Escudilla Wilderness

Area Status: Open


The Escudilla Wilderness has been severely affected by the Wallow Fire of June 2011. The area is currently open to public use and entry, HOWEVER - The trails may not yet been assessed or maintained for hazards associated with the fire.  The Escudilla Lookout was severely damaged by the fire, and there are overhead hazards to being in the area below - the lookout and the fenced area below it are closed to all public entry due to safety concerns

Please keep in mind that any area affected by the wildfire can be prone to hazards such as falling trees, flooding and burned out stump holes. The environment you are entering is highly susceptible to rainstorms and wind events. Any time you enter the forest, you should be aware of your environment and changing weather conditions. You are responsible for your own safety! Always look up, look down, and look all around.

You can see towering Escudilla Mountain from just about anywhere in the neighborhood (the neighborhood of eastern Arizona, that is). The Wilderness encompasses the upper reaches of the mountain, which at 10,912 feet is the third highest in the state of Arizona. It was this mountain that Aldo Leopold referred to in his article "Thinking Like a Mountain" where he arrived at the side of a wolf he had shot "in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes," an experience that he grew to regret and which forever changed his life. The last known grizzly bear in Arizona was killed here, and Leopold wrote: "Somehow it seems that the spirit of the bear is still there, prowling the huge meadows, lurking in the thick stands of aspen and spruce, wandering the steep slopes that looking down from is like looking out of the window of an airplane." 

Two trails give access to Escudilla Wilderness. The three-mile, maintained Escudilla National Recreation Trail #308, approaches the summit from the Terry Flat Loop Road and leads to a fire lookout tower, the highest tower in the state. The Government Trail #119 starts at the base of the mountain and also climbs to the summit as it ascends Profanity Ridge. You will find little water along these trails, but views that reach to Flagstaff 100 miles away.
The Wilderness Act requires management of human-caused impacts and protection of the area's wilderness character to insure that it is "unimpaired for the future use and enjoyment as wilderness." Use of the equipment listed as prohibited in wilderness is inconsistent with the provision in the Wilderness Act which mandates opportunities for solitude or primitive recreation and that wilderness is a place that is in contrast with areas where people and their works are dominant. 
Leave No Trace Principles
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace

At a Glance

Usage: Medium-Heavy
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is prohibited in wilderness. This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.

The maximum group size for overnight camping is 25 persons per campsite.

The maximum number of pack and riding stock per party is 35 livestock per group. The maximum number of people for hiking and riding day use is 25 persons.  
Information Center: Alpine Ranger District - (928) 339-5000

General Information



Take US 191/180 north from Alpine approximately 5.5 miles an turn right (east) onto Forest Road 8056.

For the Government Trail (# 119), continue up this dirt road for 1.6 miles to a road which branches to the left and is closed by a “Wildlife Area” sign. Park here and follow the closed road 1.9 miles to the point where Government Trail branches off and heads up the mountain. 


For the Escudilla National Recreation Trail (# 308) , follow FR 8056 for 3.6 miles from US 191/180 to Terry Flat. Take the left fork at the sign for the Escudilla Trailhead an additional 0.5 miles.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking

Recreation areas with activity Day Hiking:


Recreation areas with activity Backpacking:

Horse Riding

Recreation areas with activity Horse Riding:

Viewing Wildlife

Recreation areas with activity Viewing Wildlife:

Viewing Scenery

Recreation areas with activity Viewing Scenery:

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities