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Arcadia National Recreation Trail Professional Review and Guide
"Topped by 10,720-foot Mount Graham, the Pinaleno Mountains are the highest of southeastern Arizona’s sky islands. Surrounded by arid basins, this mountain range rises decisively near the town of Safford. In so doing it provides a dramatic shift in climatic conditions, which in turn supports flora remarkably different from that of the desert below. A hike along the Arcadia National Recreation Trail reveals much about the range’s ecology."
--Scott S. Warren, 100 Classic Hikes Arizona (The Mountaineers Books).
This is one of the worst trails I've ever hiked. The forest is badly damaged by forest fire, and the trail is generally abandoned and unmaintained. Large snags have fallen over the trail for the middle 3 miles, and you will spend significant time scrambling over debris. Because the forest is destroyed, the hike is not pretty. Give it another 20 years for regrowth before you attempt this trail.
This trial had a bad fire so many dead trees. The forest service placed close to 200 8" log water bars across the trail to stop erosion but it makes mountain biking this trail tough till it fills in in a few years.
Biking it I start at Shannon Camp ground and descend to Arcadia Camp ground. About 4.5 miles in length, the first mile is a 400' climb and then 2400' descent in the next 3 miles. Tech aspects as it's narrow and rocky in spots.
There was a fern section but hadn't grown back the last time there. Lots of shade.
Also ridden this trail in 2003 and 2006.
Courtesy of another member Abe: This trail is open to mountain biking but is challenging because of the almost constant braking necessary. Most of the middle of the trail is on a forested cliff. The top of the trail, going out of Shannon Campground is a 400 foot climb in the first half-mile, very little of it is flat as the description reads. As a mountain bike trail it's challenging and the numerous pine cones littering the trail make it only trickier. At one point in the trail it disappears in a field of ferns and you'll bike thru while being spanked by the soft ferns, beautiful. As a mountain bike shuttle start at Shannon and ride to Arcadia Campground.
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