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Thursday, July 2, 2009


WALNUT TRAIL Tonto National Forest On warm summer days, a faint vanilla-butterscotch fragrance rides on the canyon updrafts along the Walnut Trail #251. The sweet aroma comes not from the wildflowers or blooming shrubs, but from the bark of very old trees. At roughly 120-150 years of age, the dark bark of Ponderosa pine trees begins to crack into rough yellow-russet plates that emit the scent when warmed by the sun. These gigantic trees thrive on the slopes of Oak Spring Canyon near Pine-Strawberry. In addition to the candy-scented air, this trail features excellent views, abundant wildlife and two springs that support tiny pockets of Arizona walnut, sycamore and canyon grape. HIGHLIGHTS: Hike features dozens of species of native plants, including robust stands of native Arizona walnut trees. LENGTH: 7 miles round-trip RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 6,000’ – 5,180’ Driving distance from Phoenix: 125 miles one-way GETTING THERE: From Payson, travel north on Highway 87 for about 13 miles to just south of the town of Pine. Turn left onto Hardscrabble Road (Forest Road 428), and follow it for 2 miles to the trailhead for Pine-Strawberry Trail #15. Finding the route: From the trailhead, follow the Pine-Strawberry trail #15 south for .10 mile to the junction with Walnut Trail #251. From there, go right and continue downhill into Oak Spring Canyon. Information: (602) 225-5200 or

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