Escudilla National Recreation Trail 308

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, Arizona

Elevation Gain1,499ft
Trailhead Elevation9,665ft
Elevation Min/Max9665/10871ft
Elevation Start/End9665/9665ft

Escudilla National Recreation Trail 308

Escudilla National Recreation Trail #308 is a hiking trail in Apache County, Arizona. It is within Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests and Escudilla Wilderness Area. It is 2.9 miles long and begins at 9,665 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 5.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,499 feet. The Escudilla Trailhead Parking is near the trailhead. The trail ends near Escudilla Mountain (elevation 10,876 feet) and the Escudilla Peak Lookout observation tower. This trail connects with the following: Government Trail #119.

Escudilla National Recreation Trail #308 Professional Reviews and Guides

"Reaching an elevation of nearly 11,000 feet, Escudilla Mountain maintains a real presence on the skyline of the White Mountains. To early Spanish explorers Escudilla’s broad top resembled a bowl, hence the name. Centuries later, the mountain greatly impressed noted naturalist Aldo Leopold during his tenure with the Forest Service in the White Mountains.

In his book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold states, Life in Arizona was bounded under foot by grama grass, overhead by sky, and on the horizon by Escudilla.” He goes on to elegantly describe the taking of Arizona’s last grizzly bear on the mountain. Today Escudilla Mountain is the centerpiece of the 5,200-acre Escudilla Wilderness Area, and the main trail to the top is a National Recreation Trail. Unfortunately, the upper half of the trail was severely affected in 2011 by the 538,000-acre Wallow Fire."

"This alpine hike takes you to the summit of Arizona’s third highest mountain, Escudilla Mountain in the Escudilla Wilderness. The Escudilla Mountain Trail starts up the south slopes of the mountain, and steepens is it begins to switchback through stands of quaking aspen. The final switchbacks lead into an alpine meadow with excellent views of Terry Flat to the south.

At the north side of this meadow, the trail crosses Profanity Ridge, and then descends slightly into another beautiful meadow. Here, the Government Trail joins from the left (west). Our trail continues north and climbs through fir and spruce forest to reach the fire lookout. Be sure to ask permission of the lookout personnel before climbing the tower. The highest point of the mountain is actually 0.6 miles to the north."

"In A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold writes eloquently and regretfully about a government trapper’s killing of what may have been one of the last grizzly bears in Arizona. Although Leopold and other foresters had never actually seen the grizzly, they had seen bear signs: huge tracks beside muddy springs and a grizzly-killed cow, its head reduced to pulp, “as if she had collided head-on with a fast freight.” Mourning the grizzly’s loss, Leopold writes: “Escudilla still hangs on the horizon, but when you see it you no longer think of bear. It’s only a mountain now.”

Mexican gray wolves have been reintroduced to Arizona in the Blue Range Primitive Area not far from the Escudilla Wilderness, and at some distant future time the grizzly may be restored to the wildlands along the Arizona- New Mexico border. In the meantime, all we’ve got is a mountain, but what a mountain it is. This trail guide covers an area with 3 miles of trails."

Escudilla National Recreation Trail #308 Reviews

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This hike was great. Lots of high alpine forest, meadow. Beautiful walk through the Aspens. There is a lookout tower at the top, although on our hike the view was obscured by low clouds. It is a fairly strenous hike as the majority of the climb is in the first 3 miles. After that the hiking is easier.
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I hiked this trail recently just at the cusp of autumn's end. A few of the abundant aspens were hanging onto their leaves must most of the trail was paved with gold and brown aspen leaves. The trail is a nice combination of uphill spurts and level terrain with beautiful views. A very uncrowded trail - I only came across one small group of equestrian riders and had a chance to see an elk herd at the edge of a meadow. During the summer and fall before the leaves fall the aspens create a beautiful backdrop of shimmering leaves that fill the air with a soothing sound. In late fall and early winter, the silence provides an excellent meditative hike! This is also a great hike to hear elk bugeling during rutting season in the early fall.

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Trail Information

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests
Nearby City
Escudilla Wilderness Area
Skill Level
Alpine Ranger District, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Escudilla Mountain; Apache National Forest
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018