Location : Buffalo Park Trailhead (NOBO Mile Marker – nothing )
Weather: Clear skies, no clouds, starting temperature 52 degrees and the turn 77 degrees.
Total Mileage Completed : 13.8 on AZT
Hike Description: This hike is, kind of, a bonus and not officially on the AZT per se. The Blue Blaze trail or alternate route is a side trail created if a hiker wanted to come into Flagstaff for resupply. The combined north and south section mileage is slightly lower than the outer loop (Official Trail), which would be our hike’s #19, #20 and #26. The hike starts at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff, Arizona – Elevation 7123 ft and was a 13.8 mile out and back hike. Elevation gain / loss 1055 ft.
Comments: So….. We are back for another season of AZT Hiking. Taking 4 months off trail to do my Public Accountant job, I am free now to pursue the goal of Hiking to Arizona Trail in out and back day hikes. In my mind, the “Blue Blaze” southern trail was a good hike to assist in reconditioning and knock off the AZT bucket list. An easy drive to the Flagstaff trailhead and a nice flat short hike in the cool mountain air. Not officially included in the AZT miles (I think) Tom and I decided we wanted to touch every bit of the AZT, so both the southern and northern Blue Blaze sections will be hiked. Buffalo Trailhead is very accessible and popular trailhead for mountain bikers, local hikers, dog walkers and trail runners. Dale Schwwalter, the visionary of the AZT has a memorial park bench here. Tom and I both paid our respects and sat on the bench. We actually talk to Dale quite often while on Trail. I give Dale credit for all the hard work he and many others put into the creation and continuation of the AZT. As I sit here typing this, I wonder what our contribution is. I think it’s that everyone can do this. If a short accountant with high anxiety and retired guy can hike this thing, little bits at a time, you can to. Heck, why not…. It’s good exercise and it sure is nice to be outside….. Thanks Dale.
This hike takes you actually through the city of Flagstaff, so you get to pretend like a thru hiker or just a wondering hobo bum walking in town with a backpack, trekking poles and wide brimmed hat. I mean you are literally hiking down Bulter Avenue. Taco Bell anyone?
Once you cross south of the I-40 though, you’re back in the forest and heading down a ravine toward the Walnut Canyon area of the AZT. We touched mile marker 565 for the 3 or 4th time and then back to town we went. Being the first hike of the season I have to admit…. I was a little tired at mile 12 and needed a rest. Fortunately, there was a park bench. Kind of nice to hike in towns.
All in all an easy little hike. Tom and I will save the north section for later in the summer when we need a break from the tough trail sections and long drives.