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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

BENHAM TRAIL

BENHAM TRAIL Kaibab National Forest Thick stands of spruce and fir trees spike the thin air on the Benham Trail with a jolt of invigorating mountain aroma. Bursting out of the highlands west of Flagstaff, 9,256-foot-tall Bill Williams Mountain is the dominant landmark in the area and the Benham Trail is the most gradual and scenic path to its summit. Bill Williams Mountain is a lava dome volcano that erupted from the earth’s core more than 4 million years ago and it’s among the oldest of the volcanic features of northern Arizona. The molten rock that pushed up the mountain in a series of oozing flows has since been camouflaged in a layer of oaks, aspens, wildflowers and fragrant conifer forests. The trail crosses FR 111 (the dirt road that leads to the summit) three times before it finally merges with it for the final half-mile hike to the top. Because the peak is cluttered with a fire lookout and an array of communication towers, you’ll need to explore carefully to discover the many panoramic viewpoints where swarms of ladybugs and inquisitive rock squirrels live quietly in the metal jungle. LENGTH: 9 miles round trip RATING: Moderate ELEVATION: 7,050-9,256 feet GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, take I-17 north to Flagstaff. From Flagstaff, connect to I-40 west and drive for 33 miles to the town of Williams. In Williams, go south on Fourth Street (FR 73/Perkinsville Road) and continue for about 3.5 miles to FR 140. Go right onto FR 140 and follow the signs for one quarter of a mile to the signed trailhead where there are restrooms but no other facilities. The paved and gravel roads are passable by sedan.
INFO & MAP: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5189838.pdf

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