DAVENPORT
HILL: Kaibab
National Forest

Dogtown Lake & Bill Williams Mtn from Davenport Trl

Situated in the far southwest corner of the San Francisco
Volcanic Field–a swath of impressive igneous features that arcs from the
northern Arizona town of Williams to Flagstaff– Davenport Hill is an anthill
among giants.

Pines frame views of Kaibab National Forest

The 7805-foot mesa-like mound near Dogtown Lake 8 miles southeast
of Williams barely registers a blip on hiker radar and recedes when compared to
nearby lava domes and composite volcanoes like Bill Williams Mountain (8,800
feet), San Francisco Peaks (12,633 feet) and Kendrick Peak (10,418 feet). Like its contemporary mounts, Davenport Hill
sports a scenic trail that leads to its summit. For a less physically-demanding
but rewarding summit trek, a hike up this little hill delivers the goods
without the pain.

Summit of 7805-foot Davenport Hill
Lupines thrive in oak woodlands on Davenport Hill

Deeply wooded for its entire length, the trail twists up the
hill’s north face through several vegetation zones, terrain types and vista
orientations for a continually-changing sensory experience.

Small-leaf pussytoes bloom May – August

The trek begins on the Ponderosa Trail, a 1-mile
interpretive loop that passes through pine forests at the edge of green
wetlands behind the Dogtown Lake dam. The moist swale that bisects this easy loop is a
magnet for mountain bluebirds, robins, Steller’s jays, waterfowl, elk, bears
and furry critters. In summer the moist drainage area fosters Rocky Mountain
irises and dozens of other high-elevation wildflowers that add color to the forest
floor. At the 0.3-mile point, turn right at the Davenport Hill trail sign where
the route passes a gate before taking on the mountain in a leisurely mix of
short, steep climbs and lingering inclines. Although the trail ascends 755
feet, flowing switchbacks take most of the sweat and toil out of the climb. The
first mile is an effortless stroll through woodlands of Gambel oak, Ponderosa
pines and sunny clearings. The uphill trudge begins where the trail crosses
unsigned Forest Road 717 and moves onto the first of several edge-hugging
switchbacks.

Wetlands on the Ponderosa Trail

Now comes the best part—breaks in the tree cover reveal views of
the mountains and prairies of the Kaibab National Forest and the faint clank
and hum of passing trains.

A hike around Dogtown Lake adds 1.8 miles to the hike

Look carefully in the direction of the mournful rattles
and horns and you might spot a train snaking across the plains. On clear days, the bright white turbines of the Perrin Ranch Wind Energy Center can be seen dotting the plains 13 miles north of Williams.

White firs shade the upper portion of the trail

When operating at full capacity, the array of sixty-two, 262-foot-high turbines provide clean energy for more than 20,000 Arizona homes. Farther up, the trail ducks into a sheer
canyon shaded with moss-draped Douglas and white firs. The slim path traverses the canyon walls
landing hikers on the final uphill haul where picture-perfect views of Dogtown
Lake and Bill Williams Mountain dominate the horizon. Once past a second gate (with a stubborn
barbed wire latch) the trail emerges on the summit ridge for a short, flat walk
to the highpoint.

San Francisco Peaks seen from Davenport Hill summit

Robust stands of oak arch over the footpath that’s lined with
lupine and globs of russet basalt that confirm the hill’s volcanic
origins.

Wind turbines visible in the distance

A massive rock pile made of the
same reddish lava blobs (and artfully- arranged animal bones) found along the
trail marks the summit proper.

Lupines color the forest floor

Beyond the super cairn, views of the San Francisco
Peaks stand out on the northeast skyline. Given its position on the dubious side
of hiker radar; chances are pretty good that you’ll have this quiet mountain
top all to yourself.

Dense tree cover frames great views
A rustic gate marks the summit approach

Descend back to the Ponderosa Trail junction along the same path
but take the opposite fork to complete the loop. If you’re still up for more,
step out on the informal angler path that circles the lake for an additional,
easy 1.8 miles of shoreline hiking around the high-elevation fishing hole that’s
prized for its abundant trout, bass and catfish as well as for watercraft recreation.

Bill Williams Mountain looms over Kaibab NF woodlands
View from the summit of Davenport Hill

LENGTH: 5.6 miles roundtrip (not including lake circumference hike)

RATING: moderate

ELEVATION: 7050 – 7805 feet

GETTING THERE:

In Williams, go 3.8 miles south on Fourth Street (County Road
73/Perkinsville Road) to Forest Road 140. Turn east (left) onto FR 140 and go
2.8 miles to Forest Road 132, turn north (left) onto FR 132 and go 1.2 miles to
the boat ramp at Dogtown Lake campground. From the boat ramp parking area, follow
the Ponderosa Trail 0.2-mile to the Davenport Hill trail junction.

There’s no fee for day-use parking and there are restrooms
and picnic tables nearby. Camping is by reservation only.

INFO: Kaibab National Forest

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/kaibab/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=11671&actid=50