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Wednesday, October 8, 2008


APACHE VISTA Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
This trail has been impacted by the WALLOW FIRE, June 2011. Hovering over the town of Springerville in Arizona’s White Mountains, the Apache Vista Trail #617 showcases outstanding high-country scenery. Situated at 9,000 feet in elevation, the gentle path traipses through wide-open alpine meadows along the edge of a deep, forested canyon. Cool summer temperatures and ample rain foster profuse growths of multi-colored wildflowers and towering old-growth conifers. It’s no accident that the trail has the word “vista” in its name. Expansive views of volcanic fields and river gorges that stretch all the way into New Mexico are this trail’s signature attraction. Length: 5.2 miles round-trip Rating: easy Elevation gain: 50 feet Getting there: From downtown Eagar, go west on Highway 260 for roughly 3 miles to the Highway 261 junction. From there, turn left (south) on Highway 261 and continue for 7.2 miles to the trailhead on the left.


The "shark fin" at trail's end
The ruins beneath the arch are likely reconstructed
Fay Arch
inside Fay Arch
Typical scene along the trail
FAY CANYON TRAIL Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness, Sedona Hiding in plain site in the cliffs above Fay Canyon Trail, are historic and geological wonders you won’t want to miss. However, you’ll need a keen eye to locate them. About a mile into the shaded high-desert canyon, look for an artful cairn and a faint spur trail on the right. From there, Fay Arch and remnants of an ancient stone structure are visible in the cliffs high above the trail. A short but steep hike up to the arch is worth the effort because the enormity of the Supai sandstone bridge and the adjacent slot canyon is best experienced up-close. The exploratory adventure doesn’t end at the ruins, though. The trail terminates at a prominent “shark fin” formation surrounded by cliffs that offer easy climbing and impressive views of Sedona. LENGTH: 2.4 miles round-trip RATING: easy (with a tricky optional side trip) ELEVATION: 4,500'-4,800' Fees: A Red Rock Pass ($5 daily fee per vehicle) is required. GETTING THERE: From the junction of Highways 179 and 89A (the “Y” traffic circle intersection) in Sedona, turn left onto Highway 89A and continue for 3.2 miles to Dry Creek Road. Turn right on Dry Creek Road (Forest Road 152C) and continue 2.9 miles  to the  Long Canyon/Boynton Canyon Road intersection. From here, turn left to stay on FR-152C and continue to Boynton Canyon Road. At the intersection, turn left onto Boynton Pass Road and drive for about a half-mile to the trailhead on the right.
INFO: Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest


WINDMILL HIKE Superstition Wilderness Free-form in nature and easy to access, this hike follows a casual maze of trails that meander among dilapidated, tin-roofed corrals, wooden fences and a windmill that lost its blades years ago. The ruins are surrounded by twisted barbed wire and stand as decadent sentries in an expansive desert canyon where herds of cattle once enjoyed the shade and fresh spring water that still feeds water holes scoured out of the area’s volcanic crags. The trail begins on an old dirt road that leads to the ruins. From there, narrow footpaths lead to many points of interest including a spectacular slot canyon where the songs of vociferous cardinals and canyon sparrows bounce off the cliffs and harmonize with the sound of rusty metal swaying in the breeze. LENGTH: 2 miles round-trip ELEVATION: 2249' - 2146'  RATING: easy GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, take US 60 east to the AZ88 (Idaho Road) exit, go left at the intersection and continue  to the turn off for FR 78/First Water Road locates about 0.25 mile past Lost Dutchman State Park. Follow FR78 to the horse staging area on the left and park in the adjacent lot. Hike back out onto FR-78 and continue for a short distance to an unmarked dirt road on the left. There’s a gate a few yard in from the road, which marks the beginning of the trail.


TABLE TOP MESA Table Top Wilderness Area WARNING JULY 2010: THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT HAS POSTED A WARNING SIGN ALONG THE ACCESS ROAD TO THIS TRAIL ADVISING OF DANGERS ASSOCIATED WITH ILLEGAL DRUG SMUGGLING ACTIVITIES. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK! Near the 4,356-foot summit of Table Top Mountain, a series of low walls stand in stony silence over the sprawling desert lowlands of the Vekol Valley. Blurring the border between truth and legend, the origin and purpose of the walls is shrouded in mystery, baffling archeologists and geologist alike. Easy-to-spot from the freeways near Casa Grande, the distinct, solitary flat-topped mesa is a familiar landmark rising 2,000 feet above hazy cotton fields and desert plains. Getting to the top is easier than it appears, though. An obvious, gradual trail crawls up the mountain through bajadas, ancient basalt lava flows and pristine communities of ironwood and mesquite to the crest of the mesa. There, a breezy, 40-acre yucca-dotted grassland rolls out like an overgrown shag carpet stitched together in loose clumps of sun-bleached, earth-tone fodder. LENGTH: 7 miles round-trip RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 2,300 – 4,356 feet Getting there: From Phoenix, travel south on Interstate 10 to Interstate 8. Go west on I-8 to the Vekol Valley Interchange (exit 144). From there, go south on Vekol Road for 2.1 miles to the Vekol Ranch turnoff, veer right, and follow the “trail” posts for 15.2 miles to the signed campsite with vault toilets. The dirt access road is well maintained and marginally passable by sedan. However, a high-clearance vehicle is recommended due to some sandy portions and deep ruts. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is required if the roads are wet. Information: Visit: or call (623) 580-5500