Named after a legendary Arizona mountain man, Bill Williams Mountain offers a beautiful hike through pine and aspen trees. Spring and summer are great times to hike this peak, but it’s even more special if you wait for the leaves to start changing. No matter the season, you can enjoy spectacular Northern Arizona views from this classic summit.
Getting to the Bill Williams Trailhead
From Flagstaff, head west out of town on Rte 66 and hop onto 40 West. Go about 29 miles and get off at exit 161 for Golf Course Dr., last exit for the town of Williams. At the end of the offramp take a left onto Route 66, then take your next possible right onto Frontage Road. Go half a mile then make a left onto S Clover Rd. just after the sign with a ranger station icon. Go just a quarter mile down this road and as it curves left, you’ll see the trailhead parking on the right side. There’s a pit toilet next to the paved parking area, but no running water.
Hiking to the Bill Williams Mountain
You know you are in the right place if you see a sturdy Kaibab National Forest sign with Bill Williams Trail #21 written across the top. To start this hike walk the plank of pavement south out of the parking lot and into the forest. The blacktop path quickly turns to pine needles and dirt.
Flat at first, this inviting trail brings you away from the interstate and deep into a beautiful forest of tall pines. Just about a thousand feet in you hit your first intersection. The Clover Spring Trail #46 will be on your left, but you simply continue straight on your path.
A few hundred feet further the trail passes between two fences, and you’ll know you are on the right path.
At this point you will have also noticed diamond shaped green blazes along the trail. From here these blazes continue all the way to the summit. At the half-mile mark you will come to your second intersection – again the Clover Spring Trail (it makes a loop). Again, continue straight following the sign toward Bill Williams Lookout.
If you hike this in the Fall, this is where you can start to really appreciate the leaves changing. The pine trees relent a bit while aspens and other deciduous varieties start to show. It’s also where you come to the first mile mark which is conveniently indicated on a trailside post.
Another half mile or so up there is a dirt road to cross – again go straight through this intersection.
Again at the two mile mark there is a post indicating how far you’ve come. This is also where the beautiful aspen trees become even more abundant.
Just before the 3 mile mark the trail gets steeper and starts turning switchbacks. A quarter mile further up you will see another intersection, this time with the Bixler Trail #72. Once again continue straight on the Bill Williams Mountain Trail. About a half mile after passing that last trail junction you will come to a dirt road, and the peak’s towers will be in view.
Go right on the dirt road, then look for an almost immediate left back onto trail blazed with the green diamonds. This last section of trail will put you back on the dirt road again, which you then follow to the summit!
From the summit you can look southwest off the edge of the Colorado Plateau as it drops down, down, down to the Sonoran Desert. The views are extra special if you make it in time for sunset, which I think is the best time to hike this mountain. If you are comfortable hiking back down in the dark, those green trail markers you followed up are reflective, which makes it even easier to find your way back to the car.
The summit has a few communication antennas, but also a lookout tower. The top section is often locked, but you can still get up most of the way for an even higher vantage point.
Once you’ve enjoyed the view to your heart’s content, return back down the same way. Make sure you follow the green trail markers, and check that your following trail signs for Bill Williams Mountain Trail #21.
Bill Williams Mountain Trail Map & Elevation Profile
Bill Williams Mountain Tips & Resources
- Bill Williams Mountain Trail #21 – Kaibab National Forest
- Bring plenty of water, as none is available at the trailhead.
- Carry the 10 Essentials.
- Pack it in. Pack it out. Follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles.
- Things to do in Williams, Arizona – The Gateway to the Grand Canyon.
Arizona Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge – Summer Edition
This hike is part of the Arizona Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge – Summer Edition. This self-paced hiking challenge includes six hikes all easily reached from the Flagstaff/Sedona area. They are a great way to explore the area, train for bigger adventures, and you’ll be doing good, with a portion of the net proceeds going to support Big City Mountaineers.
Registration for the summer challenge runs between April 1 and September 15. Be sure to check out the winter challenge, too!
Originally hiked October 27, 2018.