Abineau / Bear Jaw Trail

October 2, 2015


by Jeff Fargo

The Sedona Westerners' Saturday hiking group, the "Roughriders," recently hiked the well-known and very scenic Abineau and Bear Jaw loop trail in the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff. The hikers met in Sedona and drove to the San Francisco Peaks for this beautiful hike through the Kachina Peaks Wilderness Area. After leaving Highway 180 North, three carloads of Sedona Westerner hikers bounced their way over three different forest roads to arrive at the official trailhead.

The trailhead, located at about 8,500 feet, was situated in the Ponderosa Pine forest that is typical of the area around Flagstaff and the Colorado Plateau. Brad Bell, the hike leader, led the group down the well-maintained and well-signed trail and before long came to the junction of the Abineau and Bear Jaw trails. To ensure that all members were accounted for, Mike Holmes, the tailgater maintained the last position in the group and took a headcount when they stopped. After registering in the Forest Service trail log, the group started up the Abineau trail. The dirt trail, shaded by large trees, is considered a moderately difficult hike, due to its continuous upward climb. The trail gains about 2,000 feet in approximately two miles, before arriving at a spectacular overview of the surrounding forest and mountains.

Starting out in Ponderosa Pine forest, the group soon found themselves hiking through Douglas Fir forest, with many white Aspen trees among the fir trees. Passing through a group of Aspen trees, they noticed Spanish names carved into the Aspen trees' bark. The group leader informed them that these names were carved into the Aspens decades ago by the Basque shepherds who herded sheep along the same trail. The group spotted many wildflowers along the trail in the open sunny areas, and in the shady forest areas, the group saw plenty of mushrooms, moss, and lichen of various colors. After completing the Abineau trail in about two hours, the group stopped for a snack break at the highest point of the hike. The panoramic views of the surrounding forest and mountains were superb and the group took pictures to capture these stunning views.

The view that awaits you once you have climbed to the top of the Abineau trail

Following their break, they continued on this 7.1 mile loop hike by proceeding down the Waterline trail, which was once a service road to the water sources in the area. While hiking down the Waterline trail, the group encountered a mountain biker. He asked if they had time for a "cowboy poem." The group said "yes" and he proceeded to recite a long and very funny poem about a cowboy who tried to kill a bear to impress a woman. The group was delighted with this unexpected entertainment and thanked the man for his "cowboy poem." Continuing down the Waterline trail, the group reached the Bear Jaw trail and stopped shortly after that for a lunch break.

Lunch was in the midst of a dense Aspen grove and many of the Aspens had been carved by the Basque shepherds and other travelers of the trail. The hikers observed the carvings after lunch. The weather was ideal, neither too hot nor too cold, and although it threatened to rain during the hike, it did not. Following lunch, the group hiked approximately two miles down the Bear Jaw trail and arrived at the trail junction. From there it was a short walk through the woods to the trailhead, where the Sedona Westerners commended each other on a hike well done. They felt satisfied that they had once again gotten out in the mountains and forest to enjoy the best of what the San Francisco Peaks had to offer.

If you are interested in joining the club, please go to our website at http://sedonawesterners.org or just come to one of our monthly meetings. The next one will be on Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 7 pm at Saint John Vianney Parish 180 St. John Vianney Lane, Sedona AZ 86336



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