2012 February 4: Upper Walnut

Meet 8am (trying a later start time) at the Mitchell trailhead, near the corner of Arizona and 45th. Please be polite when parking. Our route will take us through the short trails of Upper Walnut Canyon, returning on the Perimeter Trail.

Distance and Terrain

Estimate 1.8mi, 240' for the minimal loop on mostly good footing. For those who want a little more, leader will probably continue to ramble about 2 miles roundtrip to the Natural Arch on difficult footing.

Actual: 4.7mi, 720', 2:07. Details in notes.

Weather and conditions

Looks like some snow overnight, with temps just below freezing at the start of the hike and just above after, hopefully sunny. Given the weather we've been having, expect ice, possible hidden by snow. Traction (YakTrax, Microspikes, Stabilicers) strongly recommended.

Actual conditions were quite snowy, with a few inches of new powder on top of a base that was up to several feet deep.

Leader's Pack

Note that your leader is packing as if for a full-day trip well away from civilization. If you aren't conditioning for such trips, you don't need to pack as heavy.
  • Wearing/carrying
    • Uninsulated leather boots, treated with water-resist
    • Midweight wool blend socks
    • Full gaiters
    • Nylon hiking pants
    • Polypro boxers
    • Short-sleeve synthetic top
    • Arm warmers
    • Liner gloves and wind-resistant fleece gloves
    • Uncoated nylon jacket/windbreaker
    • Buff worn as neck gaiter
    • Fleece headband (for the ears)
    • Sunglasses
    • Garmin Forerunner 310XT w/HRM
    • trekking poles
    • baseball cap
  • In/on pack (Osprey Atmos 50)
    • 1L water in insulated cozy
    • gorp
    • granola bar
    • first aid kit: elastic bandage, bandaids, ibuprofen, antihistamine, gauze pads/wraps, swiss army knife, moleskin
    • repair kit: duck tape, nylon repair tape, leatherman, repair wire, parachute cord, nylon webbing/buckle, matches
    • TP and double-bag for carryout
    • hand sanitizer
    • chapstick and sunscreen
    • camera and small tripod
    • headlamp
    • whistle
    • map, compass
    • full-zip WP/B pants
    • WP/B jacket
    • insulated pullover
    • long underwear bottoms
    • fleece hat
    • foam sit pad
    • microspikes
  • Emergency gear
    • canister stove and fuel
    • pot with lid
    • summer weight sleeping bag
    • lightweight nylon tarp
    • SAM splint
    • 1L extra water
    • handline


Deer in Upper Walnut Canyon

Upper Walnut Canyon

Bucks in Upper Walnut Canyon


The new snow must have scared people off, as this turned into another solo. The snow also brought the deer down from the Jemez, as Upper Walnut Canyon was full of them. While avoiding them I found a small cavate carved into the rock. The two bowls of the canyon hold snow very well and would be a nice place for some skiing or snowshoeing. It'd also be a wonderful place for kids to explore. Going up and down all the access trails added up to significantly more mileage than in Craig's book.

There's a heavily-used herd path between Arizona and the Perimeter Trail, which I mistook for the Perimeter itself and had to backtrack to make up the mileage. Looks like the Forest Service is preparing some pile burns to keep the fuel load down.

After the extra back-and-forth, the Natural Arch was off the menu.

See the track in Garmin Connect, download a GPX file, or view in Google Earth.