logo Arizona Trailblazers
Outdoor Links
Hike Arizona
Trip Planning Guide
Trip Report Index
Calendar of Events
Little Saddle Trail Day Hike
Mazatzal Mountains
December 16, 2006
by Debbie M.
Little Saddle Trail #244 is part of the Arizona Trail.
Fire hydrant cactus grows along the trail.
rumps on a Yuletide log
Ten Trailblazers set out to make history on the Arizona Trail, a long distance, primitive trail beginning at the Arizona-Mexico border and stretching up to Utah. The Arizona Trail is still being developed and when completed will consist of 800 miles of non-motorized trail. The U.S. Forest Service is working in collaboration with the Arizona State Parks, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Managment to plan and create the trail, highlighting Arizona’s biological, historical, topographic, and cultural diversity.

To date, 600 miles are completed and open to the public. The trail is restricted to hikers, equestrians, and bicyclists.

On Dec. 16, 2006, Chuck, Beth, Michael, Barry and daughter Megan, Irena, Cyd, Cindy, Aaron, and hike leader, Debbie set out to hike a section of the Arizona Trail: the Little Saddle Mountain Trail #244. The parking pullout has a sign pronouncing the “Arizona Trail” but the trailhead is a bit obscure and the trailpost is hidden from the parking area. It was a cold morning and we needed to get moving quickly to warm up ... but we did pause for the obligatory group pictures.

Centepedes hike the Arizona Trail.

We were on the trail by 9:30 AM. hopeful that the sun would soon appear and warm things up a bit. It promised to be a beautiful day for hiking!

The first couple of miles of the hike follow Sycamore Creek along a rather antiquated fence line with an elevation gain of about 600 feet. There was very little water in the creek so we did not encounter any mishaps while boulder hopping.

Calling it the “cow patty” tree for lack of a better name.

The trail rises up out of the creek bottom, climbing another 700 feet. With the rise, came a warm sun and a wonderful display of Aizona’s unique environmental beauty. The diverse scenery offers breathtaking views of the Mazatzal Mountains with sycamore, cottonwood, pinyon, and juniper trees. The rock gorges are densely dotted with a wide variety of cacti, including agave, prickly pear, and barrel cactus.

The area is also reputed to be the home of mountain lion and javelina which led to a lively discussion of the habits of these animals. It was obvious that the trail receives little use and fortunately this day, we had the trail completely to ourselves: human or otherwise. The trail is well defined for the most part and easy to follow, but is overgrown in areas with prickly brush. One hiker joked about the mild bushwhacking, remarking to the group leader, “you would make Ted proud” — referring to the club’s infamous bushwhacker.

I’m a tarantula.  Don’t Tread on Me!
Our destination was a unique tree (excellent for climbing!) heavily fertilized with gigantic cow patties so the decision was made to take a lunch break before hitting the top. This was a good decision: when we finally made it to the top (3.25 miles from the trailhead), there was a serious wind chill factor going on. The real camera buffs presevered and shot some more obligatory photos while the rest of us tried in vain to find shelter from the wind.

In spite of the chill, the panoramic views from the top were well worth the climb.

By the time we headed back the way we had come, the sun had warmed things up nicely. We took our time on the return trip, taking pictures along the way and enjoying one another’s company. We stopped for a break on a fallen tree, waiting for the stragglers to catch up. We arrived back at the trailhead about 2:00 PM, took some more obligatory photos and headed back to the valley. The hike was awesome, the weather cooperated, and hikers provided good company for one another. Little Saddle Mountain Trail is highly recommended!

Photos courtesy of Cyd Cassel, Michael Humphrey and Barry Altschuler.

      top Top of Page
Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
Comments? Send them to the AZHC .

updated December 16, 2017