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Abineau-Bear Jaw Loop Day Hike
October 4, 2014
by Dave French
  GPS Map 
Group photo at trailhead: Sana, Alex, Andy, Dottie, John S, Linda, Quy,
Michael, Monika M, Monika H, John R, Wendy, Lance, Wayne, Dave

On a beautiful fall day, 15 hearty hikers met up to endure this challenging 7.6 mile hike. Some of the hikers drove up from Phoenix that morning, others stayed in Munds Park on Friday night and one is living in Flagstaff for the summer. We all convened at Target in Flagstaff about 9 AM and formed four carpools to the trailhead. We got started hiking about 10:25 AM in cool but bright sunshine weather. After a group photo, we hiked about 0.4 miles to the entrance to the Kaibab Wilderness Area and the point where the Bear Jaw trail goes to the left and the Abineau Trail goes to the right. Two hikers proceeded on Bear Jaw and the rest of us started up the Abineau. This description will follow the Abineau-Pipeline-Bear Jaw counterclockwise direction. This direction gets the steepest part out of the way first and avoids the steep downhill that is troublesome for this old hiker.

Entering wilderness.
Fall color on Abineau. [photo by John R]
Hikers consult with Wendy.
Hikers ascend Abineau among fallen trees. [photo by John R.]
Fall color on Bear Jaw. [photo by Quy]
Fall color on Abineau.
Looking north from Abineau.
Fall color on Abineau.

The Abineau trail starts out with a gentle up grade but gets very steep before the end. We were in lots of shade for more than an hour before we broke out into the sunshine. There were lots of fallen trees due to a snow avalanche in 2005.

The trail started at an elevation of 8600 feet. The aspen leaves in the lower part of the trails had not changed, but as we trudged upward we began to see lots of yellow/gold leaves. The aspen are mixed in with Ponderosa Pines.

We stopped occasionally to catch our breaths and let our legs relax before trudging onward and upward. The views behind us of the patches of gold aspen among the pines and the plateau in the distance was very inspiring.

We reached the top of the Abineau trail about 1 PM and stopped for lunch.

Fall color on Abineau.
Hikers break for lunch at the top of Abineau.
On the Pipeline Trail. [photo by John R.]
Bear Jaw turn off from Pipeline.

After lunch we headed down the Pipeline Trail and were happy for the ease of walking and the faster pace that it allowed. This trail is an old road built by the city of Flagstaff for a water pipeline. There was good fall color along the shaded trail and occasional great views to the north. We met Michael who had accompanied the one hiker that just wanted to do the Bear Jaw Trail as an up and back. Michael was headed up Pipeline to the Abineau trail.

Hikes gather at the top of Bear Jaw.
Fall color on Bear Jaw.
View from Bear Jaw.

The 13 hikers convened at the turn off to Bear Jaw Trail. Michael had placed a fallen tree trunk across Pipeline trail to make sure we did not miss the turnoff. The Bear Jaw trail is well signed at its junction with Pipeline but it would be easy to miss if one were not paying attention.

After a short break, we headed down the Bear Jaw Trail. We had a couple of brief pauses, but kept going until we reached the junction with Abineau. We tried to reach Michael by radio but were not successful. We proceeded to the trailhead and met the one hiker that had done Bear Jaw. About the time we arrived at the trailhead, we heard Michael on the radio say that he had reached the Bear Jaw/Abineau junction, so we were all relieved.

Yay! The trails are marked! [photo by Lance]
Pipeline Trail. [photo by John R.]
View from road leaving trailhead. [photo by John R.]

It was now about 4:30, so we quickly got ready to head back to Flagstaff. We agreed to go to the Lumberyard for food and drinks. Two cars with 8 hikers arrived together but found that the Lumberyard was jammed with an hour wait. So we scouted nearby restaurants and found a nice Tai place that could accommodate us easily. The other hikers decided to go elsewhere. We had a great meal and then returned to Munds Park to retrieve the other vehicles and gear and headed back to Phoenix.

Dara Thai Restaurant. [photo by John R.]
Fawn near trailhead. [Wendy]
The several individual GPS devices measured the length of the hike quite differently. Mileage recordings varied from 6.8 miles to almost 8 miles. The sign along the trail says 6.8 miles for the loop starting and ending at the junction of Bear Jaw and Abineau. The parking area for the trailhead is about 0.4 miles but you have to travel it twice, so that makes the trek 7.6 miles long with and elevation gain of about 1700 feet.

Thanks to John S. for providing maps to the trailhead and helping lead the hike. Thanks also to Michael for agreeing to do the hike in the clockwise direction to accompany the one hiker who wanted to do Bear Jaw in and out.

Supplemental Report

Eight hikers decided to take up Dave’s offer to stay at his place in Munds Park on Friday night. Three hikers arrived in the early afternoon so we could get in a short warmup hike. After lunch, we headed across the street to O’Dell Lake. The lake is full and backed up into the normally dry stream bed that feeds it. We had to do a little rock hopping to get across and then proceeded around the lake. We met a couple of fishermen trying to catch the little pollywogs that inhabit the lake. We proceeded up the street to the national forest entrance and then around the east side of the lake where we spotted a flock of Canadian geese. We proceeded off trail up the south ridge that overlooks Munds Park to an old hunter’s shack. From the shack there is a great view of the Pinewood Golf Course and I-17 leading northward toward Flagstaff.

Hikers near O’Dell Lake.
Canadian Geese.
View of San Francisco Peaks from South Ridge.

We returned down the ridge following a well-used elk trail and through a gate back into the private property area of Munds Park. We crossed the spillway and dam that forms O’Dell Lake. The lake level is almost to the top of the spillway which portends some flooding downstream if there is large snowfall this winter. We walked down the road to the Pinewood Country Club for drinks and popcorn before returning to Dave’s cabin, a trek of 3.6 miles.

Hunters’ shack.
View of Pinewood golf course and I-17.
Enjoying the fire in the pit. [photo by Quy]
Nine hikers ready to tackle the Abineau-Bear Jaw loop.

We started a fire in Dave’s fire pit and ate our light suppers. The rest of the hikers arrived after dark and joined us at the fire pit. The next morning Dave and Barbara cooked blueberry pancakes, elk sausage and pork sausage. After breakfast we took a group picture on the front porch and then loaded up to head to Target in Flagstaff to meet the rest of the hiking group.

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updated July 27, 2020