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  1. #1

    Default Is there a section and time for best desert wildflower display?

    I would really like to do the AZT but I think I will have to do it in sections since I don't want to quit my job. One thing I would absolutely love to see is spectacular desert wildflowers. Which part has the best flowers and at what time of year?
    Some knew me as Piper, others as just Diane.
    I hiked the PCT: Mexico to Mt. Shasta, 2008. Santa Barbara to Canada, 2009.

  2. #2

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    In southern AZ, early May has the saguaros in bloom and a lot of flowers in the riparian areas. May can be awfully hot though.

  3. #3
    Garlic
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    Here's some info from people who really know desert flowers.

    What blooms and when really depends on moisture that year and your elevation. Mid-March to April is a good bet in the desert.

  4. #4

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    Thank you. I think a Mid-March to April hike would be wonderful. Now I just have to pick a staring place and distance.

    In general, what is the pace like in the southern section of the AZT? As a reference, I did a section hike last summer on the JMT and was passing or keeping up with the thru-hikers that were out there. As a PCT hiker myself several years ago I ended up doing regular 25-30 mile days. I'm pretty strong and a good hiker but I understand conditions are not the same as the PCT and my guess would be the pace would be about half. Do you think that's pretty accurate?
    Some knew me as Piper, others as just Diane.
    I hiked the PCT: Mexico to Mt. Shasta, 2008. Santa Barbara to Canada, 2009.

  5. #5
    Garlic
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    Your pace will depend in part on trail maintenance. You can check with the section stewards. If you have to bushwhack, especially in cactus, it will slow you down a little. But otherwise you can keep a PCT pace on the AZT. Most of it is built for mountain bikes and stock animals. There are some long waterless stretches where a fast pace will serve you very well.

    Route finding will be another variable. If the tread is overgrown and you're in cattle grazing areas, you might have a maze to figure out. Be thankful cattle do not build cairns. Map and compass could be very important in those areas. And generally, though sometimes it's difficult to know if you're on the AZT, you know pretty quickly when you're NOT on the AZT.

    Mid March may be too early in a high snow year to hike the "sky islands" (above 9000'). Mt Mitchell at the MEX border is one of those, the Catalinas near Tucson another. Check with the stewards a month or so before you go. The advantage of a high snow year will be better water sources.

    My first AZT section was from Hwy 60 to Hwy 87, across the Superstitions and Four Peaks, about 100 miles with access at both ends to the Phoenix metro area. It was a comfortable four days after an AT thru hike the summer before, even with some horrible bushwhacking in Four Peaks (which has since been cleared).
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Marta's Avatar
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    My son and daughter-in-law just moved to northeast Flagstaff. Their landlady told them last week that the AZT runs right near their house. They're looking for information about the trail. I know nothing about the AZT. Any recommendations for maps and/or guidebooks?
    If not NOW, then WHEN?

    ME>GA 2006
    http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=3277

    Instagram hiking photos: five.leafed.clover

  7. #7
    Garlic
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    Hi, Marta;

    They're probably on the "equestrian bypass" northeast of town. Most hikers take the "resupply route" that goes right through the center of town. Up on Mt Humpheys, after the routes rejoin, the trail has recently been rerouted away from the Wilderness to allow bike travel, but hikers can still take the more scenic and challenging Kachina Trail.

    All maps and guides can be found on aztrail.org. There's an interactive map feature, too.

    The AZT folks are pretty active in that area, especially in the summer. Your family can contact the trail stewards in the area for more information.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  8. #8

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    My mom sent me a nice AZT Association guide book for my birthday. It weighs a ton, though. Whose idea was it to make a guide book out of lead?! I've also found some helpful blogs, videos and trip reports. It looks like an awesome trail.
    Some knew me as Piper, others as just Diane.
    I hiked the PCT: Mexico to Mt. Shasta, 2008. Santa Barbara to Canada, 2009.

  9. #9
    Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes View Post
    My mom sent me a nice AZT Association guide book for my birthday. It weighs a ton, though. Whose idea was it to make a guide book out of lead?! I've also found some helpful blogs, videos and trip reports. It looks like an awesome trail.
    As Garlic mentioned earlier, the AZ Trail Association web site has lots of info and resources available. There's a data sheet showing milepost data, a water source list with updated status reports, and most beneficial, a list of trail stewards who maintain each section and are more than willing to give you more information. There's re supply info as well. You can get all the gps data you need. Buy the cd of maps ($25) and you're good to go. I think some info is only available to members so if you're serious about the AZT, spend the $50 to join and get full access (and help support the trail in the process). It's an unbelievable trail that traverses a wide variety of ecosystems across Arizona and covers some pretty amazing landscapes.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Marta's Avatar
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    Thanks, everyone. My daughter-in-law has been wondering how to meet hikers in the area. Joining the AZT association would be a good start.
    If not NOW, then WHEN?

    ME>GA 2006
    http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=3277

    Instagram hiking photos: five.leafed.clover

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marta View Post
    Thanks, everyone. My daughter-in-law has been wondering how to meet hikers in the area. Joining the AZT association would be a good start.
    I
    Or also check out the events page on the AZT website. The trail maintenance season is just starting in the Flagstaff area and there should be lots of events. Great way to meet folks, learn about trails and hiking clubs, and do some payback and have a great time while doing it.

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