Hermit trailhead is at Hermits Rest. For most of the year (March 1 -
November 30), you are required to take the free shuttle to Hermits Rest unless
you have an overnight hiking permit. In that case, the Backcountry Office
will give you the gate code and allow you to drive your car to the trailhead.
is in very good condition from the trailhead to the Waldron Trail junction.
Some of this upper section still has intact the stone paving installed by the
Santa Fe Railroad in the early 1900s. The quarter mile section from the
Waldron Trail junction to the Hermit Trail junction is basically level.
After that the trail begins its steeper descent and shows its eighty year lack
of maintenance. There is untreated water at Santa Maria Spring and a small
rest house with benches in it. Some minor scrambling is required to cross
rock slides at several drainages after this. The views of the Hermit Gorge
and inner Canyon are impressive all the way past Lookout Point and Breezy Point.
The trail then begins some very steep switchbacks called the Cathedral Stairs.
A few of the stair runs still have the poured concrete and stone paving of the
upper Hermit sections. Below the Cathedral Stairs, the trail makes a
steep, extended descent beside Cope Butte and then goes through several steep
switchbacks to reach the Tonto Trail.
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