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Heat Relief Up High

While the desert sizzles, Arizona's Kachina Peaks are cool and comfortable.

QUICK TAKE: Kachina Peaks Wilderness, Arizona

DRIVE TIME: The Kachina Peaks Wilderness is located in northern Arizona, 134 miles north of Phoenix (21/2 hours).

THE WAY: From Phoenix, take I-17 north to Flagstaff. Then take US 180 northwest out of town for 6 miles to Snowbowl Road (FS 516). Turn right (north) and drive 8 miles up the mountain to the Snow Bowl Ski Area. Drive into the first parking lot on the right (south). The Kachina Trailhead is located at the end of the parking lot.

TRAILS: Kachina Peaks Wilderness and adjoining national forest contain 13 trails covering a total of 53 miles.

ELEVATION: The lowest point in the wilderness is about 7,400 feet, the high point is 12,633-foot Humphreys Peak.

CAN’T MISS: Some aspen stands are carved with “dendroglyphs” left by Basque sheep herders some 70 years ago.

CROWD CONTROL: You shake the dayhikers on popular trails merely by backpacking 5 miles into the wilderness.

MAPS: USGS Humphreys Peak and White Horse Hills 7.5-minute topographic maps cover the Kachina Peaks Wilderness. These can be purchased in advance by calling (800) 872-6277, or last-minute at Flagstaff outdoor stores. A good trail guide to the area is Flagstaff Hikes, by Richard and Sherry Mangum ($14.95, from Hexagon Press, 520-774-8800).

PIT STOP: Flagstaff has plenty of outdoor stores for last-minute purchases. Among the best are Babbitt Brothers and Peace Surplus.

WALK SOFTLY: When possible camp in meadows because the grassy surface is more resistant to trampling than the forest floor. Stay on established trails when hiking above treeline to protect fragile tundra vegetation.

MORE INFORMATION: Peaks Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 5075 N. Highway 89, Flagstaff, AZ 86004; (520) 526-0866.

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