Connecting dots on the Arizona Trail

In the Southwest, the obvious draw for a marathon hike is the 817-mile Arizona Trail. Like many people with a day job whose long-term plans include hiking the entire route from Mexico to Utah, you can chip away at the miles in opportunistic grabs and passage-long chunks.

Turns out, this bit-by-bit style is the way most hikers approach the Arizona Trail. Sirena Dufault, AZT Gateway Community Liaison, says, “You don’t have to hike the entire AZT to enjoy it. It’s a ‘choose your own adventure,’ where you decide how much of a challenge is comfortable for you. Hikers who have completed the trail range from age 19 to folks in their 70s. Some have done it in 21 days while others section-hike it for a decade or more.”

Research and conditioning for a though-hike can take months and that it’s vital to understand the AZT’s special challenges of water scarcity, heat, elevation change and remote terrain where rescue is not an option.

This exceptional trek begins with a 1,400-foot ascent up a rugged drainage to Smuggler’s Ridge, a knife-edge saddle with see-forever views overlooking Sonora, Mexico.

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