Monday, October 27, 2014

SOUTH THUMB BUTTE TRAILS


SOUTH THUMB BUTTE TRAILS
Prescott
Thumb Butte Bypass Trail follows Miller Creek

Soaring to 6514', the sky dominating profile of Thumb Butte is Prescott’s most iconic natural landmark. Its convenient location in the middle of a park just west of downtown's historic Whiskey Row attracts scores of visitors, many of whom use the main Trail #33 as their first exposure to Prescott area hiking. Although it's a good choice for novice hikers or those unfamiliar with the area's terrain, a slew of connecting routes add length and difficulty to satisfy the predilections of most trekkers.
Thumb Butte Trail #33
The heaviest traveled of the seven routes in the park's south end, Trail #33 is engineered with climb-calming switchbacks, safety rails and rest stops that make short work of the 2.1-mile loop around the granite formation.  When hiking clockwise from the trailhead, the path is paved up to the loop's highpoint on a saddle below vertical rock slabs forming the butte's summit. Here, a spur trail that's closed from February 1st to July 15th each year to protect peregrine falcon nesting sites, leads to optional rock scrambling routes.  The trail turns to dirt for the return leg, passing a makeshift memorial to the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who perished in the 2013 Yarnell Hill wildfire.    Maps available at the trailhead show the lay of the land and numerous ways to explore deeper into Prescott National Forest including easy connectivity with the Prescott Circle Trail that makes a 50-mile circuit around the city.

Thumb Butte

LENGTH: 8.3 miles total for 7 trails
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION:  5705’ – 6314’ (Trail #33)
HOURS: seasonal 7 a.m. to 5, 7 or 8 p.m.
FEE: $5 day use fee (exact change required)
Granite Mountain Hotshot memorial

GETTING THERE:
From the courthouse in downtown Prescott (Gurley St. and Montezuma), travel 3.4 miles west on Gurley Street (turns into Thumb Butte Road) to the Thumb Butte Recreation Area.
INFO: Prescott National Forest

Sunday, October 19, 2014

WEST WING MOUNTAIN TRAILS


WEST WING MOUNTAIN TRAILS
City of Peoria


Every town and city in the Valley has its popular workout trail where the hordes converge for their daily dose of sweat and grind. Examples are Camelback Mountain in Phoenix and, Scottsdale's Pinnacle Peak. Not to be left out of the fitness frenzy, Peoria's trek of choice is West Wing Mountain. Unlike its neighbors, which offer one option---moderately difficult, straight up-and-down trudges-- this system of loop trails offers you a choice of difficult and extreme options. Although the trails are well maintained and not too steep, the difficult rating is likely because of the slick rock and loose scree underfoot.
The mountain is actually an undulating ridgeline with trails wrapping up and around scenic viewpoints and a high summit.  Rising above a Northwest Valley suburban domain of kids and cul-de-sacs, the trails dodge among crusty cliffs and barrel cactus showcasing ever-improving views as the routes gain elevation. At the top of the extreme loop, views of a sea of terra cotta roofs nuzzling up to the mountain’s base and West Valley mountains form a 360-degree panorama beyond a familiar landscape of freeways and shopping malls.

LENGTH:  3.4 or 3.5 miles (including 0.2-mile access trail from the park)
RATING: difficult
ELEVATION: 1400'- 1903’

GETTING THERE:
From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to Loop 303 exit 221 .  Turn left (west) and continue 7 miles to  Lake Pleasant Parkway exit 131, turn left (south) and go 2.3 miles to West Wing Parkway, turn left and go 1 mile to West Wing Park on the right.  Trail begins at the far west side of the parking lot. Although there are numerous access points from residential streets, The City of Peoria wants hikers to park at the West Wing Park lot.

INFO: City of Peoria, 623-773-7120
West Wing Neighborhood Park
27100 N. West Wing Parkway, Peoria

Sunday, October 12, 2014

BARBERSHOP and U-BAR TRAILS


BARBERSHOP-U-BAR TRAILS to DANE CANYON
Coconino National Forest
Barbershop Trail, Oct. 11, 2014

One of the best long hikes on the Mogollon Rim is the Cabin Loop System.  Several trailheads provide myriad options for making multi-day backpack treks or day hikes using the five trails that link a system of abandoned fire lookout cabins. In autumn, the Barbershop Trail portion of the route is famous for its awesome display of colorful foliage.
The hike begins with a steep descent into Yeager Canyon, a creek crossing and an immediate climb back up to a ridge. The trail is sketchy in places but is marked by tree blazes. Along this section, moist pockets of Bigtooth maples form canopies of red, orange and gold over a moss-fleeced pine-fir woodland.  At the 0.7-mile point, turn right to pick up the U-Bar Trail.  Deeply wooded, this trail features Gamble oaks and aspen groves that shine in electric yellow in mid-October.  The ruins of Dane Cabin and its companion spring appear at mile 2.3 before the trail winds north along the edge of Dane Canyon. Soon the path dips into the gorge via a series of switchbacks landing hikers in a stream-bisected meadow at the 4.3-mile point---a good turnaround point for a leaf-peeping day hike.
U-Bar Trail, Oct. 11, 2014


Maples on Barbershop Trail, Oct. 11, 2014

LENGTH:  8.7 miles (as described here)
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 7120’ – 7598
BEST TIME FOR FALL COLOR: mid-October
GETTING THERE:
From Payson, go 29 miles east on AZ260 to Rim Road (Forest Road 300 at the Woods Canyon Lake sign).  Turn left and go 22.8 miles on FR300 to FR137, turn right and continue 3.4 miles to the Barbershop Trail sign.  Hike begins on the west side of the road at a small wooden sign. Dirt roads are sedan friendly.

INFO:

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

WEST FORK OF OAK CREEK: POST FIRE


WEST FORK OF OAK CREEK: POST 2014 SLIDE FIRE
Sedona
Narrow Canyon Pool, Oct. 7, 2014

I cried when I first learned that the 2014 Slide Fire had crept into the West Fork of Oak Creek, impacting one of Sedona’s premier hiking destinations. Prior to the blaze, the soaring crimson and buff canyon walls that cradle the creek were embellished with pines, maples, elders, willows and hop trees. In spring, apple blossoms burst from an abandoned orchard and in autumn, the canyon glowed in shades of russet, gold and orange. After a months-long closure, the forest service re-opened the canyon on October 1, 2014.  I re-visited a few days later and found that the damage is minimal. The vast majority of the trail is intact and I only noticed six areas of moderate fire damage---but nothing bad enough to detract from the canyon’s beauty.  Despite our wet summer, water levels in the creek are very low and the sandbars are stained black with ash. But, low water means that hiking into the slot canyon beyond the maintained trail is now easy to do without having to wade. On October 7th, the leaves were just beginning to show some color, which means the week of the 15th should be prime time for fall foliage hiking.


13th creek crossing: Oct. 7, 2014

Beginnings of Fall color: Oct 7, 2014

LENGTH: 3.3 miles one-way
RATING: easy with 13 creek crossings
ELEVATION: 5324' – 5594’
FEE: $10 daily fee per vehicle or $2 per person walk in
FACILITIES: restrooms, picnic tables, no water
Fire damage at creek crossing #11

GETTING THERE:
From the AZ179/89A traffic circle in Sedona, veer right and continue 10.5 miles north on 89A to the Call O the Canyon trailhead on the left.
INFO: Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 928-203-2900

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

ASPENS ON THE ARIZONA TRAIL


ASPENS ON THE ARIZONA TRAIL
Arizona Trail Passage 34, Flagstaff
Aspen color on October 5, 2014

Trekking the Arizona National Scenic Trail Passage 34 can best be described as hiking through an aspen alley. Although this section of the 817-mile, state-traversing route is well over 30 miles in length, some of the best fall foliage viewing happens in the 4-mile strip of forest between Forest Road 418 and Bismarck Lake . Right from the start, hikers are immersed in colonies of slender, white-barked trees with feather-duster-like canopies that glow in shades of gold from early to mid-October. After about a mile, deep woodlands of pines and firs overcome the aspens.  Here, sporadic, survivor aspens stand out like torch flames.  At the 1.8 mile point, a small grove adds spots of color and at 2.7 miles, the aspens return with a vengeance, dominating the trail all the way to the Bismarck Lake junction in the shadow of Flagstaff’s San Francisco Peaks.



LENGTH: 4.2 miles one way
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 8287' - 8897'
GETTING THERE:
From Flagstaff go 19 miles north on US180 to Hart Prairie Road (FR151) at milepost 235.
Turn right and go 1.6 miles to FR418, turn left and continue 1.1 mile to the trailhead.

INFO:

Friday, October 3, 2014

FALL FOLIAGE IN GLOBE

ICEHOUSE CANYON TRAIL Pinal Mountains, Globe

Maples, alders, walnut and oak---and aspens near the top

Fall color in Arizona often conjures images of aspens in Flagstaff or maples on the Mogollon Rim, but there's another place---only 95 miles from the Valley--- that glows just as well. The Pinal Mountains in the Tonto National Forest near Globe offer autumn foliage and challenging treks. Of the four major trails that ascend the mountains (Icehouse, Six Shooter, Kellner and Telephone), Icehouse presents the most colorful option for leaf peeping.
It’s a bit tricky to stay on track, but with some attention to detail, hiking to the cool pockets of aspens and maples  is an exhausting yet memorable adventure. From the trailhead, hike a short distance uphill along Forest Road 112 to the Telephone Trail on the right. Follow the Telephone Trail for two-tenths of a mile to the Icehouse Canyon Trail junction, hang a right and go downhill and through a dry wash. Next, pass through a cattle guard and continue up to the top of a rise. From there, go left and follow the road for a half-mile to a junction where there are spring-fed water troughs and salt licks for the domestic cattle (and black bears) that inhabit the area. Veer left and continue on the Icehouse Canyon Trail following the signs to FR 651 (7,560 feet), the turn around point for this hike. To visit Signal Peak (7,812 feet) and Pinal Peak (7,848 feet), continue up the road toward the radio towers and follow the signs.  
Yup---it's steep

View from top of the trail
IMPORTANT NOTE: Pinal trails are notoriously overgrown and rife with obstacles. In addition, directional signage is sparse--so hikers must have excellent map and route-finding skills in order to safely navigate these trails. A good map resource is the National Geographic Maps, Salt River Canyon, Tonto National Forest #853. INFORMATION: www.natgeomaps.com/ti_853 LENGTH: 10 miles round trip ELEVATION: 4,520' – 7,560' RATING: difficult. DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 95 miles one-way GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, take US 60 east to Globe. Once in Globe, follow the “Besh-Ba-Gowah Ruins, Globe Ranger Station” signs through downtown to Icehouse Canyon Road (FR 112). Turn right onto FR 112 and continue for 4.2 miles to the Icehouse CCC campsite which is indicated by a brown sign that says: “197, 192”. INFORMATION: (928) 402-6200, www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto/recreation/rogs/hikingtrail/grd/IcehouseTrail198.pdf

Monday, September 29, 2014

West Fork to Reopen Wednesday Oct. 1, 2014

For Immediate Release (from Coconino National Forest)
September 29, 2014
           
Most of Oak Creek Canyon to reopen Wednesday 
Visitors urged to continue to use caution
October 14, 2011

Sedona, Ariz.
– This summer, Coconino National Forest managers, along with the City of Sedona, Sedona Fire District, Coconino and Yavapai Counties and State partners, have worked diligently to assess and mitigate hazards caused by the Slide Fire in Oak Creek Canyon. On Wednesday, October 1, most of the National Forest in Oak Creek Canyon will reopen.

The only areas which will continue to be closed in Oak Creek Canyon include Cave Springs Campground (closed for the season), A.B. Young Trail and also a section of land between Slide Rock State Park and Halfway Picnic area.

While the monsoon season has passed, there continues to be potential for occasional storms and the threat of severe flash flooding is still present within the canyon and surrounding areas. In addition, falling trees and rocks are possible even without rain. As such, visitors are asked to remain vigilant when recreating within the canyon.

“Returning visitors will likely be relieved to see that their favorite spots aren’t completely blackened and desolate, but it’s important to remember that these areas aren’t completely risk-free,” says Nicole Branton, Red Rock District ranger. “We’ve mitigated many of the imminent hazards caused by the fire, but the canyon is no longer in the condition it was before.”

Each visitor is responsible for his/her own safety. The public is urged to be mindful of their surroundings, keep an eye on the weather, err on the side of caution and make smart decisions while visiting the forest.

Oak Creek Canyon visitors and residents are reminded to sign up to receive Coconino County CodeRED emergency alert notifications to their home, cellphone or via email. Visit www.coconino.az.gov/emergency <http://www.coconino.az.gov/emergency>  to register. For additional information on the Slide flood preparations, visit www.coconino.az.gov/slidefloodinformation <http://www.coconino.az.gov/slidefloodinformation> .

Forest managers will continue to work closely with partners to monitor conditions and may need to temporarily close portions of the area for public safety. For updates, visit www.coconinonationalforest.us <http://www.coconinonationalforest.us>  or contact the Red Rock Ranger District at 928-203-7500.
  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

BEARFOOT TRAIL


BEARFOOT TRAIL
Pine-Strawberry
Junipers and Ponderosa pines shade the trail

Officially introduced in May 2014 during Pine-Strawberry Trail Days festivities, the area’s newest hiking path connects with Tonto National Forest routes Pine Canyon Trail #26 and Rock Wall Trail #608. The hike takes off from a small pull out along Highway 87 and follows a ridgeline above the town of Pine.  There are no signs along the route and finding where the path begins is a little tricky.  From the trailhead, pass the gate, veer right and hike 0.2 mile on the power line road to a 4-way junction where the road gets very steep. Pick up the trail heading right and from here on, the route is obvious.  While hiking, note the beautifully constructed native stone retaining walls and drainage ditches. The din of the highway accompanies outstanding views of the Mazatzal Mountains for the first mile, but the noise recedes as the trail curves to the northwest,  dipping and climbing among cypress pockets, juniper-studded gullies and cool pine-shaded woodlands backed by Mogollon Rim vistas. You’ll pass by several private residential communities and Camp Lo Mia before connecting with Trail #26 in Pine Canyon.

An elegant Emory oak along the way

LENGTH: 5.6 miles one-way
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 5690’ – 6050’

Majestic views of the Mogollon Rim

GETTING THERE:
From Payson go 20 miles north on AZ87 to the trailhead at milepost 270 on the right.  There’s parking for about 4 cars, but additional space is at the Trail #15 lot a few yards up the road on the left.

Mazatzal Wilderness on the horizon

INFO:

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Friday, September 19, 2014

FALL COLOR HIKING 2014

 GET READY FOR ARIZONA FALL FOLIAGE HIKING 2014

Lamar Haines Wildlife Area
The Forest Service will activate  its annual FALL FOLIAGE HOTLINE on Friday September 26, 2014. Until then, hikers want to know where you'll be going to see the leaves in next few weeks.
Share your favorite autumn hiking tips and photos in my Facebook Arizona Hiking group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1428020817423751/

FALL FOLIAGE HOTLINE:
http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r3/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5323844

Thursday, September 18, 2014

THIS HIKE IS FOR THE DOGS


First Wag & Walk Adoption Hike of the Season is Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014

The season two premier of Wag & Walk dog adoption hikes is finally set!  Adoptable dogs from the Maricopa County Animal Care & Control Mesa shelter will be strutting their stuff on Usery Mountain Park's Merkel Trail on the first Saturday of every month October through April.  Hiker pups are selected for their dazzling personalities, good behavior and eagerness to find a new home.


A volunteer handler who can share information about the animal’s breed, exercise needs and individual character will escort each dog.  Hiker dogs are already spayed or neutered, up-to-date with their shots and license and can go home with you on the spot. Some of these lovable canines are "bench warmers"---pets who have been waiting to be adopted for weeks or months. Are you the one they've been waiting for?   Even if you don't find the love of your life on the hike, shelter volunteers will be on hand to direct you to county adoption facilities and answer your questions about selecting a pet to match your lifestyle.  Your leashed dogs are welcome to join the hike.


LENGTH: 1 mile
RATING: easy, barrier-free
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 9 a.m.
FEE: $6 park entry fee per vehicle
GETTING THERE:
Usery Mountain Regional Park
3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa
Take US60 east to the Ellsworth Road exit and go north to the park.
INFO: Usery Mountain Regional Park, 480-984-0032

Sunday, September 14, 2014

HIGHLANDS CENTER FOR NATURAL HISTORY


HIGHLANDS CENTER FOR NATURAL HISTORY
Prescott

Lynx Creek

Located adjacent to the Lynx Lake recreation site a few miles south of downtown Prescott, the trails of the Highland Center for Natural History blend hiking with education. Two easy trail loops are laid out to highlight the unique geology, plant life, conservation concerns and watershed resources of the Central Arizona Highlands. Accompanying field guides available at the trailhead correspond with numbered points of interest along the collective 3-miles of nature trails. These short paths also connect with longer forest trails for those who want more of a challenge. In addition to being a model of sustainable building practices and fire-wise landscaping, the center offers a plethora of guided field hikes, youth learning opportunities and naturalist certification programs. But the keynote event is the annual "Take A Hike" Hiking Spree. Participants in the popular self-paced event hike a list of designated trails within the Prescott National Forest and City of Prescott systems between September and December. Hikers who complete the program may purchase a specially designed commemorative medallion and also are entered into a prize drawing.  The 2014 Spree kicked off on Sept 6th and this year's trail selection includes perennial classics like Juniper Mesa as well as newly opened Granite Gardens trails. Click the link below to get started.

Lynx Creek

LENGTH: 3 miles
RATING: easy, partially barrier free
ELEVATION: 5300’ – 5590’
FEE: none, but donations are appreciated
HOURS: variable, but generally 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Elderberry Spring
GETTING THERE:
1375 S. Walker Road, Prescott. 
From Phoenix, go north on I17 to Cordes Junction, connect with  SR69 and go 30 miles west to Walker Road at milepost 293. Turn left and continue 1.8 miles to the center on the left.

INFO:

Take A Hike Hiking Spree

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

CHEVELON CANYON


CHEVELON CANYON from CHEVELON CROSSING
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
Crossing of Chevelon Creek

One of my hiking  buddies describes the trip through Chevelon Canyon on the Mogollon Rim as a "cross the creek and cross your fingers" venture. This spot-on assessment is a playful nod to the dozens of creek crossings, overgrown willows, log jams, and befuddling boulder-clogged bends that make route-finding a challenge. Therefore, navigating the steep walled, twisted watercourse from Chevelon Crossing to the dam at Chevelon Canyon Lake is a trip only experienced hikers should attempt.  Sporadic rock cairns belie clues where the primitive trail cuts through thick  vegetation or was taken out by floods. As a general rule, if you find yourself getting very high on the canyon walls or disoriented, backtrack, cross the creek and hunt for signs of a passage.For attentive hikers, the trail-muddling obstacles are but an inconvenience in an otherwise beautiful gorge of vertical limestone cliffs, flowing stream channels and refreshing pools.  Within the moist riparian corridor at the bottom of the canyon, Ponderosa pines, alders and Gambel oaks (think: fall foliage hike) provide plenty of cool shade, but just a few yards up from the stream, drier pinon-juniper grasslands speckled with cacti can be quite warm in summer.  Trekkers planning a through hike should come prepared with map, gps and plenty of supplies as the 8.5-mile, trip is slow going. For those out for a day hike, the way is relatively simple before the head scratching begins at around 2-miles in.   Finding the start point also is tricky. Here's how--at the Long Draw North trailhead, where the dirt road splits just past the restrooms, walk down the left fork for about 20 yards to a campsite with a picnic table. Where the road makes a sharp right turn going uphill, look for an unmarked path on the left (N 34 35.425 W 110 47.270) heading toward the creek.



LENGTH: 8.5 miles one-way
RATING: experienced hikers only
ELEVATION: 6,300' -6100'
FACILITIES: restrooms, campsites, picnic tables

Willow whacking

GETTING THERE:
From Payson, go 29 miles east on AZ260 to Rim Road (Forest Road 300 at the Woods Canyon Lake sign).  Turn left and follow FR300 8.3 miles, turn right on Forest Road 169 and go 20.3 miles to Forest Road 504.  Turn right and drive 1.4 miles to the turn off on the right for Chevelon Crossing Campground. Forest Roads are sedan-friendly dirt, but there are steep drop offs and hairpin turns on FR504.
INFO:

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Monday, August 25, 2014

SCHOLZ LAKE


SCHOLZ LAKE
Kaibab National Forest

The wild north end

Tucked into a shallow gorge at the western edge of Garland Prairie, Scholz Lake may be the best-kept hiking secret in Kaibab National Forest.  This is probably because most hikers instead make a beeline for nearby superstar destinations like Sycamore Rim Trail, Overland Road Historic Trail or the strenuous routes on Bill Williams Mountain.  The high-altitude lake is open year-round, however, the north end is closed to all access annually from February 1st through August 1st to allow waterfowl and raptors to nest in peace.  The hike begins with a quarter-mile walk on a dirt trail that emerges on the south shore dam. From here, primitive angler paths circle the lake.  In drier months, the water settles into a patchwork of glassy ponds, rivulets and swales of frog-populated Lady's Finger smartweed. The T-shaped lake is fringed with Ponderosa pines and dozens of creaking snags that provide cover and perches for ospreys, ravens, geese, and eagles.  Keep an eye out for Hummingbird moths sipping nectar from thistles and herds of elk charging through Frenchy Canyon at the northwest end of the wetlands.  Although the hike is short and effortless, the scenic drive to the trailhead, proximity to longer routes and prodigious wildlife viewing opportunities make a visit to Scholz Lake worth a detour.

South shore dam

LENGTH: 3 miles
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 6730' - 6750'

Angler path on the west bank

GETTING THERE:
From Flagstaff, go west on Interstate 40 to the Parks exit 178.  Go 11.4 miles south on Garland Prairie Road (Forest Road 141, paved and sedan-friendly gravel) to Forest Road 62 and the signed turn off for Scholz Lake, turn right and drive 1 mile to the trailhead.  Forest Road 62 is good dirt for 0.5-mile, after that it gets rougher but is still passable by carefully driven sedan. There's a parking circle just before the road degrades for those who prefer to avoid the potholes and walk an extra half-mile. There's a restroom at the trailhead. Day use only.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

OSPREY CONNECTOR to ICE CAVE


OSPREY CONNECTOR to ICE CAVE
Pinetop-Lakeside

Crossing of Porter Creek

Of all the wonderful routes in the White Mountain Trail System, Ice Cave Trail #608 is a hiker favorite.
Known for its easy tread and cool, pine-juniper forests, the trail's big attraction is the eponymous lava tube located mid-way along the path.  Because of its popularity, the trailhead fills up quickly, which is why the Osprey Connector #636C is gaining recognition as an alternative access route. A relatively new addition to the 25 trails within the system, this one was built to link the Timber Mesa and Blue Ridge Mountain clusters of trails.  But to view this woodland traipse as just a means to an end is to miss the point---it holds its own as a standalone hike. Passing through the gorge and surrounding wetlands of Porter Creek, the trail makes a steppingstone-assisted water crossing before ascending along the ridgeline above Scott Reservoir. 
However, as visiting the White Mountain ice cave is a hiking itch that must be scratched, here's how to use this route to get to the prize. Begin by hiking 0.5-mile on the Timber Mesa Trail #636, turn right onto the Osprey Connector and follow it 2.5 miles to the Ice Cave Trail junction.  From here, it's 0.5-mile to the cave.  Despite the hype, (and to the chagrin of many hikers) the cave itself is little more than a glorified sinkhole--with no ice. The forest service has fenced off the cave for preservation (the gate has been open on all my visits) and it's smart to avoid climbing into the potentially dangerous abyss.

Scott Reservoir viewed from Osprey Connector

LENGTH: 7 miles roundtrip to the cave and back
RATING: easy
ELEVATION:  6350' - 6890'

Trail signs correspond with online maps

GETTING THERE:
In Pinetop-Lakeside, go south on AZ260 (White Mountain Blvd.) to the Porter Mountain Road traffic light at milepost 350.  Turn left and continue 2.2 miles to the Timber Mesa trailhead or 2.4 miles to additional parking at a gate along the road. Parking at the gate cuts 2 miles off the roundtrip distance.

INFO: Pinetop-Lakeside TRACKS
http://www.tracks-pinetop-lakeside.org/

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

PUMPHOUSE WASH COUNTY NATURAL AREA


PUMPHOUSE WASH COUNTY NATURAL AREA
Flagstaff

Pumphouse Wash

Seven miles south of Flagstaff along Interstate 17, Pumphouse Meadow near Kachina Village harbors family-friendly hiking trails. You've probably whizzed right by it on your way back from a mountain retreat or even stopped at the off ramp gas station. So, next time, why not stay awhile and take a walk on the easy paths that explore this 128-acre wetland habitat at the headwaters of Oak Creek Canyon, a major tributary of the Verde River.   Spring-fed Pumphouse Wash can be toured via the 0.75-mile, Pinon Trail.  Enhanced with stone viewing blinds and interpretive signs describing the ecosystem and its resident flora and fauna, the dirt path is hidden under the cover of pines on a bluff above the wash, to optimize wildlife viewing opportunities.  Patient hikers can expect to see fox, waterfowl, raptors, elk, lizards and countless other birds and mammals. Additionally, the site has a barrier-free walkway leading to an artfully crafted platform with a viewing scope.  Restrooms, water, ball fields and shaded picnic ramadas at adjacent Raymond County Park add comfort to the journey whether enjoyed as a short detour or daylong outing.
 
Viewing blind
LENGTH: 0.75-mile one-way
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 6720'-6740'

Viewing platform

GETTING THERE:
From Flagstaff, travel 7 miles south on I17 to the Kachina Village exit 333.  Turn right onto Kachina Blvd., continue less than a mile to Kachina Trail, turn right and go a short distance to the parking lot at Raymond County Park on the right. Hike down to the viewing platform and pick up the footpath heading northwest.
FACILITIES:
Restrooms, water, picnic tables
INFO: Coconino County Parks & Recreation
Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience

Monday, August 11, 2014

TUNNEL SPRINGS TRAIL


TUNNEL SPRINGS TRAIL
BNSF trains pass by about every 15 minutes

The multi-faceted hiking network of the Flagstaff Urban Trails System (FUTS) is the perfect complement to the hundreds of miles of wilderness and national forest trails surrounding the city.
FUTS (say, "foots") uses sidewalks, gravel roads and dirt single tracks for a seamless web of hiking/biking routes that link in-town strolls and meanders through suburban wetlands to more rigorous peripheral trails. Although many of the system's offerings appeal to those looking for a quick way to burn some energy without having to drive miles to a trailhead, several routes located at the
urban-woodland interface mimic the feel of more remote locations.  Tunnel Springs Trail is sort of a city-rural-wildland hybrid hike melding the convenience of easy access just off busy Route 66 with a moderate climb through Ponderosa pine forests.  Passing under and above BNSF railroad tracks, the trail's companion cacophony of metal-on-metal screeching and mournful freight car rumbling is the hike's signature characteristic. The clamor of wailing rails fades as the trail ascends Observatory Mesa along a smooth, gravel road.
Trail signs are few and unmarked crossroads can cause confusion. Here's the plan. From the trailhead, follow the walkway between the private homes down to a road paralleling the railroad tracks.  Turn left here, pass through the tunnel and veer left again. Pass a gate and go right to stay on the widest road heading uphill. At the green tanks (Lowell Tanks), go left and continue to another gate at the (unsigned) Mars Hill Trail junction. Return the way you came or continue 1.6 miles to Thorpe Park.

View from Observatory Mesa

LENGTH: 1.9 miles one-way
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 7014' - 7404'


GETTING THERE:
From Flagstaff, travel west on Route 66 to Railroad Springs Blvd. (just before mile post 194,Chevron station on corner), turn right and go 0.4-mile to a "T" intersection with Adirondack Ave. The trail begins on a path between two residences directly ahead. Park along the street.



INFO:
City of Flagstaff
F.U.T.S. Map:
MORE PHOTOS: