Located up on the "Arizona Strip" north of the Grand Canyon, Mount Trumbull is an extremely remote mountain, far removed from civilization and about 70 miles from the nearest paved highways. It is volcanic in origin, a shield volcano in which the peak was built up in broad layering, similar to the Hawaiian volcano peaks. From afar Trumbull looks like a long, gently rounded peak, and it is; the final half-mile on the upper reaches of the peak is fairly flat, the gradients very lenient.
Few areas of the United States have as little development and infrastructure as the Arizona Strip, which is the stretch of land north of the Grand Canyon and south of the Utah state boundary. Aside from a few ranches over the years and the various bands of aboriginal peoples who roamed up here, absolutely no development has ever taken place up here, and probably ever will, now that much of this region is under the protection of the National Park Service. A journey deep into the heart of the Strip is a step back in time - in a very real sense, this is how the land looked in 1900, as well as 1800, 1700 etc.
Mount Trumbull as seen from the west near the Hurricane Cliffs
Mount Trumbull is located in northwestern Arizona in the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, about 10 airmiles from the Grand Canyon itself and the famous overlook at Toroweap. For list geeks, this peak is the highpoint of the Uinkaret Mountains, the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument and an Arizona Prominence Peak. Whatever the attraction, it is a pleasurable dayhike through thick forest along trail with some route-finding. While the peak itself can be hiked in just a few hours, its remoteness and proximity to the Grand Canyon demands that you should allow at least an overnight, and preferably a few days, in the region. Toroweap Overlook nearby is amazing and should not be missed!
There are two principal routes to the trailhead, leaving from near Fredonia, Arizona, or St. George, Utah. The shortest route is from Fredonia and requires about 55 miles of dirt road driving to get to the trailhead. From St. George the one-way distance is almost 70 miles, of which about 65 is dirt road. In dry conditions the roads are in reasonable shape, prone to rutting and washboarding, with rocks and potholes for flavor. Four-wheel drive is not required, but high clearance is a must, especially if you plan to visit Toroweap Overlook. In wet weather the roads become a slick clay mess and are impassable, especially the route from St. George.
From Fredonia: Fredonia is located in extreme northern Arizona at the junctions of highways US-89A and AZ-389. From town, go west about 7 miles on AZ-389 to a dirt road on the left (south) marked "Toroweap 61". Simply follow this road for about 45 miles to a signed junction. Go right toward Mt. Trumbull, roughly another 8-10 miles further. The trailhead is about a mile past the highest point in the road, located near a small concrete reservoir at 6,500 feet exactly. Nixon Ranger Station is nearby. The trailhead is well-marked and easy to find.
From St. George, Utah: From I-15, exit Brigham Road and go east a few miles to River Road. Proceed south a few more miles. Pavement ends at the Arizona state line sign. Follow this road many miles up onto the Shivwits Plateau and follow the signs at the occasional junctions to the Mount Trumbull TH.
It may be wise to purchase the 100K USGS/BLM maps "Littlefield" and "Mount Trumbull" to track your route, and have the usual 24K USGS "Mount Trumbull" map handy for the hike.
There is no
infrastructure once you have left St. George or Fredonia. Have a full tank of gas
and have provisions in case you get stuck. The BLM recommends carrying two extra spare tires
. There are no towns and no visitor amenities out here. Stick to the main roads unless you have detailed maps and know what you are doing. Some roads are not patrolled and it may be weeks before someone else drives it.
Note on the roads: Quality ranges from wide and flat to slow and bumpy. Washboards and ruts appear out of nowhere... you can be zipping along at 40 mph then hit a bad patch, so be careful and take it slow. Watch for rocks and especially for the little fist-sized ones pointing up. I wouldn't recommend driving these at night, for this reason and since you'll miss out on the scenery. Despite the long distances it is a very beautiful drive, ranging from expansive grasslands reminiscent of the Great Plains to rugged mountain driving reminiscent of ... Arizona. Mount Trumbull is visible early on, even from Fredonia as a distant peak way off to the southwest. It is not visible from St. George.
No permits are needed to hike the peak. The Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument was only created in the late 1990s and as of now is just some lines on a map. Almost all lands here are BLM, with some state lands and very few private lands mixed in. It does not appear that the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument will ever be developed into a tourist destination. Its creation was more for the protection of the land from mining interests. There are no Visitor's Centers or really any buildings of any sort for the Monument.
Toroweap Overlook itself is within the Grand Canyon National Park, but fees are not collected at the Tuweep Ranger Station. In other words, it's free!
The Tuweep Ranger may or may not be in; they typically spend parts of the day on patrol. Be prepared for contingencies before you head into the interior.
When To Climb
Snow will cover the mountain in winter but more importantly the roads may be rendered impassable in snow and wet weather. Summer can be hot. Spring through Fall would be best, but winter ascents may be possible in dry conditions. Definitely contact the BLM offices in St. George for information:
Grand Canyon-Parashant NM - BLM/St George offices
There is also a BLM office in Fredonia along US-89A, south of the AZ-389 jct. It's open weekdays only.
Camping is free on BLM lands and on the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument. There are no developed sites that I know of nearby the peak, but we did see evidence of some sites near the trailhead.
I would recommend camping at the small but spectacular sites near Toroweap Overlook in the Grand Canyon National Park. It's first-come only and free. It has 8 sites and is set amid some spectacular weathered sandstone rock and below the massive Toroweap Point. Truly an amazing place!
See the above section for contact information.
Mount Trumbull - Ghost Town
If driving from St. George, the road comes to the old town of Mount Trumbull after about 55 miles or so. It has a schoolhouse (rebuilt after a fire) and some scattered buildings. The signs say the town reached a high population of about 300 during the 1920s, but the last full-time resident died in 1984. The school closed in 1968. The town was also known as Bundyville during its heyday.
Despite the supposed lack of a full-time population, we saw evidence that some people still live here amid some ranch properties, but probably no more that a dozen full time. Interestingly, some of the ranchers live in St George and commute to their ranch as needed. The Hurricane Cliffs extend like a wall to your north and south. Locals pronounce it "Her-a-kin".
Toroweap OverlookToroweap Overlook, May 2005
(Our visit to the amazing Toroweap Overlook.)
Don't overlook Toroweap Overlook!