|Lat/Lon:||33.95530°N / 109.1242°W|
|Elevation:||10912 ft / 3326 m|
Escudilla Mountain is located in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona near the New Mexico border. It is considered the third highest mountain in Arizona and like the others, is volcanic in origin. Though there are eleven higher named summits in the state, most are considered subpeaks of either Humphrey’s Peak or Mount Baldy. The name Escudilla is Spanish for a small bowl, and the mountain may have been named by early Hispanic settlers in the region, or possibly by a member of Coronado's 1540 expedition through the U.S. Southwest. In 1984 the Escudilla Wilderness Area was created, encompassing 5200 acres of Escudilla Mountain and the surrounding area of the Apache National Forest.
Two primary trails are utilized for this moderate dayhike. The scenic Escudilla National Recreation Trail #308 is used by most hikers while the steeper Government Trail #119 receives less traffic since it slightly longer with fewer views of the surrounding lowlands. They may be combined to form a loop.
The fire lookout tower on Escudilla Mountain is the highest in Arizona although it is not on the true summit. A climb to the top of it offers spectacular views into New Mexico and the surrounding area. Mount Baldy can be seen to the west.
The tower is occupied daily and permission should be acquired from the lookout before ascending the steps. Permission will not be granted if it is raining.
Elk, mule deer, chipmunks, and squirrels are commonly seen. Signs of black bear, coyote, and mountain lion are occasionally found, though the animals themselves are rarely seen. The endangered Mexican grey wolf has been reintroduced in the area and may be seen on or near Escudilla Mountain. The last grizzly bear in the state was killed on Escudilla Mountain in the 1930s, an event described by the early conservationist Aldo Leopold in his book "A Sand County Almanac". Currently, the grizzly is being considered for reintroduction in the region. Bird species that may be seen include wild turkey, three-toed woodpecker, downy woodpecker, mountain chickadee, raven, Stellar's bluejay, nuthatch, brown creeper, junco, and red-shafted flicker.
The Escudilla wilderness includes aspen (particularly on the Escudilla National Recreation Trail #308) and a variety of conifer species including old-growth stands of Engleman spruce, Douglas fir, and white fir intermingled with grassy meadows. Seasonal wildflowers are also encountered.
Escudilla Mountain is located in the Escudilla Wilderness Area of the Apache National Forest between Springerville and Alpine in eastern Arizona. It takes approximately 4 hours to drive to the Escudilla Wilderness Area from Albuquerque, New Mexico. The drive from Phoenix, Arizona takes roughly 4 hours.
To get to the trailhead from Springerville head south on US 180/191. After 20.5 miles turn left (east) on Forest Road 56. Follow the well signed road past the left turn for Hulsey Lake (1.6 miles from US 180/191) and the closed left turn for Watts Creek FR 56A (1.9 miles in). The following left turn (2.6 miles) is also closed and bears a sign for the Wildlife Habitat Area as well as a plastic blue diamond on a pine tree. This is where you park for the Government Trail #119. If you are interested in the Escudilla National Recreation Trail #308, continue another 2.1 miles to to a signed fork for the trail and Terry Flat loop. Turn left at the fork and curve past Toolbox Draw 0.3 miles to the signed trailhead (5.0 miles from US 180/191).
To get to the trailhead from Alpine head north on US 180/191. After approximately 5.5 miles turn right (east) on Forest Road 56. Follow the well signed road past the left turn for Hulsey Lake (1.6 miles from US 180/191) and the closed left turn for Watts Creek FR 56A (1.9 miles in). The following left turn (2.6 miles) is also closed and bears a sign for the Wildlife Habitat Area as well as a plastic blue diamond on a pine tree. This is where you park for the Government Trail #119. If you are interested in the Escudilla National Recreation Trail #308, continue another 2.1 miles to to a signed fork for the trail and Terry Flat loop. Turn left at the fork and curve past Toolbox Draw 0.3 miles to the signed trailhead (5.0 miles from US 180/191).
The forest road leading to the trailhead is maintained and passable to passenger vehicles under normal conditions.
No fees/permits are required for parking or hiking. Escudilla Mountain is located in the Escudilla Wilderness area so mechanized transport of any sort (including mountain bikes) is not permitted.
The normal season is from May to October, with October a popular month due to the changing fall leaves. Forest service literature notes that some ski it in winter. Snow or hail may occur any month of the year.
Arizona has suffered through erratic snowfall in recent years. Deep snow precluded easy access New Years eve 2005, but one year later we were able to drive up to 9500 ft where it was snow free.
Camping is allowed but is discouraged on Escudilla Mountain because of the small size of the Wilderness Area and the lack of water. Camping at large may be found on the Terry Flat loop past the trailhead. The nearest developed campground is the Alpine Divide Campground located 1.6 miles south of FR 56 on US 180/191. Water taps and toilets are available there, but no shower facilities are present. Fees for the 12 campsites are $6.00 per night and $3 per night for a second vehicle. A larger developed campground is available at Luna Lake, 5 miles east of Alpine on US 180.
Additional campgrounds in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest are available.
Non-camping lodging is also available in nearby Alpine, Arizona.
For current conditions on Escudilla mountain contact the Apache National Forest Ranger Office in Alpine at (928) 339-4384. They are located on the west side of US 180/191 as it enters Alpine from the north.
The Alpine Ranger District office may also be contacted in writing at:
P.O. Box 469
Alpine, AZ 85920
USGS quad: Escudilla Mountain
Note that the true summit is not actually marked with an elevation on the USGS map.
Andinistaloco - May 24, 2009 5:43 am - Voted 10/10Yo
Nice page - I already voted 10/10 on it, so I can't do so again. However, is Escudilla really considered the third highest mountain in AZ? Both Fremont and Doyle are higher, and they certainly have enough more than enough prominence to be considered independent peaks and not sub-peaks of Humphreys.
surgent - May 26, 2009 4:09 pm - Hasn't votedRe: Yo
I actually assumed ownership of this page after it was written and other than some photos, have not made any adjustments to the text since it looked pretty solid to me already. In any case, you may have a point. On the one hand, all peaks part of the San Francisco Peaks, which include Doyle and Fremont, would be considered as part of the Humphreys set, and all peaks in the Whites would be grouped in with the Baldy set. Escudilla is sufficiently far from the Whites so that based on this (arbitrary) grouping, then yes, it is #3 in Arizona. This assumes a fairly strict minimum requirement for prominence, and I assume the 2K minimum was used here (neither Doyle nor Fremont have this much separate prominence from Humnphreys). If you allowed a 1K minimum, then you might get a lot of other peaks above Escudilla, etc. This is the classic battle between an objective definition such as prominence or elevation to rank peaks, and the subjective "feeling" of peak rankings. So yes, this page is techically correct, but then, so are you. I hope you like my decisive answer! Personally, I have always avoided lists based on elevation alone since so many of the high peaks are subsidiaries of the range highpoint. Declaring a minimum prominence can create all sorts of lists based on height, and your choice of min prominence, being a subjective variable, thus creates a list ordered by height that is also subjective (dependent on the min prom required for membership). By sheer mass (mostly subjective), I'd rank the peaks thusly: 1) Humphreys and all subsidiaries (including Aggasiz, Doyle, Fremont); 2. Baldy; 3. Pinalenos (Mt Graham and its subisdiaries); 4. Chiricahuas; 5. Catalinas/Lemmon... This leaves out big stand-alone peaks such as Kendrick, Escudilla, Carrizo, etc.
Andinistaloco - Jun 7, 2009 11:21 pm - Voted 10/10Re: Yo
Thanks for the detailed response! I would absolutely agree with you in that it's all about what system you use... ran into the same problem myself while doing my Sedona Summits list. I tend to default to the rule popularized by Colorado (the 300-foot rule) but of course you can see how that wouldn't work so well in areas where the peaks are much larger or smaller. I had not heard of the 2K rule... wow. That would probably reduce the summits in places like Sedona to one or two! I wonder how long it will take for Arizona to have a more standardized system, like the one CO has (unofficially perhaps) accepted?
Gorg - Mar 16, 2010 11:52 pm - Hasn't votedAldo Leopold
This page could deffinatley use and excerpt detailing how escudilla is always on the horizon from Aldo Leopold. From him, I feel like I know the mountain yet i have never set eyes upon it.
holdennb - Aug 11, 2017 1:19 pm - Hasn't votedRe: Aldo Leopold
"Escudilla still hangs on the horizon, but when you see it you no longer think of the bear. It's only a mountain now."
Scott - Sep 16, 2020 5:58 pm - Voted 10/10Fire and lookout
The lookout is no longer occupied. It was burned by a forest fire in June 2011. The floor of the structure is gone and the lookout is fenced off.