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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

ROCKY RIDGE

ROCKY RIDGE Coconino National Forest Unusual because of its hybrid desert-alpine climate zone, the Rocky Ridge Trail #153 plays host to an eclectic mix of desert and alpine plant life. This seemly schizophrenic environment is a result of its location in the rain shadow of 9,295-foot Elden Mountain. Large massifs are known for creating their own weather. In this case, precipitation is diverted from the western slopes, robbing Rocky Ridge of the moisture needed to sustain a pure alpine climate zone, despite its altitude. Yet, it’s this happenstance of nature that makes this trail so interesting to explore. Stunted scrub oaks, yuccas and cactuses live within sight of majestic pine and aspen trees on the other side of the mountain. The trail undulates lazily as it contours the slopes passing through dry washes, exposed volcanic ridgelines and sunny meadows making for an easy day hike with great views. HIGHLIGHTS: Hybrid, desert-alpine eco-system, easy tread and epic views. LENGTH: 4.4-miles, round-trip RATING: easy ELEVATION: 7,300’ – 7,650’ Driving distance from Phoenix: 160 miles one-way GETTING THERE: From Flagstaff, drive 2 miles north on US180 to Schultz Pass Road (Forest Road 420). Go right and continue on FR 420, bearing left at the junction with Forest Road 557. From the junction, go another quarter mile and make a sharp right turn onto a dirt road that goes steeply downhill just beyond a cattle guard. The trailhead is at the bottom of the hill. Information: (928) 526-0866 or fs.fed.us/r3/Coconino

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