Pumpkin Trail is one of three routes up Kendrick Peak--the 2nd highest mountain in Northern Arizona. The summit rewards with commanding views of the surrounding mountains including the San Francisco Peaks (highest in Arizona). On a clear day, you can even see into the Grand Canyon to the north. Other highlights of Pumpkin Trail are baby aspen thickets midway up and spruce-lined meadows near the top. The lower half of the trail travels through a vast burn area from a wildfire in 2000, which makes a barren landscape but expansive views.
What Makes It Great
Pumpkin Trail provides an interesting tour of recent fire history on Kendrick Peak. A huge fire burned most of the mountain in 2000, leaving some slopes completely bare. The trail starts in a low-lying drainage that was not so badly burned, but soon climbs onto the mountain’s northwestern flank, which suffered some of the most severe fire. Here, all the trees were killed, but it is fascinating to see how wildflowers and saplings are regenerating after near-total destruction. Higher up are the baby aspens, which have been quick to fill in around fallen and charred logs.
On the mountain’s higher and steeper slopes, there are patches that stayed safe from the fire. Here, the old forest is preserved as a mosaic of aspens, conifers, and open meadows. Pay attention so as not to lose the trail on this last part that switchbacks to the top. One of the best summits in Arizona awaits you. There is a fire tower that is not normally open to the public, but if you get lucky the watch may let you up. There is also a concrete foundation that used to support another tower, but is now clear and makes a fantastic platform for viewing the Grand Canyon and the rest of the landscape.
For even more scenery, you can take Bull Basin Trail from the top of Kendrick Peak and loop back down to Pumpkin Trail.
Who is Going to Love It
Pumpkin Trail is a rather long hike, but of only moderate steepness for most of the way, so anyone with enough time to commit can make the journey. This trail gets less traffic than Kendrick Mountain Trail, which is far from a busy route in the first place, so for a quiet mountain hike Pumpkin Trail is a good choice. Anyone interested in fire ecology will find the vast burn area and patch margins to be an interesting case study, and nature lovers in general will find pleasure in the many types of flowers and foliage clinging to the mountainside.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Flagstaff, take US-180 to mile marker 230 and turn left on FR 245. Once on this dirt road, follow signs to Kendrick Peak. Pass the signed turn for Kendrick Mountain Trailhead on the right and continue 4 more miles to a right turn on FR 149. Take this for about 1 mile to the trailhead parking area. These roads are closed in winter.
Once on the trail, you enter the Kendrick Mountain Wilderness Area. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are prohibited. Horseback riding is allowed, and dogs are welcome on the trail.