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Mazatzal Wilderness Overview - Tonto National Forest

The Mazatzal Wilderness is a very large area (250,000 acres) encompassing the north western section of the Tonto National Forest.  The wilderness was established in 1940 and expanded to its present size in 1984.  The name is correctly pronounced 'Mah-zaht-zahl' sort of like 'Matzo ball' not to be confused with the Casino which is pronounced 'Ma-te-zel' ..... go figure.

Elevations range from 1,600 feet at the Verde River to Mazatzal Peak which tops out at 7,903 feet (expect snow in the winter).  The plant life is typical for this portion of Arizona with Lower Sonoran vegetation at the lower altitudes, grassy chaparral as you climb the slopes and mixed conifers towards the upper regions.

The Mazatzals provide a terrific opportunity to really get away from civilization (with the exception of the Bernhardt Trailhead where most people visiting the area may be found).  The drawback is that many trails are seldom used, making them quite overgrown and difficult to follow.  If that weren't enough some of the trailheads may be hard to get to as well.  The good news is that with the less enthusiastic individuals having been turned aside by the daunting remoteness, stupefying adversity and the alluring sounds emanating from their TV, the place is all ours (unless you count the cows that have trashed some sections).