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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Fruits of the Desert Guided Hikes

FRUITS OF THE DESERT GUIDED HIKES
Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, Cave Creek
Saguaro fruits ripen in early July
The Rim is on fire, Flagstaff is covered in smoke, there's a blaze on Mt.Graham and who knows what other wildfires will break out and cause closures to our high-country hiking trails over the next few weeks?  Of course, we must first be concerned with the safety of firefighters and the communities surrounding the blazes. No matter how badly we Valley dwellers want to escape the heat and hike in the cool pines, we should stay out of the way. So, what? Give up hiking until the monsoon comes? No way. Instead, stay in town and take part in a hike that celebrates the annual ripening of saguaro fruits.  Ranger Kevin Smith at Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area in Cave Creek has educational hikes planned for July 1, 7 and 8 that focus on the identification of wild foods hiding in plain sight along local trails.
Harvesting saguaro fruits
The treks start early and end before the heat of day kicks in. Ranger Smith leads participants into the hills above Cave Creek and demonstrates traditional Native American techniques for harvesting cactus fruits and other desert delicacies.  And, yes, the tour includes free tastes. So, why not learn a little bit about native Sonoran Desert edibles while getting your exercise and waiting for the rains to return. There’s no need to sign up, just show up promptly at 7 a.m.
Plus, this program is part of the “County Parks are Getting Wet 
‘n’ Wild this Summer” promotion. At the end of the hikes, there will be a drawing for a family four-pack (4 free tickets) to the Wet ‘n’ Wild Water Park.
Engelmann prickly pear fruit
LENGTH: variable but usually 2-3 miles
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 2,200' - 2,800'
Tasty jojoba seeds

GETTING THERE:
From Loop 101 in north Phoenix, exit at Cave Creek Road and drive 15 miles north to Spur Cross Ranch Road, turn left and continue 4.2 miles to the parking lot on the left.
FEE: $3 per person permit requited. Bring exact change for the self-serve pay station.
INFO:

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

2017 Summer Wildfire Info

2017 SUMMER WILDFIRE INFO
Boundary Fire north of Flagstaff 6-10-17
Here we go again---it's wildfire season in Arizona. Already, dozens of blazes are active around the state---many of them near popular hiking trails and campgrounds. Cars are being turned around on access roads by fire personnel and hikers are finding out too late that they can't get to their planned trails due to closures. Please, stay out of closure areas. This is not only for your safety, but to ensure the firefighters can do their jobs without interference. BEFORE YOU HEAD OUT, CHECK THE InciWeb SITE FOR UP-TO-DATE INFO ON WILDFIRE STATUS AND CLOSURES:
https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/3/

Monday, June 12, 2017

WOODY MOUNTAIN

WOODY MOUNTAIN

Coconino National Forest
View of Rogers Lake
In the blockbuster theater of Flagstaff-area peaks, Woody Mountain plays more of a supporting role. Rising to just over 8,000 feet, the pine-covered cinder cone volcano stands above the wetlands of Rogers Lake not as soaring crests like nearby Bill Williams Mountain and the San Francisco Peaks, but as a low-profile mound.  In terms of mountain-conquering hiking experiences, this one makes for a satisfying starter trail that gets you to a beautiful high point without having to invest a lot of sweat or route-finding.
Roadside stock tank just outside of the natural area boundary
Located partially within the Rogers Lake County Natural Area south of Flagstaff, the service road that goes to the summit serves as the trail. The road can also be accessed by way of the Gold Digger Trail which you can pick up at a trailhead a half-mile beyond the start point. But, if your eyes are solely on the summit prize, beginning at the road gate is the most direct route.  At the parking area, the grassy swale that is Rogers Lake sits among pine bluffs, ranches and acres of summer wildflowers.  Local cows graze and laze in the lake’s mucky flats and if you’re lucky, you’ll also see the elk, deer, raptors and coyotes that come to drink from the lake’s residual pools. The first mile of the road hike is a moderate but continual climb through a sunny pine-oak forest. It’s an unremarkable hike unless you turn around occasionally to take in ever changing views of the lake and mountain peaks emerging over coniferous woodlands. At the 1.3 -mile point, the road passes a gate and leaves the natural area.  Here, a reedy stock tank fosters aquatic buttercups and clouds of butterflies. The double-humped mound to the left is your destination---look closely and you’ll see the top of the fire tower poking out from among tall pines. From the tank, the road begins its northward swing around the mountain and the mood moves from bucolic to deep-woods. The forest thickens as the road ascends barber-pole-style presenting a visual carousel of Flagstaff landmarks, the mountains of Williams and the pasture lands around the lake.  Near the 2-mile point, the historic Woody Mountain fire tower comes into view.  
A Red-tailed hawk glides above the road
The original tower was a simple tree stand that was used from 1910 to 1921. In 1922, the bare bones perch was upgraded to a wood tower which remained in service until 1936 when it was replaced with the posh-by-comparison steel and glass cabin that’s still in use today. The tower is on the National Register of Historic Sites. It rises 46 feet above ground, supporting a 7’ x 7’ cabin.
Historic Woody Mountain Lookout
Lookouts are sometimes stationed in the tower during fire season. When a lookout is on active duty, you should never enter a tower unless  invited and you must comply with all their instructions.  
Trailhead gate at Rogers Lake
Unless cordoned off or signed to stay out, it’s okay to climb the tower ladder at your own risk to get an aerial view of the lake that rolls out in concentric rings with puddles in the middle and marshes fading from a bright emerald core to a golden-brown fringe as summer sucks up snow-melt moisture.
Service road to the summit of Woody Mountain
When done taking in the historic sites and natural wonders, descend the way you came or, if you’re up for more miles, pick up one or both of the county natural area trails. The 4-mile, moderate-rated Gold Digger trail wanders the foothills below the peak while the easy, 2-mile Two-Spot trail stays low for optimum wildlife viewing.
Western Yarrow blooms June - September
LENGTH: 4.2 miles round trip
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION:  7060’ – 8045’
GETTING THERE:
From Flagstaff, go 1.9 miles west on Route 66 to Wood Mountain Road (Forest Road 231), turn left and continue 6.4 miles to the gate on the left located just past the Rogers Lake sign.
Park along the road.
The summit road may also be accessed from the Gold Digger Trail and Two-Spot trailheads located 0.6 and 1 mile farther down FR231.
INFO & MAP:

Monday, June 5, 2017

THOMPSON TRAIL #629

THOMPSON TRAIL #629
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
Parts of Thompson Trail survived the Wallow Fire
Trails with good bones have a way of reinventing themselves after a major wildfire. When the 2011 Wallow Fire---the largest in Arizona history-- roared through the woodlands around Mount Baldy and Big Lake, the nearby Thompson Trail #629 suffered heavy damage that will change is character as it recovers. Because of its good bones, the classic White Mountains route that follows the West Fork of the Black River still embodies everything great about high country trails—a creek with native fish, moss-laced trees, clump grass meadows and shadowy forests teeming with wildlife.
West Fork of the Black River flows along the trail
But the blaze altered its feel. The fire impacted the trail in patchwork style leaving some sections intact and others charred beyond recognition. The most noticeable change is the loss of shade-casting fir and spruce trees that had covered the canyon walls surrounding the stream. Where the fire burned hardest, the trail is now sunnier than its former self, allowing for the emergence of aspen trees that had been smothered by the conifers. Colonies of white-bark aspen sprouts are quickly claiming the space beneath blackened trunks and will eventually mature to replace the former darkly imposing canopy with a mottled sunshade.
Marsh marigold
In the six years since the fire, most of the ash and smoky residues have washed away revealing a scared but healing landscape.

The hike begins at the mouth of a gorge where the river meanders in oxbow curls. Within the first half-mile, two dams built as barriers to protect the native Apache trout population form still ponds and roaring waterfalls. Never straying far from the river’s edge, the trail passes through survivor forests and moist cienegas where rock piles and stepping stones mark the way through abundant shrubs, forbs and wetland wildflowers like marsh marigolds and prairie smoke. Interesting geology is another key feature of the hike---watch for an impressive volcanic dike on the west cliffs and tufts of red columbine growing from pock holes on basalt boulders. The trail ends where the 2.5-mile West Fork of the Black River Trail #628 begins with a knee-deep creek crossing. However, if you’d like to keep your feet dry, just turn back here and enjoy the trek in reverse.
Prairie Smoke
LENGTH: 6.5 miles roundtrip
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 8600’ – 8840’
GETTING THERE:
From Show Low, go 35 miles east on State Route 260 to State Route 273, just past milepost 377 and signed for Sunrise Ski Area.Turn right and continue 14 miles to Forest Road 116 (signed for Reservation Lake), turn right and go 4 miles to the trailhead on the right. Roads are paved except for Forest Road 116 which is sedan-friendly gravel.
INFO: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

BOYLE-DeBUSK OPEN SPACE PRESERVE

BOYLE-DeBUSK OPEN SPACE PRESERVE

Prescott
One of three primary trails in the preserve
If you weren’t looking for it, you’d probably zip right past this miniscule hiking destination tucked amid the suburbs 1.5 miles south of downtown Prescott. The Boyle-DeBusk Open Space Preserve is a project of the Central Arizona Land Trust, a non-profit corporation dedicated to protecting sensitive western landscapes. The property was donated to the City of Prescott in 2003 and is now part of the city’s public open space holdings.
Canyon grapes grow wild in the preserve's riparian zone 
Located in the space between expansive national forest land and a community with tin roof cabins and porches decorated with wood-whittled critters, the 9.7-acre natural area has been enhanced with hiking trails that explore its ecologically diverse terrain.  Three primary trails---DeBusk, Boyle and Talcott—wander through a woodsy mix of pine, oak and juniper trees that provide shade along much of the intertwined system. Running down the middle of the preserve, a gorge with an intermittent stream fosters a swath of water-loving plants like canyon grapes, wild roses and Scouring Rush Horsetail plants which look like bamboo.
Prescott's Granite Mountain as seen from the trails.
Experienced hikers will breeze through this matrix like a knife through butter while trekkers with kids in tow and those who prefer a leisurely pace to enjoy wildlife and plants could spend hours here.  Although this tiny trail matrix might not rate as a standalone destination, its proximity to the 54-mile long Prescott Circle Trail (PCT) makes it a nice add-on exploration.  There’s a major PCT trailhead just a mile and a half farther down White Spar Road.
Scouring Rush Horsetail

LENGTH: 1.2 miles total
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 5480’- 5611’
GETTING THERE:
Limberlost Trailhead:
From Courthouse Square in downtown Prescott, go 1.6 miles south on Montezuma Street (White Spar Road/ State Route 89) to Limberlost Lane. Turn right and continue 0.1 mile to the trailhead.
Boyle, DeBusk, and Talcott Trailheads:
From Courthouse Square in downtown Prescott, go 1.5 miles south on Montezuma Street (White Spar Road/ State Route 89) to Clubhouse Drive, turn right and continue 0.1 mile to the Talcott Trailhead on the left. To reach more access points, continue another 0.1 mile on Clubhouse and turn left onto East Hill Circle—there are three trailheads within 0.1 mile.
Parking is very limited along the streets. Do not block private drives.
INFO: Central Arizona Land Trust

Monday, May 15, 2017

WALNUT CANYON TRAIL

WALNUT CANYON TRAIL
Walnut Canyon Trail
Flagstaff’s Walnut Canyon, which splits the landscape southeast of town, is the work of an ancient river that carved its way through dolomite-rich limestone and sandstone.  The geological wonder is rife with history and recreational opportunities. Think prehistoric Sinagua dwellings at Walnut Canyon National Monument, that grueling staircase, hikes along the rim and a scenic passage of the Arizona Trail. As if these attractions weren’t enough, there’s another place tucked into a tributary at the canyon’s western edge that explores its wilder side. To get to this surprisingly green destination, begin on the popular Sandys Canyon Trail, hike two miles through the wide, pine-fringed valley to the equestrian bypass post and veer right heading toward a hub of signs and activity where the Arizona Trail branches into various options for hiking and riding through or around Flagstaff.
Petrified sand dunes on Walnut Canyon Trail
Just around a bend, first glimpses of the petrified sand dunes that characterize the trail stand out in a massive blob of cross-bedded stone. The appearance of the landmark below Fisher Point can be described as having the shape of Star Wars villain Jabba the Hutt and the texture of dinosaur hide. Because Jabba did his dirty deeds a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away we cannot be sure of when he lived, however, we know for sure that Walnut Canyon’s odd geological features are older than the dinosaurs of our own little planet.  The sand dunes formed between 299 and 251 million years ago during the Permian Age when earth’s land masses were coalescing into the super continent of Pangaea. This was a period of climate extremes and harsh conditions.
Cave along Sandys Canyon Trail
This domain of reptiles and other species that would later evolve into mammals ended with a mass extinction of terrestrial and sea species. What happened? Well, theories include climate change due to volcanic eruptions, methane poisoning and asteroid impacts.  Death Star, maybe?
Regardless, the fossil remains of that time form the backbone of a fascinating hike. From the sign post hub, hike over to the “Jabba” formation to explore the cave at its base. At the back of the cavern, look for a slot that lets in a sliver of sunlight.
Cave entry on Walnut Canyon Trail
After checking out the cave, continue east along and unmarked trail to a sign that marks the beginning of the Walnut Canyon Trail. Beyond the sign, the canyon tapers into a tunnel of oaks and willows with an understory of Red-osier dogwood and scratchy brambles. Canyon walls tower 400 feet on both sides as the thin trail plows through damp aspen woodlands, mossy pines and sun-washed meadows.
Jabba the Hutt?
Along the way, two spur paths lead to caves scoured from striated limestone walls. The first is just a shallow overhang while the second is a deep shaft with water seeping from above. Bring a flashlight for this one because it goes back about 25 dark, dank feet. 
The trail goes on to a point roughly 1.8 miles from the Jabba cave where an overgrown drainage and an impenetrable nursery of aspen saplings deny further passage.
Oaks on Walnut Canyon Trail
LENGTH: 8 miles roundtrip
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 6820’ – 6580’
GETTING THERE:
From Interstate 17 in Flagstaff, take the Lake Mary Road exit 339 and go 4.5 miles south to the Sandys Canyon Trailhead turnoff on the left.
INFO: Coconino National Forest

Monday, May 8, 2017

MILK RANCH POINT

MILK RANCH POINT

Pine-Strawberry 
Highline Trail
Back in the 1880s, Rial Allen ran cattle along the East Verde River and operated a dairy on Milk Ranch Point. The Mormon settler, who was also a founder of the town of Pine, produced cheese, butter and milk for the locals and crews working on the Atlantic & Pacific railroad.
The Allen family left the area in 1891 and today, there’s nary a trace of the dairy that helped sustain waves of hardy pioneers who came to establish communities in the Tonto Basin.
Milk Ranch Point promontory, which hovers above the hamlets of Pine-Strawberry, is part of the Mogollon Rim, a 200-mile uplifted shelf that marks the division of the Colorado Plateau and Arizona’s Basin and Range zone. The imposing geological feature is a scaffold of pine and fossiliferous sediments squeezed into fractured vertical cliffs that rise to over 7000 feet.
There are two popular ways to get to the wind-ravaged peninsula---the hard way and the harder way.  With a vehicle robust enough to survive nasty forest roads, you can drive right up. Or, you can choose the harder option and make the 8-mile roundtrip hike that climbs nearly 2,000 feet.
Deers Ears bloom May - August
The hike begins at the Pine Trailhead on the Highline Trail #31 which is also part of the Arizona Trail. This easy, 1.5-mile segment passes through washes, juniper woodlands and damp forests of maple and oak as it makes a gradual ascent on a well-maintained trail. At the Donahue Trail #27 junction, the hike changes into a more aggressive climb on steep, yucca-fringed switchbacks. Over the remainder of the journey, a few scattered junipers and pines offer welcome shade on the trail’s exposed slopes. The route is tougher than it looks, so bring more water than you think you’ll need plus sun protection and energy snacks. The sweaty trek pays off with ever-improving views of  landscapes romanticized in the novels of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour.  On top, volcanic boulders tossed among tall pines and manzanita shrubs provide ample rest spots to take in views of a cabin-dotted valley below and layers of mountain profiles melting into the horizon.
Top of Milk Ranch Point
LENGTH: 8 miles roundtrip
RATING: difficult
ELEVATION:  5400’- 7332’
GETTING THERE:
Pine Trailhead (south)
From the intersection of State Routes 260/87 in Payson, go 15 miles north on SR 87 to the Pine trailhead on the right. The trail begins at the Arizona Trail gate and map kiosk.
Rim access (north)
From the Pine trailhead, continue north on SR 87 to Rim Road (Forest Road 300). Turn right and continue 1.3 miles to Forest Road 218, turn right and go 3.8 miles to the trailhead at the junction of FR218 and FR 9385R. A high-clearance or 4x4 vehicle is necessary and the and may be closed when wet or snowy.
INFO:

Monday, May 1, 2017

THOMAS POINT TRAIL #142

THOMAS POINT TRAIL #142
Oak Creek Canyon viewed from Thomas Point Trail
West Fork, West Fork, West Fork!  Like a beleaguered middle sister who covets the attention lavished upon her prettier sibling, Thomas Point Trail suffers in uncelebrated fabulousness.  Both routes share Sedona's Call of the Canyon trailhead, so why is one so precious and the other not so much?  It’s probably because Sedona’s dramatic West Fork Trail, is the glitter-dusted flying unicorn whereas Thomas Point Trail is more like a pack horse hauling an apple cart.  But if you appreciate the kind of trek that holds its treasures in remote, thorny places-- this is your trail.
The lower part of the trail runs through pine-oak woodlands
Back in the days before the completion of State Route 89A and Interstate 17, the journey between Flagstaff and Sedona was made on ridiculously steep and precarious routes like Thomas Point Trail. The aggressively vertical path is one of four that climb to the top of the east walls of Oak Creek Canyon. The other trails are Telephone, Harding Springs and Cookstove. Built by the Thomas Family in the 1890s, the trail served as part of a horse and wagon transport network.
Today, horses and bikes are not allowed on it, and you’ll understand why at about the half-mile point. The foot traffic only rule might be one reason why the trail gets little use.
The route’s lung-busting ascent, vertigo-inducing edges and short length are also deterrents. But, hold off on the “meh”. Whether done in combination with its celebrated big sis or as a solo out-and-back, this is one you’ll be happy you did not pass up.
The upper trail is exposed to sun & drop offs
The mile-long unrelenting climb, begins in a shaded pine-oak forest but soon curves around a notch in the cliffs to head east along a slim path that’s exposed to both the sun and precipitous drop offs above Oak Creek Canyon. This is not a good choice for acrophobics because there are some spots where the rough-hacked trail kisses the edge.
Western Wallflower blooms March - September
The steepest parts of the trail pass through a chaparral zone with yucca and cacti clinging to crumbling limestone escarpments. 
Upper trail
Near the top, sharp turns, high-step maneuvers and sketchy segments require some route-finding skills. While watching your step and scratching your head, don’t forget to soak up the carousel of vistas that unwind on the way up. Look for views of the coniferous greenery of Secret Mountain Wilderness, crimson sandstone strips of Slide Rock State Park and the bristly high plateau of Harding Point. At trail’s end, sightings of Flagstaff’s peaks cap off the hike in all its freckled and flawed grandeur.
LENGTH: 2.5 miles roundtrip
RATING: difficult
ELEVATION: 5320' - 6320'
GETTING THERE:
From the traffic circle at State Routes 179/89A in Sedona, go 10.5 miles north on SR 89A and turn left at the Call of the Canyon Day Use Area.  There’s a $10 daily fee per vehicle to park.
The trail begins near the map kiosk at the West Fork trailhead. Hike 0.25 mile on the access path, cross SR89A and pick up the trail marked by a concrete step and metal sign post.
INFO: Coconino National Forest

Monday, April 24, 2017

MUD TANK TRAIL, BRAD'S TRAIL & FROG TANK LOOP

MUD TANK TRAIL, BRAD'S TRAIL & FROG TANK LOOP

Munds Park Trail System
Mud Tank
Just off Interstate 17 a few miles south of Flagstaff, a mix of Coconino National Forest roads and footpaths have been adopted by the Munds Park Trail Stewards-- a non-profit organization that maintains and builds recreational routes around the mountain community. The Munds Park Trail System offers a varied menu of both ATV and hiker options enhanced with a plethora of eye candy and points of interest.
Typical scene on the Mud Tank Trail
The Iron Springs Trailhead serves as the system’s nerve center with a map kiosk showing an overview of the entire matrix as well as providing a launch point for the Mud Tank Trail, Brad’s Trail and Frog Tank Loop.
A good way to get warmed up before exploring the system’s longer routes is to step out on the Mud Tank Trail.  This effortless walk among Ponderosa pines is open to hikers, bikers and equestrians and culminates at a stock pond. The watering hole is a quiet, pretty place surrounded by oak trees and a muddy fringe of animal footprints. A stroll along its perimeter reveals the signatures of elk, deer, raccoons, birds and the familiar impressions of dog paws. You’ll want to hang out for a while to absorb the songs of Mountain bluebirds and Stellar’s jays riding on pine-infused breezes before heading back to the trailhead to pick up Brad’s Trail. Named for forest service volunteer Brad Bunsell (1958-2011) who, according to a tribute at the kiosk, never met a rock he couldn’t move, the path serves as a non-motorized connector to the Frog Tank Loop.
Frog Tank
The mile-long trail is also the main artery for paths that access private communities. Look for directional signage tacked to trees to stay on course. The Frog Tank Loop junction marks the beginning of a delightfully irregular, 3.1-mile trip through thick, coniferous forests, sunny meadows and scenic water features. Heading right from the junction, the route descends on a rugged shared-use road to meet the distressed channel of an intermittent stream.
Meadow on the Frog Tank Loop
Keep an eye out for motorized traffic while ogling the eroded banks, reflecting pools and trickling rivulets. The loop connects to a maze of forest roads that can cause confusion if you’re not paying attention. Just look for the Frog Tank Loop signs at each intersection and you’ll be fine. As the trail swings westward, it emerges into a moist, green pasture that drains into Frog Tank. Only foot traffic is allowed around the pool’s sensitive berms, so travel lightly or better yet, take a break beneath one of the massive trees on the perimeter and try to spot some of the animals that come there to drink and swim.
Pine Thermopsis bloom April through July
Beyond the tank, the trail crosses a canyon-bound waterway cluttered with high-country wildflowers like Pine Thermopsis and wild roses before heading uphill to a point just above the steep-walled passage. Once at the top of the climb, look for a couple of spur paths leading to the lip of the gorge. Carefully peer over the edge for dizzying glimpses of vertical basalt walls and a log-jammed creek. Around the next bend, community paths and cabin rooftops signal the end of the loop where you'll backtrack on Brad’s Trail to the start point.

Intermittent stream on Frog Tank Loop
LENGTH:
Mud Tank Trail: 1.6 miles roundtrip
Brad’s Trail: 2 miles roundtrip
Frog Tank Loop: 3.1 miles
RATING: easy-moderate
ELEVATION: 6500’ – 6700’
Sign on Brad's Trail
GETTING THERE:
Iron Springs Trailhead:
From Interstate 17 in Munds Park, take the Pinewood Blvd (Forest Road 240) exit 322 and continue 0.8 miles to Crestline Road. Turn left and go 0.8 miles (road will turn into Oak Dr.) to Iron Springs Road, turn right and go 0.2 mile to the trailhead gate. Park along the street, pass through the gate and hike 0.3 mile to the big trailhead kiosk.
INFO:

Monday, April 17, 2017

NASH POINT

NASH POINT

Coconino National Forest.
Hikers approach the Calf Pen Canyon overlook
Forest Service road maps can burn the eyeballs. Black tentacles sprawled across paper maps or smart devise screens bearing nondescript numbers and letters give clues about road conditions, where you can take a motorized vehicle and nearby towns and landmarks.
But, where do the roads go? Why would a road end abruptly at no particular destination? The best way to find answers is to park and hoof it.
Forest Road 9365R north of the town of Strawberry is a good one to try because its terminus-- marked only by an “X” on most maps-- is a memorable sight.  
View from Nash Point
Located on the Mogollon Rim just outside of Fossil Springs Wilderness Area, the road begins as a typical backwoods Jeep route. On a base of sandstone, smothered in a forest of Alligator junipers and Ponderosa pines, hikers pass through a pinecone cluttered corridor bolstered by massive rock slabs. At about a mile into the trek, the road meets a clearing with wide views of Deadman Mesa on the border of Coconino and Tonto National Forests. At this point, it’s possible to spot the hike’s objective—a basalt knob poking up from the edge of a bluff off to the right. From here, the route heads downhill passing a mucky stock tank and barbed wire relics. After a brief traipse through a low saddle, the rock underfoot changes from tawny sandstone to ashen volcanic boulders and pebbles. Here, the degraded path goes uphill on a juniper-populated slope overlooking Calf Pen Canyon. Fossil Creek flows through the colorful, rugged gorge, but you’d be hard-pressed to see it from this vantage point. On clear days, Flagstaff’s San Francisco Peaks are visible on the horizon.
Calf Pen Canyon
From the Calf Pen vista, the highpoint of the hike stands out as a wall of lichen-encrusted steel-gray basalt at road’s end. Nash Point rises to 6546 feet at the edge of Gila and Coconino Counties. A moderate scramble to its summit reveals enhanced views of Calf Pen and the Fossil Springs area. Although it’s not clear why anybody would have built a road to such an odd place, the jumbled perch provides satisfying closure and animates an uninspiring “X” on a map.
Views along FR 9365R
Nash Point. PHOTO: Randy Cockrell (used with his permission)
LENGTH: 5.3 miles round trip
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 6250' - 6526'
GETTING THERE:
From the junction of State Routes 260/87 in Payson, go 17.5 miles north on SR87 to Fossil Creek Road in the town of Strawberry. Continue on SR 87 for another 2.2 miles to just before milepost 273 and turn left into a dirt parking lot.
Pass through the gate (close it behind you) and hike the road. At the 0.25-mile point, continue straight at a fork and at the 0.5-mile, veer right and a second fork. From here, the route is obvious.
Coconino National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Maps, April 2017 Updates:

Sunday, April 16, 2017

CORNVILLE NON-MOTORIZED TRAILS

CORNVILLE NON-MOTORIZED TRAILS
View of Mingus Mountain and Jerome from Backbone Trail
Spanning the space Northeast of the Verde River between the communities of Bridgeport and Cornville is a system of trails that just got a shot in the arm. Although the trails have been around for awhile, a recent influx of grant dollars has helped fund new trailheads, signs and fresh trail construction. The Cornville Non-Motorized Trails project is being coordinated by Yavapai County and the Cornville Community Association in partnership with the Forest Service. The overall goal is to establish a 12-mile network of routes to link the two towns. The work-in-progress is coming together quickly and is now open to hiking, biking and equestrian use.
New signs were installed in March 2017
The trails located between Zalesky and Tissaw Roads are mostly complete, signed and easy to follow. This segment of the system is anchored by the Backbone Trail which passes through a wash-riddled high desert with views of Jerome and Mingus Mountain to the west and Sedona to the north.
Backbone Trail
Cliff-rose and paintbrush
Two loops—Zalesky and Side Oats—attach to Backbone making for roughly 6-7 miles of hiking between the two trailheads. The single track dirt and sand paths brush by subdivisions, farm houses and plenty of open country with limestone escarpments and a smattering of juniper trees dotting grassy plains. This exposed landscape hosts a plethora of blooming plants including Cliff-rose, Crucifixion-Thorn, Mormon Tea and dozens of ankle-high wildflowers. Near Tissaw Road, the trail climbs a tiny mound for glimpses of Sedona's House Mountain and the Verde River watershed.
Sego lilies bloom along the trails 
Across Tissaw Road, the system continues to evolve with new construction happening on the Dog Leg, Creosote and Black Grama Loops.

LENGTH: 12 miles total
RATING: easy-moderate
ELEVATION: 3170' - 3560'
GETTING THERE:
Zalesky Road Trailhead (Bridgeport):
From Interstate 17 north of Camp Verde, take the McGuireville exit 293 and go 12.3 miles west on Cornville Road to State Route 89A. Turn left and continue 1 mile to Zalesky Road, turn left and go 0.1 to the trailhead on the left.
Tissaw Road Trailhead (Cornville):
From Interstate 17 north of Camp Verde, take the McGuireville exit 293 and go 11.2 miles west on Cornville Road to Tissaw Road. Turn left and continue 1 mile to the trailhead on the right.
INFO: