Escudilla Mountain: Arizona’s Hidden Gem

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of going on one of the most serene and beautiful hikes here in Arizona. Located in eastern Arizona not far from the small town of Alpine, Escudilla Mountain is the third highest stand-alone peak in the state at 10,912 ft. The trail does not lack in its challenges, but does not have that sharp incline you’d expect from its high elevation.

I call it a hidden gem, but it’s fairly accessible. It just didn’t have that foot traffic and popularity you find at most other trails in AZ. You need to take a forest service road to get to the trailhead and I think that’s a contributing factor as to why I didn’t see a lot of hikers on the trail. Could also be that it’s a long drive from Phoenix. Could also have been that it rained all day the previous Friday, and rained again while we were on the trail that Saturday. But I thought that was perfect. The weather was cool. the overcast blocked the harsh AZ sun from beating down on you. The trail wasn’t hard and dusty. Sure, a little muddy, but nothing too bad. The rain didn’t come down heavy, just that soft, constant drizzle.

The overall hike took my friend and I about four hours from the trail head and back. We could have done it faster, but we took advantage of the photo opportunities the views had to offer. Once the trail takes you up past Profanity Ridge, it opens up to this rolling meadow between two hill peaks and you can really see the landscape for the first time. And of course, it’s even better from the top.

Also, Profanity Ridge is about as much of a challenging incline as you’re going to get. The rest of the trail seemed like a nice, leisurely walk through some open meadows and thickets of Aspen and the bare remnants of trees that looked like dried out matchwood from the Wallow Fire that hit the area back in 2011. We were just walking along, talking and taking pictures, and before we knew it, we were at the top where a fenced off, dilapidated watchtower stood. It was from up there you could really see the extent of the damage the fire did. However, it is still a beautiful area and well worth the drive time and bumpy forest service road.

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