatorade bottles are suitable, nothing weaker (a good tip from Fred G, as a matter of fact).

bearcreek
03-21-2016, 21:18
I usually use a neo-air but switched to a z-rest on the AZT. I had several instances of thorns coming through the tent floor and I am sure that the neo-air would have been punctured multiple times.

Coffee
05-13-2019, 14:52
I usually use a neo-air but switched to a z-rest on the AZT. I had several instances of thorns coming through the tent floor and I am sure that the neo-air would have been punctured multiple times.

Are thorns a big issue on the higher elevation stretches? I’m leaving for a section from Pine to the South Rim CG in a few days. I have a neo air, a pro lite, and a z lite to choose from.