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Friday, June 12, 2009


KELSEY WINTER CABIN TRAIL Kaibab National Forest Expansive Sycamore Canyon is Arizona’s second largest gorge. (Guess which one comes in first). Tucked into beautiful pine, juniper and oak forests, Kelsey Winter Trail #3 is the longest of the five trails that criss-cross the central portion of the canyon. It’s also the best way to sample the woodlands, high-chaparral prairies, historic ruins and many flowing springs that make this chasm such an interesting destination. The drive in to the trailhead is half the adventure—the access roads are nasty. Yet, the beauty of this trail makes the kidney-jarring ride worth the effort. From the trailhead, begin hiking downhill along the canyon wall on the Kelsey Spring Trail. Views of Sycamore Canyon along this passage cast an eye-opening spotlight on the magnitude of this “little crack in the earth”. At the half-mile point, the trail meets Kelsey Spring. Here, a short spur trail plows through a wind-swept field of silken grasses for a fun side trip to a trough set up to collect the precious water that seeps from the cliffs. From Kelsey Spring, the trail moves through thick mixed-conifer forests, volcanic boulder fields and open meadows shimmering with vivid purple Wheeler Thistle and blaze-red skyrocket flowers. Babe’s Hole—a spring protected by a funky old cement rim and wood planks—marks the 1.2-mile point just before the junction with Geronimo Spring trail. From here, stay left and continue on the Kelsey Winter Trail--where route finding becomes a challenge. Fallen trees and overgrown vines sometimes obscure the trail past this point. That’s why it’s a good idea to carry a good map and compass when hiking this trail. Once past the obstacles, good signage leads the way to Dorsey Spring, the cabin ruins and yet another spring, which spews fresh cool water year-round. HIGHLIGHTS: Dense coniferous woodlands, canyon views, several springs and cabin ruins. LENGTH: 11 miles round-trip RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 6,600’ – 6,100’ DOG RATING: 1 paw Driving distance from Phoenix: 175 miles one-way GETTING THERE: From Flagstaff, go west on Historic Route 66 to Woody Mountain Road (Forest Road 231). Turn left onto FR 231 and drive 14 miles to Forest Road 538. Turn right onto FR-538 and go 5.7 miles to Forest Road 538E. Turn right onto FR 538E and go another half mile to Forest Road 538G. Continue straight ahead on FR 538G for one mile to Kelsey Trail Road on the left. Because this road is so rough beyond this point, it’s smart to park at the turn off and hike the final quarter-mile to the trailhead. A high clearance vehicle is required. INFORMATION: (928) 635-8200 or

Thursday, June 11, 2009


SECOND WATER TRAIL Superstition Wilderness Classic desert landscapes, a sprawling valley populated with thousands of teddy bear cholla and a tiny pocket of green where spring water feeds willows and waist-high grasses are the highlights of the Second Water Trail #236. Because the trailhead is easy-to-access and the route is relatively straight forward, this trails attracts lots of visitors. The hike begins on the Dutchman Trail #104, following it for a short distance to the junction with trail #236. From the junction, turn left and follow Second Water trail through a maze of creek beds, sandy flood plains and open fields studded with cactuses and thorny shrubs. As the trail undulates through canyons and washes, views of the stark, yet beautiful landscape chiseled from volcanic landforms open up along the high points before the trail ends at the junction with the Boulder Canyon trail where there’s a tiny spring-fed riparian eco-system tucked into a reed-lined cove. LENGTH: 6.3 miles round-trip RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 1,900 feet – 2,450 feet GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, take Highway 60 east to the Idaho Road exit (Highway 88), go left onto Highway 88 following the signs to Lost Dutchman State park. Continue to one-quarter mile past the park entrance and turn right onto First Water Road (Forest Road 78). Follow FR78 for 2.6 miles to the First Water Trailhead. FR 78 is maintained dirt with a few rough spots. There are restrooms at the trailhead. INFORMATION: Visit or call (480) 610-3300

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Coconino National Forest

Not actually made of slate, this hill is a laccolith, or a solidified heap of lava that pushed up the earth’s crust like a blister, but never broke the surface. Time has since eroded away the mountain’s top layers to expose the grayish-blue igneous rock called rhyolite, which early explorers mistook for “slate”. The moderate 5-mile round trip hike climbs 855 feet to the 8,215-foot summit.
LENGTH: 5 miles round trip
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 7,360 - 8,215 feet
GETTING THERE: From Flagstaff drive north on Highway 180 to Forest Road 191 between mileposts 242 and 243. Turn left (west) and continue on FR 191 for just under 2 miles to the signed turn off for the trailhead on the right.