Arizona hike: Y Bar is a strenuous challenge

Although tame in comparison to some other notoriously arduous Arizona hiking trails, Y Bar has several opportunities to pause for thought. The trail is steep, rocky and requires traversing of talus slopes and narrow, cliff-clinging turns with deep drop-offs. On days when it’s clear of obstacles, this challenging trail in the Mazatzal Wilderness is achievable by most well-conditioned, adequately equipped hikers. The reward is expansive views of the Mogollon Rim.

Do not underestimate the slowing power of constant elevation gain and unstable footing. Bring along extra water and food as this hike will likely take longer than you estimate. Even the most athletic hikers will want to allow extra time to soak in the scenery.

The hike begins with a moderate climb through juniper, oak and agave with big views of the Mogollon Rim and State Route 87 some 1,000 feet below. After a series of switchbacks, the trail swings west, heading deeper into the wilderness. It dips into Shake Tree Canyon, then moves up along the jostled terrain of Cactus Ridge to emerge on a magnificent, windy saddle.

Here, 7,903-foot Mazatzal Peak towers above a craggy back country of rock pinnacles, scorched trees and fathomless scoured basins.

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