The Waterline Trail begins at the heart of Schultz Pass, traverses the northeast slope of the San Francisco Peaks into the Inner Basin and then continues north and northwest to Abineau Canyon. The views include the volcanic fields east of Flagstaff, Sunset Crater, the Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon ninety miles away. This old road (also known as the Watershed Road) runs along the base of a long talus slope topped by Arizona's highest point, Humphreys Peak. The southern portion of the road borders the Kachina Peaks Wilderness and from the Inner Basin to the Abineau Trail both sides of the road are Wilderness. Remember the trail itself is open to all non-motorized use (foot, horse, bicycle), but no mechanized vehicles, including mountain bikes, are allowed in Wilderness.
There is a chance you may see sign of the shy Black bear here. Elk and mule deer are abundant in this area. Common bird species you may see include: Dark-eyed junco, Stellar Jay and Clark's nutcracker.
These trails intersect Waterline Trail, and can make good starting or ending points for loops and shuttle hikes, or extending in-and-out hike.
Inner Basin: This trail actually follows Waterline Trail for about a half mile up to Jack Spring before it continues up into the Inner Basin of the San Francisco Peaks. From Jack Spring, it's approximately 3 miles to Bear Jaw Trail and 5 miles to Abineau Trail up Waterline Trail, providing two options for a 7 or 9 mile shuttle hike.
Abineau and Bear Jaw Trails: These two trails start from the same trailhead, then split after a quarter mile to take different routes up the mountain. Each are approximately two miles long, and top out at Waterline Trail approximately two miles apart. These three trails make up one of the best loop hikes in the Forest, particularly when the aspens turn golden in the autumn. Waterline's gentle grade makes it a welcome relief after topping either of these strenuous trails.
The steep slopes surrounding this trail were severely burned during the 2010 Schultz Fire. Hazards are still in the area. Trees weakened by fire damage and other loose debris may fall onto the trail at any time. Use caution! Stay on the trail, be aware of your surroundings, don't linger around large burned trees, and avoid the area during strong winds or rains.
At a Glance
||May thru November
||Flagstaff Ranger District - 928-526-0866
Location: 6 miles north of Flagstaff on graveled forest roads
Access: Drive 2 miles northeast of Flagstaff on US 180 to FR 420 (Schultz Pass Road). Turn left (stay on FR 420) at the FR 557 intersection. Continue on FR 420 for 6.5 miles to FR 146. Turn left and follow to the end of the road. Parking here is limited, additional parking is available at Schultz Tank. Equestrians should park at the Sunset Trailhead.
GPS (Map): 35°17'14.6"N 111°37'26.6"W
Forest Service Topo Map (FSTopo Geo-enable PDF):
Click map image for printable view.
Hiking time: 6 hours (one way)
Use Caution! This road is often travelled by Flagsaff City and U.S. Forest Service vehicles and during fires or other emergencies.
Motorized and mechanical vehicles and equipment, including mountain bikes, are not permitted in Wilderness.
An equestrian water source is available at Schultz Tank.