Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hike #41: Bill Williams Mountain Trail, Kaibab National Forest

Length: 6 miles

Although most people think of Williams as little more than a pit-stop on the way to the Grand Canyon, the beautiful Bill Williams Mountain Trail, just west of town, is well worth the time and effort (and trust me, the 2200 ft incline will take some effort.)

Built in 1902, the trail was originally used as a toll-road for horse riders passing through the area. Today, the trail leads to a collection of cell towers and a fire tower atop the mountain. From the extremely nice trailhead, the trail begins with a pleasant walk along the base of the mountain; however, don't be fooled - the trail quickly begins its ascent and continues climbing towards the mountain's peak! For the first mile, the trail passes through some fairly thin forest, which does little to cool and block the sun. However, within the second mile, the trail levels for awhile, and eventually leads to a much denser forest.

As you continue to the higher elevations, the forest continues to grow thicker and more lush - at points it almost feels as though the trail is going to be swallowed by the surrounding plant life! The final mile of the hike is an exhausting series of switchbacks, which can be quite challenging at times. Fortunately, this segment of the trail provides an abundance of wildflowers; in fact, I believe I saw more varieties of wildflowers along this mile, and along any other hike I've ever taken!

Finally, the trail joins a rather nice forest road which leads the final ¼ mile to the mountain's peak. At the top is a rather smelly pit latrine, a collection of utility buildings, and a lone fire tower. Visitors are welcome to climb the tower's rickety steps for an amazing panoramic view of the surrounding area. If you're lucky, a fire watcher will be manning the tower and can point out the surrounding landmarks (the San Francisco Peaks, the Grand Canyon, and Mingus Mountain.) After a rest at the top, the descent back the the trailhead is a quick and easy re-tracing of your original path.

To view more photos of the Bill Williams Mountain Trail, click here.

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