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From Mexico to Utah — 43 days on the Arizona Trail

Carola „Bandit“ K.

From Mexico to Utah — 43 days on the Arizona Trail

Hiking Collection by Carola „Bandit“ K.

44

Tours

390:58 h

848 mi

95,050 ft

Having just crawled out of the Grand Canyon, tired and thirsty, I noticed the Arizona Trail on the hiking map. “This looks like a cool trail,” I thought to myself, intrigued. At the time, I didn't realise it was one of the 11 long-distance hiking trails in the USA known as National Scenic Trails — and that it was an epic 808 miles (1,300 km) long.

Upon discovering the staggering distance of the trail, I shelved the idea because I didn’t have enough annual leave. But the thought never left me. On the contrary, the longing desire to hike this unique and historic trail grew ever stronger.

Where there's a will, there's a way. And so, a whole seven years later, I find myself standing on the Mexican border. Armed with two trekking poles and with my essentials squeezed into a 60-litre rucksack, I began the two-month adventure.

In this Collection, you can accompany me on the greatest adventure of my life to date; through mountain ranges (because Arizona is not just flat desert), over old and new snowfields, into the paths of rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, past majestic saguaro cacti and into hiker-friendly small towns. And, of course, through the breathtaking Grand Canyon.

Let me take you into the daily life of a Thru-Hiker, where you'll meet lovely, like-minded fellow hikers. Thru-Hikers are exactly the kind of crazy people who walk a long-distance trail from one end to the other in one piece. They count their food by calories — and get as many of them as possible! They don't shower for a week and hike more than 30 kilometres (19 miles) per day. Once you become a Thru-Hiker, you never want to give up the lifestyle.

A few facts: The Arizona Trail runs through the entire state of Arizona; from the Mexican border in the south to Utah in the north. You cross six mountain ranges and climb a total of around 30,000 metres (98,425 feet). On some days, the ups and downs of the trail allow you to experience six of North America's seven climate zones within a few miles. Nights are almost always cool, sometimes around freezing point, while temperatures can easily rise to over 30 degrees during the day. The best season for the desert trail is therefore spring, starting in early to mid-March. If you want to walk it from north to south, autumn is the ideal time. Water is a critical factor at every time of year, making the Arizona Trail one of the most challenging of all long-distance trails in North America. One thing to remember: no matter how clear a stream is, you should always filter your water.

The Collection follows the classic 43 section division of the Arizona Trail, so it's easy to follow or split up as you see fit. I'll show you where to replenish your supplies, where to get water and where the best places are to spend the night under the stars. Of course, you can also hike the trail in individual stages. The towns of Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff are reasonably close and make good entry or exit points.

As Walt Disney once said: "If you can dream it, you can do it.” Do it! Hike your own hike.

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Von Mexiko nach Utah – Arizona National Scenic Trail

781 mi

88,400 ft

89,200 ft

Last updated: May 19, 2022

Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Passage 1: Huachuca Mountains – Arizona Trail

    Difficult
    10:48
    20.9 mi
    1.9 mph
    4,525 ft
    4,675 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Here I am. In the middle of the desert. After years of planning, it's finally here: the day I start the 1,300-kilometer Arizona Trail from Mexico to Utah. Only a narrow path leads from the Montezuma Pass to a rusty barbed wire fence that separates the United States from Mexico. Somewhere in the middle

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  • Difficult
    06:31
    14.1 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,675 ft
    2,000 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From Parker Canyon Lake it is only a few kilometers to the canyon of the same name. The babbling of the small brook, which can be heard from far away, triggers relief in me. In this harsh landscape, a stream can dry up within a few days. Water is an absolutely scarce resource in Arizona. A look at the

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  • Difficult
    06:59
    16.1 mi
    2.3 mph
    650 ft
    1,900 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Wide, open grassland and a stony path that winds through it. A black shadow appears next to me between the bushes. Whether the cow was more frightened of me or the other way around - probably only she knows. Again and again today I open heavy iron fences that adorn the Arizona Trail symbol. They are

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  • Difficult
    10:07
    21.8 mi
    2.2 mph
    3,125 ft
    1,975 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    After a lazy day in the cute town of Patagonia with a delicious breakfast in the only café and shopping in the only shop, we continue north. A few kilometers lead over a wide gravel road, then we sometimes muddle through the undergrowth. The Arizona Trail is currently being rerouted due to construction

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  • Difficult
    06:12
    13.9 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,325 ft
    1,300 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The sun is shining from the sky. But it's not stifling heat. In mid-March the nights are cold and the days pleasantly fresh. Sometimes we hike over wide gravel roads, sometimes the Arizona Trail meanders as a narrow path through dry grass.

    

    At Kentucky Camp we take a break, look at the old furniture that

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  • Difficult
    05:47
    13.0 mi
    2.3 mph
    750 ft
    1,900 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Dry grass, prickly cacti, rolling hills and red-brown rocks adorn the Las Colinas desert section. Not climbing a mountain range for a day is not that bad. But we pay for that with the price of water scarcity.

    

    We couldn't find the closest spring after the Enzensberg Canyon. And safe water sources are also

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  • Difficult
    06:26
    12.7 mi
    2.0 mph
    300 ft
    925 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    100 miles are done. So around 160 kilometers. On the last few meters just before the twin tanks, I have the feeling that the route is not going to get any shorter. My joints are my bottleneck again today. What is that? I'm actually practiced. Admittedly, the stones and boulders that are served on the

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  • Difficult
    07:05
    13.7 mi
    1.9 mph
    700 ft
    1,025 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Choose your campsite wisely! I learned that tonight. When I put up my tent near the railroad tracks, I had no idea that the trains would rattle all night. Felt through my tent. So it goes on a little bit exhausted today. But my mood couldn't be better, because today we pass the Colossal Cave Mountain

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  • Difficult
    12:56
    24.7 mi
    1.9 mph
    6,400 ft
    5,150 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Due to the proximity to the river, we pack a soaking wet tent in the morning and set off for the ascent into the Rincon Mountains - and into the first of two national parks along the Arizona Trail. We meander over 22 kilometers and a crisp 1,600 meters in altitude from the hot cactus garden over grassland

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  • Difficult
    06:11
    13.3 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,975 ft
    1,450 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today is record day! After spending two lazy days at Manning Camp, we have to make the route today. After all, one of us will be flying back to Berlin in two days. But scrubbing kilometers also means: simply to see more of the gigantic landscape!

    

    At the Redington Road Trailhead, we are surprised by Trail

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  • Difficult
    09:42
    18.9 mi
    1.9 mph
    5,050 ft
    2,475 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Days of separation. This section should be the most eventful of the whole trail for me. After the last incredibly beautiful kilometers through the canyon landscape at the gates of Tucson, my hiking buddy has to leave. Time to go on alone. As if that wasn't strange enough, I lose my vital cell phone and

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  • Difficult
    07:35
    15.3 mi
    2.0 mph
    1,775 ft
    4,850 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Despite the sunny weather, an icy wind whistles on the summit of Mount Lemmon. Shortly before Summerhaven, the little mountain village up there, I meet another Thruhiker: LarryBoy. Together we stand with tears in our eyes in front of the pizzeria, whose oven was switched off 15 minutes ago. I try to

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  • Intermediate
    03:40
    8.50 mi
    2.3 mph
    400 ft
    750 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    rrrrr zzzz - suddenly she lies in front of me! Completely dreamy, I walked through the rolling hills of Oracle State Park. Sometimes looked to the right, sometimes to the left, with a happy pace. It is 4 p.m. and the sun is already quite low. I jump back half a meter with a great shock when I spot the

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  • Difficult
    12:20
    27.7 mi
    2.2 mph
    2,550 ft
    2,575 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Before I set out on the Mexican border, I used a truck to store water reserves at critical points. So here too. One of my two water canisters, labeled with my name, is half empty when I arrive and there are heart stickers on it outside.

    

    “Who steals water and then sticks a heart on the canister?” When

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  • Difficult
    11:58
    27.6 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,075 ft
    3,300 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    I love the Tortilla Mountains. Not only does the name sound damn delicious - the postcard-perfect landscape also lets me completely forget about everyday life. There are no worries or hardships out here. Just the trail, the amazing view and me. Well and LarryBoy from Utah, with whom I keep talking about

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  • Difficult
    12:37
    27.6 mi
    2.2 mph
    3,950 ft
    2,075 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The heat has arrived in Arizona. In the next few days, the thermometer should climb over 30 degrees. Armed with my silver umbrella, I enjoy the section along the Gila River, which resembles a western backdrop. Majestic saguaro cacti and old railway bridges decorate the landscape. The sun is beating down

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  • Difficult
    06:09
    11.5 mi
    1.9 mph
    600 ft
    1,850 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Another super hot day has dawned. Even by Arizona standards, it's actually too hot for the beginning of April. We also hike one of the driest sections of the whole trail today. Around noon we hide under a small bush and have a siesta.

    

    We also notice that the temperature becomes more pleasant in the afternoon

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  • Difficult
    08:32
    17.9 mi
    2.1 mph
    3,550 ft
    1,100 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Leaving a cozy house is always a bit of an effort with a Thruhike. When Ranger, LarryBoy and I are dropped off at the trailhead after our trip to Superior, our paths get lost pretty quickly. "Hike your own hike" is the motto of long-distance hikers in the USA and means something like: Hike the way you

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  • Difficult
    14:07
    28.3 mi
    2.0 mph
    3,700 ft
    6,375 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    In the 19th century, a German immigrant is said to have discovered a rich gold mine in the Superstition Mountains: the Lost Dutchman Mine. To this day, hopeful people keep going to the mountain range to look for the legendary mine. I can say this much: it is not on the Arizona Trail. 😅

    

    What I find, however

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  • Difficult
    09:38
    18.5 mi
    1.9 mph
    5,400 ft
    2,000 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    With a rucksack full to bursting, I puff from the imposing Roosevelt Lake Bridge up into the Four Peaks Wilderness. Any pretty view is a good excuse for a (photo) break. And there are quite a few of them. Up to Buckhorn Creek, the chosen place to sleep, it is twelve kilometers with an altitude of 700

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    44
  • Distance
    848 mi
  • Duration
    390:58 h
  • Elevation
    95,050 ft

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