Hike to Escudilla Mountain Lookout Tower

Rate this Adventure 6 miles 1300 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Mark Nelson

A high-elevation hike through aspen stands with a great viewpoint at the summit. The trek also provides a reminder of what human-caused fire can do to the forest.

Already starting off at elevation (about 9,560 feet above sea level), you first travel through a large stand of aspen trees during the beginning third of the trail.

Depending on the season, the aspen can provide pleasant cover in summer, miraculous colors in fall and eerie creaking as the wind flows through their naked branches in spring and winter. You'll rarely come across many (if any) other people on this hike, so pause for a minute and take in the sounds, and the silence.

After clearing the aspen stand, you'll begin to see much more fire damage to areas of the hike as this part of the Escudilla Wilderness was impacted by the human-caused Wallow Fire in 2011, which at around 841 square miles is the largest wildfire in modern Arizona history. Caused by reckless campfire mismanagement, the fire damage has not been cleared on this hike and you'll have to climb over and under snags and downed trees for much of the final portion. The good news is, aspen trees love fire and you can already see many young saplings growing back with a vengeance just five years after the fire.

About halfway through, you'll come into a bowl-shaped clearing, likely where the mountain derives its name ("escudilla" is one way of saying "bowl" in Spanish). This area also provides a good spot to potentially see some wildlife. There are deer, elk and black bear in the area - as well as more recently introduced Mexican Gray wolves. Consider yourself the luckiest person on the planet if you spot one of the wolves. If you're up at the meadow near dawn or sunset, you'll have a better chance of catching a glimpse of deer or elk.

After a little more than three miles, you'll reach the summit. On a clear day, you can see for miles. It's a nice spot to rest, take in the view and enjoy the solitude. You'll also encounter the lookout tower, which was burned in the fire and is no longer in use.

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Tags

Camping
Photography
Hiking
Adult Beverages
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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