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Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Coconino National Forest

Of the more than 600 volcanoes that define northern Arizona’s landscape, only one offers an opportunity for hikers to walk into the innards of a dormant mountain of fire. For reasons not entirely understood by geologists, the northeastern flank of Red Mountain collapsed, exposing the intricate internal structure of the 740,000-year-old cinder cone. Tiny cinders crunch underfoot along the ponderosa-shaded trail that leads into a visually striking arena of towering stone pillars and contorted lava formations. A secured six-foot ladder must be climbed in order to get into the most spectacular part of the mountain where disintegrating layers of red, ocher and black cinders create a maze of clefts and canyons and to explore.
LENGTH: 2.5 miles
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 6700' - 7000'
GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, take I-17 north to Flagstaff. Connect to Highway 180 and continue north for 33 miles then turn left at mile marker 247. Follow the dirt road for .4 mile to the fenced parking area. There are no fees and no facilities at the trailhead.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


VULTEE ARCH Red Rocks Secret Mountain Wilderness What resembles one of those plastic rock-scape thingies used in lizard terrariums and is named for a guy who crashed his plane? Give up? It’s one of the most-visited geological attractions in Sedona--Vultee Arch, a wide sandstone bridge tucked into the red-rock slopes of Sterling Canyon. In fact, the entire Vultee Arch trail oozes with the accouterments of a lizard paradise: warm sandy soils, lots of rocky ledges for soaking up sunshine and shady thickets of pungent pine-and-lavender-scented juniper and cypress trees. The fact that these same trappings also are a huge draw for people, explains the snarled masses of SUVs at the trailhead. Yet, working through the parking corundum is worth the effort to hike this trail to its end where lizards do push-ups on a bronze plaque placed in memory of the crashed plane guy and his wife in view of the arch that bears their name. LENGTH: 3.4 miles out-and-back RATING: easy ELEVATION GAIN: 500 feet FEE: A Red Rock Pass($5 daily fee) is required.

 INFORMATION: Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, (928) 282-4119
GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to exit 298 for  Sedona/Oak Creek.  Go left (west) on SR179  and continue into the town of Sedona. At the junction of SR179 and US89A (the “Y” traffic circle intersection) turn left onto Highway 89A and continue for 3.2 miles to Dry Creek Road. Turn right onto Dry Creek Road (FR 152C) and continue for 2 miles to the turn off for FR 152 on the right. Get on FR 152 and go another 4.4 miles to the signed Vultee Arch trailhead. FR 152 is a bumpy dirt road--although we've seen passenger cars at the trailhead, high-clearance vehicle is a better idea .