An Arizona Trail Horse Expedition

by Dave Baker Thursday, August 13th 2009

One of the quiet success stories in the history of the Arizona Trail is the way that three distinct groups of outdoor enthusiasts came together and pooled their efforts to make the Trail the wonderful reality it is today. Those three main groups are hikers and backpackers, trail bikers and equestrians. Dave Hicks, Executive Director of the Arizona Trail Association, has told me that without this energetic collaboration, the Arizona Trail may never have come into existence.

During my walk of the Trail I came into contact with trail users from all these groups, and enjoyed hearing their perspectives on what the Trail meant to them. I ran into a man attempting an equestrian thru-trip and was very impressed when I learned how challenging it is to handle the problem of re-supply on long horse trips. Apparently, horses require a lot of water, food, and surprising to me, rest. I was told that a fit human thru-hiker generally requires far fewer rest days to complete the trip than horses do. Figuring out how to accommodate these needs, especially at remote and hard to reach trailheads can be a logistical nightmare. Another significant challenge for horses is navigating those sections of the Trail where deadfall from large forest fires can be stacked like giant pick-up-sticks, greatly impeding progress.

This fall there are plans afoot at Prescott College to traverse the Arizona Trail using horses and mules. Read about it here. This will be an interesting expedition to follow.


Comments (1) -

9/20/2009 2:55:12 PM #

Hi Dave, Larry was part of the first continuous horse trip on the AZT as 'official photographer'.  Logistics were tough!  Think of how much water you needed, then think of how much they had to haul in some spots!
Just got back from our third JMT; looking forward to next year's PCT!
Happy hiking!

Ellen Shopes

The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!