Another fine December day in Arizona. The Kendrick Peak trailheads are generally inaccessible by Thanksgiving, but with the current snow drought, access was still normal. There is more than one way to reach the trailhead. Coming from the west, I left the interstate at Bellemont and took Forest Road 171 north to the trailhead area. I don't recommend this. The road was passable in my 4-door sedan, but there were several dicey spots in the road where there were very deep ruts that had to be straddled and could hang up anything less than a 4WD truck/SUV if you went into one. A better approach is to drive through Flagstaff, past the Snowbowl turnoff and take either Forest Road 275 (7 miles north of the turnoff) or 193 (10 miles north) to the left (west). I did the latter on the way out, and while a bit rough in a few places, it wasn't nearly as dangerous to a car.
The trailhead itself is not as depicted on the USGS topo map. It has been moved more than a half mile west to a point around 7700 or 7710 feet along the other road that is marked on the map. This makes the hike somewhat longer than guidebooks indicate. Martin's book gives 6 miles round-trip and Warren's "100 Classic Hikes" gives 7 miles. Both give a trailhead elevation of 7980ft; there's no excuse for the latter book to be wrong except that like most guidebooks which go through multiple editions and printings, there is usually little attempt to bring them up to date. In any case, I got 4.6 miles with GPS for the ascent. The trail has a lot of switchbacks, although I'm not 100% sure that the route is really quite this long. However, I have seen other on-line sources give 8-9 miles and Mangum happens to exactly agree with my distance, so that's what I'm going with. Plus, the elevation gain I measured with GPS and my altimeter was too big relative to the slope of the trail to have come in just 3 or 3.5 miles.
The temperature was quite mild at the beginning of the hike at 0801, possibly above freezing by that point, under sparkling blue skies. Wind would be minimal during the entire hike. Parts of Kendrick burned in a major fire in 2000, so some of the forest on this hike is sparse. However, the fire damage wasn't quite of the degree I was expecting. I suppose it is the case that a lot of debris has been removed from the trail because there were only a couple of charred trees across the trail and those could have fallen recently. In any case, the trail is good, easy to follow, and fast. Kendrick is the only 10000-foot peak in Arizona north of I-40 other than those on the Mount Humphreys massif.
I can't say that this hike was very eventful. Pleasant, but not very exciting. It seemed to take forever to get close to the summit due to all of the curves and switchbacks, but I pushed pretty hard and the ascent took exactly 1.5 hours. (That's another reason I am a bit suspicious of the 4.6 mile measurement; it would imply an ascent speed above 3 mph, which is certainly possible, but perhaps a bit high.) You get fleeting views of the summit and its fire lookout tower as you zigzag up the mountain. At around 10200ft you finally reach the summit ridge and pass an old cabin in a small meadow. The switchbacks continue above this, with a few steep spots near the summit.
Although the lookout was locked, you can still get expansive views of much of northern Arizona from a concrete pad just past the summit. Unfortunately, the view back towards Humphreys Peak was muted by sunglare, but visibility was excellent everywhere else. After seeing it in my pictures from Humphreys I made a note to get a visual sighting of Utah's Navajo Mountain, 125 miles away as well as photos that look the same. The only snow I saw on the mountain was a few flecks in the shadow of the summit tower itself. The temperature was 34F on the summit with just a light northwesterly breeze and a few cirrus clouds. I hung around for a while, then uneventfully retraced my steps back to my car.
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File last modified: 27 December 2005