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Escudilla National Recreationa Trail - # 308

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Trail Ratings
Overall Trail Rating
1 = Poor 5 = Outstanding

Scenic Views
Route Finding
1 = Poor 5 = Excellent
Technical Difficulty
1 = Easy 5 = Very Difficult
Trail Access
1 = Easy 5 = Hard to get to

This 3-mile walk (6-mile round trip) to the top of Arizona’s third highest mountain is such an outstanding trail that it has been given recognition by Congress as a national recreational trail. Click here for printable information and map.

This trail (# 308) is open to hiking and horseback riding - like all Wilderness and Primitive Area trails, motorized and mechanized travel is prohibited.

The scenery is magnificent, the surroundings are picturesque and the walking is comparatively easy, considering the heights to which you are headed. More of a pleasant stroll than a strenuous climb, this is the trail that the Alpine District recommends to outings groups to when they ask the Forest Service to point out a good day hike.

The climb up Escudilla starts out through an area that was burned by a huge wildfire in 1951. Evidence of the impact of that fire is apparent along the trail in the form of large Douglas fir stumps left from trees that were killed by the blaze. Those blackened snags were later cut in an effort to salvage what wood could be recovered in the aftermath of the fire. The stumps now are being naturally recycled into the forest ecosystem in the shade of a thick growth of aspens which has sprung up in the aftermath of the fire. This area is such an extensive example of natural reclamation that it has been designated a Research Natural Area.

After leaving the first aspen grove, the trail passes through stands of spruce, fir, and more aspen alternating with large open meadows as it continues the climb to the top. Along that climb, various overlooks provide awe-inspiring views of the countryside over which this sky island towers. The first views to the south and west occur about a mile from the trailhead at the top of Tool Box Draw. They're almost as good as those at the top of the mountain. If it's views you're after, you don't even have to walk all the way to the top.

Trail Log:

  • 0.0 Trailhead parking area.
  • 0.1 Enter Escudilla Mountain Wilderness.
  • 0.7 Aspen trees have been cut to increase browse for deer (Wildlife Habitat Improvement Project).
  • 1.3 Tool Box Meadow-panoramic views.
  • 1.9 Junction Government Trail (# 119).
  • 2.8 Spur trail to left, continue right on old roadbed.
  • 2.9 Spur trail on right leads to Bead Springs Meadow (no camping).
  • 3.0 Escudilla Lookout

USGS Maps: Escudilla

At a Glance

Usage: Medium-Heavy
Best Season: May through October
  • No motorized or mechanized vehicles (including mountain bikes) permitted in Wilderness. 
  • No camping at Bead Springs Meadow.
Information Center: Alpine Ranger District
(928) 339-5000
TTY: (928) 339-4566

General Information

Latitude: 33.91985833

Longitude: -109.1163389

Length: 2.9 miles

Elevation: 9,560 feet - 10,877 feet


Drive 5.5 miles north from Alpine on US 191 to Forest Road 8056. Turn right on Forest Road 56 and follow it 3.6 miles to Terry Flat. Take the left fork past Tool Box Draw 0.5 miles to the trailhead.

General Notes:
  • Extensive groves of aspen provide magnificent fall colors around the first week in October.
  • Area near the fire tower best suited to day use because of lack of water.
  • This trail experiences the highest use on the Alpine District on holidays and weekends.
  • Much of the area accessed by the trail has been designated a Research Natural Area.
Elevation desc 9,560 feet to 10,877 feet
Difficulty Level: Moderate


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