KA Hill • San Francisco Volcanic Field
• Kaibab National Forest
• Coconino County

The sign

The trail

The top

The sign at top and the top boulder

View to the south

Smoke plume near Kendrick Peak

Blacker smoke now

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Prominence Peaks


Date: June 7, 2017 • Elevation: 7,287 feet • Prominence: 487 feet • Distance: 2.5 miles • Time: 1 hour • Gain: 570 feet • Conditions: High clouds and warm

I had just hiked Davenport Hill and it was still early, so I wanted to hike another hill in the area before heading back to Flagstaff, where we were staying for a few days on a short vacation. I had selected a batch of small volcanic mounds that lie alongside Garland Prairie Road, which exits from Interstate-40 about five miles east of the city of Williams. In my optimism, I hoped to hike three or four this morning, but in reality had time for just a couple. I chose to visit KA Hill next, since it had a trail and looked fast.

From Davenport Hill, I retraced my driving route back to Kaibab Forest Road 140, which is Garland Prairie Road. The road runs about ten miles southeast from the Interstate to Garland Prairie, a big flat area about five miles on a side. Now heading southeast, I drove about five miles and then followed another road that cut south, along KA Hill's eastern flank. I forget the road's number and the exact mileage, but finding everything was cake. I parked in a small parking area for the Sycamore Rim Trail, rolling in about 10:30 a.m., the weather calm but warm. Mine was the only car here.

The hike itself went fast. I followed the trail west, coming to a sign saying the top is 1.25 miles farther. The trail gains slowly at first through a section of open ponderosa forest. Soon, it comes to the base of the hill and steepens. The trees and brush were thicker here. The trail made a couple switchbacks, then gained the south ridge of the hill. The trail started to level and quickly, I was at the top, the one-way hike taking 30 minutes. It was warm, but occasionally a breeze would pick up and cool me nicely.

The top features a batch of rocks and a sign. Scampering up the rocks was easy. I tagged the top, then snapped a couple photos. The trees and brush blocked most views, so I didn't stay too long. I rested and drank some water, but it was a little too warm, surprising given how high up I was. In the still air in the sun, it was downright hot. I hiked back down and was back to my car after 25 minutes. Counting rest stops, the hike had taken exactly one hour. Back at the parking area, one other vehicle was there, with a big "Just Married" written on it. The newlyweds, I presume, were nowhere to be seen, possibly having taken the Sycamore Rim Trail the other direction.

The big attraction out this way are the Sycamore Breaks, a canyon system that eventually leads south toward the Sedona area. These are impressive canyons, with rocky walls with lots of trails and camping areas. Back in 1998, I was here with my Mountain Rescue team on a training, the last and biggest one for our training class. We set up highline systems that spanned the canyons and enacted scenarios for two full days. It was a lot of fun. I would have taken Garland Prairie Road to get here ... but have absolutely no recollection of the drives to and from the Breaks. I know I have been on this road and in the area before, but just don't remember it.

I drove back to the highway and back to Flagstaff. Together, the two hikes had encompassed 7.5 miles and 1,320 feet of elevation gain, so I was feeling pleasantly tired afterwards, my first hikes after turning 50 years old. I showered and rested, and basically lazed around the place with Beth, plus taking short walks.

Later, we watched as a big plume of smoke billowed near Kendrick Peak. I got a couple photos taken from our hotel balcony. This was a lightning-caused fire that conveniently had started in an area where they were going to do a controlled burn anyway. The plumes were sometimes white and sometimes black and gray, and at one point, there were two distinct plumes that melded into one, presumably one being a backlit fire. This provided about an hour of entertainment. The other entertainment was provided by our neighbors, a bunch of laborers and workers working on a giant condominium complex behind the shopping center across the street from us. They'd come back to their rooms here about 4, quickly get blitzed on beer, all hanging out on the balconies, laughing and talking. They were totally cool and not a problem. They'd be crashed by 8 p.m. and were quiet after that. Couldn't ask for better hotel neighbors.

The next day, I hiked one more peak, Woody Mountain, then had a celebration dinner for turning 50. I had another peak planned in the Hochderfer Hills, but those are near Kendrick Peak and I figured given the fire and clean-up, I should avoid that area.

(c) 2017 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.