Your Complete Guide to the Arizona National Scenic Trail
The Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT) stretches for 800 miles, from Mexico to Utah, and this informative book is your guide. Through deserts, up canyons, over mountains, under dense forest, and into small towns, this non-motorized trail welcomes hikers, bikers, runners, backpackers, and equestrians. And the author seems to know every mile of it, as well he should: Mathew Nelson is the executive director of the Arizona Trail Association.
Arizona is a diverse state of high, forested peaks and immense desert valleys; of slot-canyon grottos and immense canyons. If you want to enjoy the outdoors in Arizona, and aren't quite sure where to start, then this book is for you. There are nearly 50 great hikes, from the northern forests to the grand desert valleys of the south to choose from. With photographs, topographic maps, and elevation profiles, you'll be able to choose just the right hike.
"Just because there is a trail through the entire state," Mathew Nelson writes, "does not mean it's easily accessible every step of the way." And that is why you want to have this 320-page book with you. It's full of maps, elevation charts, and photographs. Trails are graded for difficulty, main and secondary access points, distances, nearby communities, and even the best months to travel. Nelson also describes the fauna and flora, geology and history, water sources and shuttle opportunities.
The nearly four-dozen sections are organized from south to north; from the Coronado National Monument on our southern border, to the diverse Superstition Wilderness in central Arizona, to the 21-mile rim-to-rim hike in Grand Canyon National Park, where you'll gain and lose nearly 9,000 vertical feet in one day.
The AZT is one of only 11 National Scenic Trails, and you can spend a day, a week, or a lifetime exploring its twists and turns. There are profiles on the small, gateway towns, where you can soak your feet, resupply, or find a shuttle. You may find yourself on the trail in the company of bear, coyote, cougar, and rattlesnakes as you walk through their home. Besides describing the critters you'll meet, this guide also describes the diversity of plant life and the incredible geologic forces at work that formed this wondrous landscape.
There's also a chapter on Leave No Trace hiking and camping, so that others can experience a pristine landscape, as well as safety and backcountry information. This 320 page book (WIlderness Press 2014), printed on rugged, heavyweight paper, will fit easily into your pack, but the weight will be well worth it. Your feets might fail you now, but this guidebook won't.