Abineau-Bear Jaw Loop

Area Status: Open
Hiking up Waterline Trail, approaching the top of Abineau Trail and the base of Humphreys Peak

From the Abineau (#127) and Bear Jaw (#26) trails, on the north slope of the San Francisco Peaks, you can see the Grand Canyon seventy miles away. These two trails make a scenic loop through forested canyons. Both end at the Waterline Road (FR 146) along the base of a long talus slope topped by Humphreys Peak, Arizona's highest point. The climb along either two-mile trail is steep and steady through stands of mixed conifer and aspen. The road completes the loop by connecting the top of one trail to the other, ascending 600' over two miles from the top of Bear Jaw Trail to the top of Abineau Trail. From this high perspective the Grand Canyon cuts a wide gap in a the plateau stretching from the mountain to the horizon. With the almost half-mile connector trail from the trailhead to the loop (where Bear Jaw and Abineau split to follow different routes up the mountain), the entire hike is approximately 7 miles long.

This route passes through an area colorful at all seasons of the year. In late spring, alpine wildflowers such as lupine, rocky mountain iris, penstemon and paintbrush splash the trailside meadows. Sunflowers add yellow in summer, and groves of aspen paint the slopes with crimson and gold during the fall.

You may spot a black bear here—perhaps the best chance you'll have around the Peaks. These big shy animals occasionally show themselves along these trails. Mule deer and elk are also plentiful. Common birds include juncos, Steller's jays and Clark's nutcrackers. In spring and early summer the melodious hermit thrush will serenade you.

Early in 2005, a huge avalanche did extensive damage to the trail in Abineau Canyon. Although the trail reopened by that summer, evidence of the avalanche still remains in toppled trees and gouged rock. 



Download a slideshow about the Abineau-Bear Jaw Loop (PDF)


At a Glance

Current Conditions: During the Winter, roads leading into the area are closed to vehicles.
Usage: Medium
Best Season: May to November
Closest Towns: Flagstaff, AZ
Operated By: Flagstaff Ranger District - 928-526-0866

General Information


Location: about 25 miles north of Flagstaff on paved and graveled roads.

GPS (Map): 35°23'33.0"N 111°40'12.7"W

Topo Map Quads: White Horse Hills, Humphreys Peak


  • Western approach from US 180 (high clearance vehicle recommended)Drive northwest of Flagstaff on US 180 for 19.5 miles and turn right on FR 151 (Hart Prairie Rd.). Drive 1.5 mile and turn left on FR 418. Drive 3 miles to  FR 9123J. Turn right (south) on FR 9123J and drive 1.2 miles to the trailhead.
  • Eastern approach from US 89 (high clearance vehicle required): Drive northeast of Flagstaff on US 89 for 12 miles and turn left (west) on FR 552 directly across from the Sunset Crater turnoff. Turn right at Forest Road 418 and go approximately 7 miles to FR 9123J. Turn left (south) on FR 9123J and drive 1.2 miles to the trailhead.


Click map thumbnail for a larger view.

Abineau/Bear Jaw Trails Map


General Notes:

Rating: Strenuous

Hiking Time: 4.5 hours (round trip)


  • No mechanized or motorized vehicles, including bicycles, in wilderness.
  • No access to Humphrey's summit from this trail.

Leave No Trace: Preserve wild lands for others by practicing LNT principles:

  • Pack it in; pack it out.
  • Dispose of waste properly.
  • Minimize campfire impact.
  • Respect wildlife and their water resources.
  • Leave only footprints; take only pictures.
  • Above all, plan ahead.

Bikes yield to horses and people; people yield to horses.Trail Etiquette:

  • You’re sharing the trail with others; be safe and courteous.
  • Observe regulations; stay on designated trails and avoid muddy areas and vegetation.
  • All users yield to equestrians; mountain bikers yield to all others.
  • Keep pets leashed at all times.


Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking

Difficulty Level: More to Most Difficult

Horse Riding

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
7.0 mile loop

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
8550 - 10,350