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Arizona Trail / Tonto National Forest, AZ

Apr 2 - Apr 9, 2022 -- $1325 ★★★

Just an hour and a half Northeast of Phoenix, in the Tonto National Forest, lies a beautiful high desert called The Mazatzal Wilderness. The Arizona National Scenic Trail traverses much of this high wilderness area, featuring the massive and iconic Mazatzal Peak that at 7903' dominates the skyline. You can also see some of the Four Peaks, such as Brown's Peak and even as far South as Picketpost Mountain. We will hike over 30 miles of the hard-to-access Arizona Trail through the iconic Eastern portion of this wilderness

Our North to South journey will begin at the Doll Baby Trailhead and head along a dirt access road to LF Ranch, a working cattle ranch where we'll camp and join the Arizona Trail. The next day begins with a grueling uphill climb almost 2000'. From there, we'll be on the undulating high ridge of the Mazatzal Mountains, topping out at 6777' which might still have snow. Eventually, we'll wind our way around Mazatzal Mountain before heading back into the lowlands.

Why not escape your snowy climate and hike a warm (during the day) and wild section of the country to amazing places that cars cannot reach?


Weather is always an important concern when backpacking. Historical April weather averages in the high-70s during the day and 40s at night. However, be prepared for the possibility of day temperatures in the 90s and night temperatures in the 20s. We have experienced snowstorms in Arizona in 2006, 2011 & 2017 and 100 degrees in 2015 & 2017 so anything can happen. (Yes, both happened in 2017). But overall, expect a warm respite from your end-of-winter blues.

Probable Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg
Maxie Johnson


$1325 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Phoenix, AZ (PHX) as well as personal equipment, restaurant meals eaten off trail and any gratuities for guides.

Covered expenses include 2 hotel nights, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation, campground fees, permits, and awesome guides.

Tipping: In order to keep our prices competitive with (and hopefully favorable to) other outfitters, we shamefully can’t pay our guides as much as we think they deserve. Like most other guiding services, we rely on the generosity of our participants to make up this shortfall by tipping the guides. While tips are not required or expected, if your guides have served you well, please consider a gratuity so they can continue living their extravagant lifestyles of eating powdered meals, sleeping in the dirt and pooping in smelly outhouses and small holes they've dug.


Be prepared for freezing temperatures at night. We are at elevation and in the desert where radiational cooling and aridity causes temperatures to plunge at night, especially in the Spring.

This year's trip replaces our annual trip to The Superstition Wilderness which was devastated by the Woodbury Fire in 2019. The Arizona Trail passes through the Superstition Wilderness and Four Peaks Wilderness on its way to the Mazatzal Wilderness, our destination.

Be ready to carry as much as 8 liters (16 pounds) of water at the outset of some days. We've tried to keep the route and campsites near water as much as possible to minimize this carry.

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Saturday, April 2, 2022

Fly or drive into Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX)

Take free airport shuttle to Comfort Inn & Suites Tempe Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, 808 North Scottsdale Road, Tempe, AZ, 85281, 480-858-9898

Equipment shakedown

Trip to REI Tempe, 870 N 54th Street, Chandler, AZ, for forgotten or last minute equipment

Distribution of trail mix, make your own from ingredients we provide

"Before" body composition measurements taken

Go out to dinner (Dinner not included in trip cost)

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Second set of before body composition measurements taken

Check out of Hotel

Body temperature taken to check for possible Covid fever

We will either have a hotel breakfast, provide a continental breakfast (included in trip cost) or go out for breakfast (not included in trip cost)

Your spare bag(s) for safekeeping at the home of Fitpacking guide, Deb.

Drive 1.5+ hours to the Doll Baby Trailhead, elevation 3370'

Start hiking on FR #406

Hike 3.9 miles on FR #406 to LF Ranch, elevation 3683'

Hike about 0.5 miles on the Arizona Trail (#14) to the East Verde River, elevation 3297'

Camp near the East Verde River

Miles today: 4.4 miles. Total to date: 4.4 miles

Possible Bailout: LF Ranch

Monday, April 4, 2022

Hike 3.8 grueling uphill miles on the Arizona Trail (#34) to the Bull Spring Trail #34, elevation 5099’.

Hike 2.5 miles on the Arizona trail (#249) to Brush Springs, elevation 5225'.

Water is fairly reliable here

Drink a FULL LITER (or 2) of water here.

If there is a place to camp, dispersed camp at Brush Springs practicing Leave No Trace, elevation 5225'

Alternative: Cook dinner here. Fill all water vessels and continue on until a suitable camp spot is encountered.

Miles today: 6.3. Total Mileage: 10.7.

Possible bailout: LF Ranch.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

There is no reliable water tonight. Begin carrying 8 or more liters.

Hike 1.9 miles on the Arizona Trail (#249) to the Red Hills Trail (#262), elevation 6089'

Hike 2.6 miles on the Arizona Trail (#262) to the Mazatzal Divide Trail (#23), 6088'.

Hike 2.9 miles on the Arizona Trail (#23) to the North Peak Trail (#24), 5942'.

In wetter years, there is water in 0.1 miles at Wet Bottom Creek

Camp in "The Park", elevation 5942', a big flat-ish area near the trail junction

Miles today: 7.4. Total Mileage: 18.1

Possible Bailout: City Creek Trailhead

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Hike 0.2 miles on the Arizona Trail (#23) to the Willow Spring Trail (#223), elevation 5867’.

Hike 3.3 miles on the Arizona Trail (#23) to the Hopi Spring Trail (#42), elevation 6485'. Along the way, we will top out at 6777', the highest elevation on this hike.

Hike 0.8 miles on the Arizona Trail (#23) to Horse Camp Seep, elevation 6134’.

Camp at Horse Camp Seep, elevation 6134’

Miles today: 4.3. Total Mileage: 22.4

Possible Bailout: Rock Creek Trailhead

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Hike 0.5 miles on the Arizona Trail (#23) to the Sandy Saddle Trail (#231), elevation 5925’.

Hike 1.8 miles on the Arizona Trail (#23) to the Brody Seep Trail (#264), elevation 5730’.

Hike 1.0 miles on the Arizona Trail (#23) to the Barnhardt Trail (#43), elevation 6032’.

Hike 0.5 miles on the Arizona Trail (#23) to the Brody Seep Trail (#264), elevation 6058’.

Hike 1.9 miles on the Arizona Trail (#23) to the Y Bar Basin Trail (#44), elevation 6534’.

Camp 100 yards Southeast of the Y Bar Basin Trail. Water available at times. Elevation 6534’

Miles today: 5.7. Total Mileage: 28.1

Possible Bailout: Barnhardt Trailhead

Friday, April 8, 2022

Hike 5.6 steep downhill miles to the Barnhardt Trailhead, elevation 4200’

End of hiking

Miles today: 5.6. Total Mileage: 33.7

Possible Bailout: Barnhardt Trailhead

Shuttle back to Phoenix and check into Comfort Inn & Suites Tempe Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, 808 North Scottsdale Road, Tempe, AZ, 85281, 480-858-9898

"After" body composition measurements taken

Dinner and Awards Ceremony (cost of dinner not included in trip cost)

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Free breakfast in Hotel

Take Free Airport Shuttle

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

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