★★★★☆ Moderate / Alpine

Cross Aspen groves, butterfly dotted meadows and “wailing” forests on this alpine hike. The Escudillo Hiking Trail ascends Arizona’s third highest peak, passing healthy forests and areas burned out in the 2011 Wallow fire. Outstanding views await by the watchtower at the top.


TRAILHEADs: Forest Road 56, north of alpine    DIFFICULTY: moderate  •  DISTANCE: 3 MILEs (6 miles RT) •  APPROX. TIME: 3-4 HOURS  •  ELEVATION GAIN: 1317 FEET (94 STORIES)  •  APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 900-1,020 RT •  BEST TIME OF YEAR: may – october  •  PETS: YES  •  KID FRIENDLY: no  •  FACILITIES: none  •  FEES: none

Escudillo Hiking Trail; Apache Sitgreaves National Forest; Aspens; Alpine; Arizona; Moderate Hiking Trails; Pet Friendly Hiking Trails. Copyright azutopia.com. No use without permission.Despite Escudillo Mountain’s status as AZ’s third highest peak, the trail to the summit is a brief 3-miles long and not difficult. It kicks off towards the top of the mountain, between lush Aspen Groves.

Escudillo Hiking Trail; Apache Sitgreaves National Forest; Meadow; Alpine; Arizona; Moderate Hiking Trails; Pet Friendly Hiking Trails. Copyright azutopia.com. No use without permission.A little over 1-mile into the hike, gorgeous Tool Box Meadow opens up onto windblown pines and excellent views of the area.

Hikers; Escudillo Hiking Trail; Apache Sitgreaves National Forest; Fire Damage; Forest; Alpine; Arizona; Moderate Hiking Trails; Pet Friendly Hiking Trails. Copyright azutopia.com. No use without permission.After crossing Toolbox Meadow the path reenters, what is now the burned out remains of, the forest. On breezy days, an eerie wailing sound is resounds as the wind passes through the barren trunks.

Hiker; Escudillo Hiking Trail; Apache Sitgreaves National Forest; Meadow; Alpine; Arizona; Moderate Hiking Trails; Pet Friendly Hiking Trails. Copyright azutopia.com. No use without permission.Another meadow appears shortly thereafter. It ascends a gentle hill on an old service road.

Escudillo Hiking Trail; Apache Sitgreaves National Forest; Yellow Flowers; Butterflies; Alpine; Arizona; Moderate Hiking Trails; Pet Friendly Hiking Trails. Copyright azutopia.com. No use without permission.During Spring and Summer this meadow is filled with colorful wildflowers, and literalyl hundreds of happy butterflies.

Escudillo Hiking Trail; Apache Sitgreaves National Forest; Fire Damage; Logs; Alpine; Arizona; Moderate Hiking Trails; Pet Friendly Hiking Trails. Copyright azutopia.com. No use without permission.Reentering another stretch of burned out forest, the trail veers left. This next mile holds an unusual beauty, as thousands of felled trees shimmer silver and gold in the sunlight.

Hiker; Escudillo Hiking Trail; Apache Sitgreaves National Forest; Fire Damage; Peak; Watchtower; Alpine; Arizona; Moderate Hiking Trails; Pet Friendly Hiking Trails. Copyright azutopia.com. No use without permission.The trail ends just below a damaged, and now unmanned watchtower. In front of the tower epic views hundred-mile-views stretch to the horizon.

Total Nerdery

In 1965 Arizona’s very last grizzly bear was killed on Escudilla Mountain. Black bears still live in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. But no grizzlies.

Resources

Click here to download a trail map. (Courtesy of US Forest Service, Apache Sitgreaves National Forest)

Directions From the intersection of US 191 and US 180 (in Alpine), drive 5.5 miles north on combined US 180/191 to Forest Road 56. Turn right on FR 56 and continue 3.6 miles to a fork in the road at Terry Flat. Take the left fork and drive 0.5 mile to the trailhead on the right side of the road.