This trail starts from Arizona Snowbowl and crosses the south side of the San Francisco Peaks at about 9,000 feet elevation, traversing some truly spectacular montane forest, aspen groves, and panoramic views. Although the full trail is about 6.5 miles long, it is popular for families and large groups to hike in only part way then hike back out. It is possible, however, to do the full trail as a point to point with car shuttle, retrace for a long out and back, or link with Weatherford and Humphreys trails for a really long, really spectacular loop.
What Makes It Great
Kachina Trail is popular all summer long, when tourist drive up Snowbowl Road to enjoy the fresh air and alpine tranquility of the San Francisco Peaks. The high elevation, shady Kachina trail stays cool even on the hottest days. During the summer, wildflowers bloom in nearly every clearing. Watch for colorful birds that are unique to these elevations and can’t be found elsewhere in Arizona. You can spend time exploring the many rocky outcrops along the way, and look for small springs that trickle from alcoves above the trail.
Fall is truly spectacular, when the aspen leaves change to gold. Don’t forget your camera if hiking this trail in September or October, when many of the leaves are at their peak. Though the air is chilly, it is usually bearable during the day through mid October. Expect cold temperatures and possibly snow once November comes around. Snowbowl road is well paved, and as long as it is passable, you can come up here to explore the winter wonderland that envelops the Peaks for a surprisingly long part of the year.
Who is Going to Love It
Families will enjoy a leisurely stroll starting at Arizona Snowbowl. The terrain is rolling hills with some rocky sections, but nothing too strenuous. Wander as far as you want along the well-established trail and easily return to the car. More intrepid parties can hike the full length of it to Schultz Pass, which is a net elevation loss but barely noticeable because of the constant ups and downs. All-day adventurers or hardcore runners can take on the Kachina-Weatherford-Humphreys loop, a 22-mile tour of the Peaks that climbs to nearly 12,000 feet elevation.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From downtown Flagstaff, take Humphreys Street and Highway 180 as if going to the Grand Canyon South Rim. About 7 miles out of town, you will reach the signed right turn for Snowbowl Road toward Arizona Snowbowl ski resort. Take this windy road up the mountain for 6.5 miles. When you get to the parking areas and fantastic overlook, turn into the first lot on your right and park all the way at the end, where Kachina Trail starts.
To access Kachina Trail from the lower end, take Schultz Pass Road off Highway 180 and park at Schultz Tank. Hike the Weatherford Trail for about 2 miles, then turn left at a signed junction, heading toward Freidlein Prairie Road. In another ½ mile you will reach the intersection with Kachina Trail on your right. Alternatively, you can drive in the long and bumpy Freidlein Prairie Road (high clearance recommended, closed in winter) from Snowbowl Road and intercept Kachina Trail from there.