Bill Williams Mountain offers sweeping panoramas with 360 degree view

Pine trees greet hikers at the beginning of the Benham Trail, which leads up to the top of Bill Williams Mountain. Photo/Stan Bindell

Pine trees greet hikers at the beginning of the Benham Trail, which leads up to the top of Bill Williams Mountain. Photo/Stan Bindell

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Hiking the Bill Williams Trail is always a sense of coming home for me. In the 1980s, I lived in Williams and Navajo-Hopi Observer Publisher Doug Wells was kind enough to introduce me to the Bill Williams Mountain trails.

I would hike the mountain several times a year when I lived there. There was one time during winter that Wells and I went up one side and down the other. The side we went up was clear of snow. Not one drop, but when we started coming down the other side it was packed with snow.

We slid down part of the mountain catching ourselves on trees. It was great fun, but a couple of nicks and scratches were garnered along the way, which is why the friendly Forest Service folks would not advise this as a way of hiking.

Now I like to return to Bill Williams for an annual hike up the mountain to see how old Bill is doing. It reminds me of my wonderful years in Williams.

This remains a great summer hike. The cool weather is great for those living at lower altitudes, but Bill Williams offers great scenery of surrounding hills and mountains, as well as a diversity of tree and flower life.

Ponderosa pines, pinyon pines, alligator juniper and Gambel oak trees greet hikers on the lower portion of the trail. Douglas firs and aspen trees toward the top of the mountain are breathtaking if one takes a moment out from watching the scenery to look at the trees.

Ferns, Oregon grape and Arizona wild roses are among the multitude of flowers.

A fire lookout sits at the top of the mountain and the volunteer on watch is usually friendly for those who climb the steps to the top. Many who make the climb are happy for the 360 degree view from the top.

This nine mile hike starts at an elevation of 7,300 and climbs to 9,250 feet, but it is a slow gradual climb up the east side of the mountain. The trail on the west side is considerably steeper at the beginning of the trail.

There is no water along the trail so prepare accordingly.

Directions from Flagstaff (36 miles): Go south on Rt. 66 under the overpass then turn right at the second light. At 5 miles, merge onto I-40. At 29.8 miles take the Williams Exit #165, then go left at the stop sign to Williams, drive through town on Railroad Ave. to the 32.2 mile point where you turn left onto Fourth St. As it leaves town it becomes Perkinsville Road. Stay on this road for the 35.8 mile where you turn right onto the signed trail access road. Take this road two-tenths of a mile to the trailhead.

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