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Kachina Trail Day Hike
August 29, 2020
by Li Li
  GPS Map 
At Kachina Trailhead. [photo by Li]
Mark, Li, David, Tom, Gabe, Kevin, John

Kachina Trail is located at the foot of Humphrey’s Peak. It is home to gigantic limber pines, massive Douglas firs, and endless quaking aspens. If you would like to hike to high altitudes but avoid the steep inclines, this is your ideal trail.

Seven elite Arizona Trailblazers congregated around 9 AM on August 29, Saturday morning, at Kachina trailhead. It was a cool morning: temperatures were around 50 degrees and the sky was clear. Everyone was excited to get warmed up on the trail.

Li gives us instructions the trailhead. [photo by Tom]
hikers hikers
On the trail. [photos by Li]
Not all trees fall across the trail. [photo by John]
Hikers thread their way around obstacles. [photo by Tom]
Featured in Arizona Highways. [photo by Li]

After taking a group picture at the trailhead, we walked into the forest. There are lots of giant ponderosas on the sides of the trail. I spotted the big pine that was featured in a picture in Arizona Highways magazine.

We moved fast during the first two miles. This trail has a few gradual descents and ascents at the beginning of the hike. The exposed roots of the gigantic trees make the trail look rather unique, although they could also be a hazard if your foot gets caught in them. Scattered boulders and interesting rock formations can be seen if you pay attention.

Soon we reached the large rock wall which had lots of yellowish wildflowers growing out from the cracked stone, forming the unique hanging garden. A few hundred feet away from this rock wall, there is cave which was formed 600,000 years ago from a volcanic eruption.

We used this cave as shelter during the 2018 hike to avoid rain, thunder and lighting. Tom and I always laugh at it when we pass this area, since it brings back terrifying memories of that hike.

Hanging garden. [photo by Li]
Li, Tom, and the cave. [photo by Li]
Group picture at the cave. [photo by Li]

We took a second group picture here then descended along the trail. I like Kachina Trail, since it has a variety of geological variations. The trail changes from pines dominating the forest at the beginning to the mixture of large pines and shivering aspens with occasional spruces. The giant green and sun-burned yellow ferns covered the ground like a thick carpet with many colorful wildflowers blooming on the sides of the trail, creating a very pleasant scene.

Walking through the ferns. [photo by Li]
Colorful wildflowers. [photos by Li]
red yellow
purple white
white white
yellow red
purple blue
Mark. [photo by Li]
Logs make excellent benches for a snack break. [photo by Li]
Wood among the ferns. [photo by Li]

At the 3 mile mark, over the right side of the hill we were greeted with a fantastic view of the town of Flagstaff. You could see the observatory’s white dome building and the campus of Northern Arizona University.

We took our first snack break here to rest our mildly fatigued legs and enjoy the view that Kachina offered. John, who had not hiked for a month, planned to turn around at this point. Kevin suggested for him to go a little further to see the amazing massive meadow with grass hills and mountains of Agassiz and Fremont Peaks, since it was not far from where we were. John gladly agreed. So after a small break, the group went on with Dave in the lead, and continued our journey to explore further on the trail. We walked about half a mile from our resting area, through the tall pines and aspens on the left side through which you could get a glance of the mountain peaks, and right in front of us was the beautiful meadow.

We took a group picture before moving on. [photo by Li]
A medley of colors! [photo by Li]
Now look at the camera, everyone. [photo by Li]

The light yellow greenish grasses on the ground surrounded by the beautiful tall white barked aspens and green leafy pines with two spectacular mountain peaks in the background created an oil painting with a tranquility that brought peace to us all. We took group photos before John turned around. Everyone was in very high spirits!

Carrying a child. [photo by Li]

After parting with John we continued heading south, and a quarter mile in, there was a large meadow where you could see the majestic Agassiz and Fremont Peaks in the background. It was breathtaking and beautiful scenery! We took lots of pictures. The rest of the trail took place through the forest, with us seeing magnificent ponderosas and splendid beautiful tall aspens, until we reached the trail junction around lunch time.

We took a well deserved lunch break and saw a group of climbers carrying large crash pads passing in front of us which including a little child.

I admired their bravery—mountain bouldering is not easy, let alone carrying a large mattress-like pad across the forest. Hiking on the hills at this attitude was hard enough.

Carrying mattress-like pads across the forest. [photo by Li]

On the way back I was concerned about rain and weather changes, though Mark, our hiking meteorologist, comforted me with good predictions. Although Mark is a pharmacist, his meteorology skills impressed me on last year’s Roger’s Loop hike. Just like he predicted, no rain occurred. Everyone made it fine. Dave finished the entire trail, although he was planing to do only part of it in the beginning. He was in the lead all the way from the meadow to the trail junction. I was amazed by his determination and persistence.

Kachina Peaks Wilderness sign. [photo by Li]
I like it in the wilderness. [photo by Li]

I was so happy I did this trail again this year and grateful that Tom was willing to co-lead with me. Everyone was so pleasant and we all had a good time. I took lots of pictures to capture the wonderful memories of this hike.

→   More pictures, by Li
→   More pictures, by John
→   More pictures, by Tom
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated September 3, 2020