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Arizona Trail Resupply: How to Buy As You Go

Arizona Trail Resupply: How to Buy As You Go

If you’re excited to see epic views, climb mountains, and visit two National Parks, you’ll love to thru-hike the Arizona Trail.  However, now that you know you want to hike it, insert…boring logistics like your Arizona Trail resupply plan.

The 800-mile Arizona Trail boasts lots of gateway communities that not only know about hikers, but also have stocked our backpacking foods. 

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.  I’ve thru-hiked the AZT once and my partner has twice.  This post will tell you how to do your Arizona Trail resupply as you go with no mail drops.

A few towns have less options than others, but even as vegans, we managed to buy as we went.

Now, let’s dive into your Arizona Trail logistics and go through the trail town by town!

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Arizona Trail Resupply & Logistics

Two backpackers starting an Arizona Trail thru-hike at the Mexican border with a monument.
Southern Monument, Arizona Trail

You’re lucky!  You picked an amazing trail with plenty of towns on trail or very close to it.  This makes your Arizona Trail resupply easier than many other long-distance trails. 

If you’re not fully sold on the Arizona Trail yet, you can read more in my Arizona Trail Complete Guide.  You can read about the length, difficulty, best times to hike, the National Park Permits you need and more here.

That being said, the Arizona Trail towns listed below go in a northbound (nobo) order.  Since the majority of thru-hikers go nobo in the spring, you’re more likely doing the same.

Patagonia, Arizona

Mile: 52.4

Miles to/from trail: 4.4 mile hitch OR walk in/walk out via connector trails (easier)

Grocery: Patagonia Market & Red Mountain Foods

Places to Stay: Stage Stop Inn & TerraSol Camping

Fuel: Hiker Box, if any.

Patagonia is an approachable town that’s easy to walk around.  It’s a perfect first stop for your Arizona Trail resupply.

After Miller Peak kicks your butt, it’s nice to ease into your thru-hike with a half-day or full zero at just over 50 miles. 

I recommend scouting out both grocery stores before you buy.

You’ll want to get some of your resupply from one store and some from another.  They’re both similar in pricing, but have a slightly different selection.

Also, the Stage Stop Inn was a great spot and some rooms have basic kitchens.

Vail, Arizona

Mile: 123.7

Miles to/from trail: 5.8-mile hitch

Grocery: Safeway

Places to Stay: Airbnb or Uber/Lift to Motels in southeast Tucson

Fuel: Most likely Tucson

Vail, Arizona isn’t a totally ideal town, but it gets the job done. 

First, Safeway has got you covered.  Just about anyone can find enough food in a Safeway.

Second, if you time your arrival at the Colossal Cave parking lot with their hours (9 am – 3 pm M-F, 9 am – 4 pm Sa-Su) you can yogi a ride from a visitor.

Lastly, this is a great spot to get your friend/acquaintance/obscure family member in Tucson to pick you up. Then, they can drive you to whatever you need in Tucson.

Oracle, Arizona

Chalet Village Motel sign in Oracle, Arizona.
Oracle, Arizona

Mile: 204.3 (American Flag Trailhead)

Miles to/from trail: 6.3-mile hitch to Dollar General.  Although, now there are walk in/walk out options.

Grocery: Dollar General & Circle K

Places to Stay: Chalet Village Motel

Fuel: Hiker Box, Possibly

While Dollar General isn’t the greatest, there’s enough there usually to make it work.  If you combine it with the Circle K, it’s usually enough.

At the very least, it’s enough to get you to Kearney.

The Chalet Village Motel knows and understands hikers.  Also, Marney will usually pick you up and drop you off at the trailhead if you stay with her.

Lastly, it’s the most reasonably priced place to stay after Patagonia (unless you have a hook-up in Tucson).

Kearney, Arizona

Mile: 266.4 (Florence-Kelvin Trailhead) OR 268.4 (Gila River Trailhead)

Miles to/from trail: 9.2-mile hitch from Florence-Kelvin TH or 7.8-mile hitch from Gila River TH.

Grocery: Norm’s Hometown Grocery (IGA)

Places to Stay: General Kearney Inn

Fuel: Possibly Ace Hardware

Kearney is an overall friendly town.  Just about everything is walkable, it has a legit grocery store (Norm’s), a hotel, a restaurant, and a post office.

Plus, a local who gave me a ride into town told me they have a better beer selection in Kearney than any of the surrounding towns. 🤷‍♀️

For a buy as you go Arizona Trail resupply strategy, Kearney is fantastic! 

In the end, the hitch is worth it.

Superior, Arizona

Mile: 305.7

Miles to/from trail: 6.5-mile hitch from Picketpost Trailhead

Grocery: Save Money Market, Family Dollar, & Circle K

Places to Stay: Copper Mountain Motel & Trail Angel MJ

Fuel: Hiker Box, Possibly

Superior is a helpful town because of the mileage gap between Picketpost Trailhead and Highway 87 (to Payson).  Other than that, it’s just ok.

Between the two small grocery stores and the gas station, most people will find enough food to resupply.  However, you’ll most likely need to go to 2 if not 3 of them.

While Kearney and Superior are both mining towns, Superior has weird vibes sometimes. 

Lastly, if I had a choice over Kearney or Superior, Kearney is nicer.

Payson, Arizona

Mile: 390.2 (Trail Junction 73-344 to get to the better hitch spot)

Miles to/from trail: 32-mile hitch

Grocery: Safeway

Places to Stay: Multiple Hotels

Fuel: Big 5 Sporting Goods or Walmart

Don’t let the long hitch fool you!  Payson is literally the next town north of the AZT junction with highway 87.  Almost everyone driving north will go to or through Payson.

As far as an Arizona Trail resupply town goes, Payson is great.  You get a regular grocery store, a post office, and a hotel.

Moreover, Payson, Arizona also has a running store called Rim Runners and a Big 5 Sporting Goods.  Finally, a chance to replace some gear!

Pine, Arizona

That Brewery sign and building artwork in Pine, Arizona
Pine, Arizona

Mile: 462.2

Miles to/from trail: From where the AZT crosses Highway 87 it’s 1.5 miles to Ponderosa Market, but THAT Brewery is on the way.

Grocery: Ponderosa Market

Places to Stay: Beeline Guest House, Sometimes That Brewery, or questionable 2 night minimum at Pine Creek Cabins — Full List Here

Fuel: Check hiker box or hitch to Payson, AZ.

Pine is a cute little town.  You can also walk in and walk out of it.  Or, you could walk to That Brewery, have a meal, and yogi a ride down to the store. 

Basically, it’s small, convenient, and walkable.  It doesn’t have everything you need, but it has enough.  And, if you’re in a pinch, you can hitch to Payson.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Mile: Red Line mile 590.6 OR Blue Line mile 4.5 (Leave from mile 570.4, walk 4.5 mile into town.)

Miles to/from trail: Red Line: 5.5 mile hitch/bus OR Blue Line: 4.5 mile walk in/walk out.

Grocery: Frys, Safeway, Bashas, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Target, Walmart

Places to Stay: Many motels and hotels, Airbnb

Fuel: REI, Babbitt’s Backcountry Outfitters, Peace Surplus, Aspen Sports

IMHO, Flagstaff is a full-service town and the best resupply on the trail. 

However, it does help if you have a friend with a car who conveniently has a place to let you crash.  Once you’re in downtown Flagstaff, you don’t need a car, but sometimes it would be helpful. 

Here, you’ll find a multitude of restaurants, gear stores, and hotels.  The choices may even overwhelm you.  However, after a lot of small towns without options, it will feel great! 

Grand Canyon National Park South Rim

Mile: 698.8

Miles to/from trail: 0 – Walk in/walk out

Grocery: Grand Canyon Village Market & Deli

Places to Stay: Hiker/Biker campsite at South Rim Campground, Yavapai Lodge, Bright Angel Lodge, & El Tovar Hotel

Fuel: Grand Canyon Outfitters

You’ll be surprised at your Arizona Trail resupply options at the South Rim.  Just because it’s a National Park, doesn’t mean you’ll spend a ton of money. 

In fact, if you stay at the hiker/biker spot at the campground, they even have showers and laundry available. 

It’s true that the grocery store is more expensive than the Walmart in Flagstaff, but not outrageously. 

Moreover, if you play your cards right, it’s a super fun stop, despite the tourists. 

This is the last good Arizona Trail resupply for the rest of the trail northbound.  To buy as you go, you can buy a little heavier here and add snacks at both the North Rim General Store and Jacob Lake Inn. 

IF YOU ARE EARLY SEASON: check ahead to see if the North Rim General Store and Jacob’s Lake are even open yetIf not, this will be a big carry.

Grand Canyon National Park North Rim

A backpack in front of a closed store with a lot of snow.
Don’t come too early, it could be closed!

Mile: 722.5

Miles to/from trail: 2 miles (walk/hitch)

Grocery: North Rim General Store (At North Rim), North Rim Country Store (Outside of National Park)

Places to Stay: Hiker/Biker site at North Rim Campground, Grand Canyon Lodge North

Fuel: Hiker Box Possibly

In contrast with the South Rim, the North Rim has a more chill vibe.  It lacks the sheer number of tourists and likewise supplies.  It has some, but not the volume of supplies that the South Rim has.

Either way, it’s helpful to at least resupply with snacks here.  You can camp at the hiker/biker campsite in the car campground.  This allows you to enjoy the view on the deck at the North Rim and not have to hike all the way out of the park.

IF YOU ARE EARLY SEASON: Check to make sure the North Rim General Store is open! It’s usually open between May 15 – October 15 but it’s subject to change.

Jacob’s Lake, Arizona

Mile: 771.8

Miles to/from trail: 2.4 miles (walk/hitch)

Grocery: Jacob Lake Inn has snacks and a restaurant

Places to Stay: Jacob Lake Inn, Jacob Lake Campground, Kaibab Camper Village (Showers & Laundry)

Fuel: Unlikely

Jacob’s lake is not a full resupply, but rather extra snacks and a meal.  Sometimes a day or two before the end of a hike, you could use a solid meal to get you through.  That’s here.

Unfortunately, the rooms are a little pricy for what you actually get. Mostly, these cabin style rooms are a rustic vibe for those looking to get away from technology. However, while rustic, they definitely work to get you out of bad weather in a pinch.

IF YOU ARE EARLY SEASON: Please check hours ahead of time.  They may or may not have a full menu.

Lastly, you can check hours and dates here.

Conclusion: The Easiest Arizona Trail Resupply is Buy As You Go

Arizona Trail sign on the Kaibab Plateau
AZT Sign in the Kaibab Forest

The Arizona Trail has many resupply options throughout the 800-mile trail.  It actually has more opportunities to pop into town than many others. 

For most people, a buy as you go strategy is easiest.  However, for me, it isn’t.  I’m vegan.  So, if I can buy as I go, you most likely can.

As you’re planning out your Arizona Trail resupply, I hope this post helps.  Just remember, look ahead a little bit and you’ll find what you need. 

Finally, resupplying as you go is more likely to get you more variety. Occasionally, you might curse that variety, but you usually won’t get bored.