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Thursday, July 2, 2009


PHOENIX MAGAZINE JULY 2009 Still looking for more summer hiking destinations in Arizona? Then, pick up a copy of PHOENIX magazine’s Summer Hiking Guide. Inside you’ll find 19 trails (personally hiked, reviewed and photographed by yours truly). And, at only $3.95 a pop, it’s one of the best bargains in modern hiking literature. ON NEWSSTANDS NOW. Here’s where you can find PHOENIX magazine: Safeway Fry’s Marketplace Wal-Mart Costco Sam’s Club Sunflower Markets Sprouts Borders Barnes & Noble CVS Walgreens Sky Harbor Airport Albertson’s Fresh & Easy Lowe’s Home Depot Target Whole Foods Basha’s A.J.’s La Grande Orange The Kitchen Area hospital gift shops WEB SITE: ORDER BY PHONE: 480-664-3960


LAGOON LOOP Dead Horse Ranch State Park Short in length but jam-packed with fun this wide dirt trail swings around a lagoon built by channeling Verde River water into a cove surrounded by colorful cliffs and views of the ore-rich hillsides of Mingus Mountain and Jerome. Level enough to accommodate strollers and wheelchairs, the trail stays close to the banks of the lagoon for up-close encounters with ducks, chattering warblers and swarms of red-winged blackbirds. Higher elevations, cool breezes and easy access to restrooms, drinking water and shaded picnic areas make this a popular destination for fishing, camping, and biking. HIGHLIGHTS: Kid-friendly, watch able wildlife, close to civilization LENGTH: Quarter-mile loop RATING: easy ELEVATION: 3,300’ GETTING THERE: From the park entrance, the trail is accessed from any of the lagoon parking areas. Information: Visit or call (928) 634-5283 Fee: There’s a $6 day use fee per vehicle.


FATMANS LOOP TRAIL Coconino National Forest Named for a narrow rock passage on the foothills of lava dome volcano, the Fatmans Loop #25 is one of the most popular hiking trails in Flagstaff. A great destination for kids because of its short length and continually changing points of interest, the route gives the feeling of being “out there” without cutting the umbilical cord to civilization. The highlight of the hike is Fatmans Pass, where hikers must shimmy through a set of narrow boulder passages in the shadow of Elden Mountain. Because of the easy-to-follow path, terrific vista views, and lots of cool shade, the fact that the “golden arches” are visible on the horizon doesn’t sully the experience in the least. HIGHLIGHTS: Close-to-town, easy-to-follow and great views of Flagstaff. LENGTH: 2-mile loop RATING: easy ELEVATION: 6,900’ – 7,500’ Driving distance from Phoenix: 150 miles one-way GETTING THERE: From Flagstaff, travel north on AZ89 to the signed “Mt. Elden Trailhead” which is located just past milepost 419. Information: (928) 526-0866 or


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


RAPTOR HILL Dead Horse Ranch State Park A hike up Raptor Hill drives home the important impact the Verde River has on the surrounding landscape. Climbing the arid hillsides above the river, startling contrasts between the high desert scrublands and the green river gorge below assault the senses. The abrupt transition from a moist, burgeoning oasis to a parched lunar-scape happens in just 500 feet of vertical hiking. From high points along the trail, the ancient ruins of Tuzigoot National Monument and remnants of 20th century mining operations dotting the mountainsides frame unobstructed views of the Verde’s rare and fragile ribbon of life. HIGHLIGHTS: Visual vantage points above the Verde River LENGTH: 6 miles round-trip RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 3,350’ – 3,850’ GETTING THERE: From the park entrance, follow the main road to Flycatcher Road (2nd road on the left) where there’s a “Tavasci Marsh” sign. Follow this road less than a mile to the signed parking area. Information: Visit or call (928) 634-5283 Fee: There’s a $6 day use fee per vehicle.


BROOKBANK TRAIL Coconino National Forest UPDATE: AS OF JULY 2010, THIS TRAIL IS CLOSED INDEFINITELY DUE TO THE SHULTZ FIRE. Built by an early Flagstaff settler to provide a route to the alpine meadows that define the upper reaches of the Dry Lake Hills, this old wagon route is a favorite destination for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. Buried in deep layers of snow in winter, the bowl-shaped meadows become soggy, seasonal lakes in spring. Water lingers in these high-altitude ponds into early summer when they dry out and are transformed into a riot of wildflower color. On the sun-drenched summit plateaus, patches of aspens and whispy, thigh-high grasses frame peek-a-boo glimpses of the San Francisco Peaks. HIGHLIGHTS: Close to town, alpine meadows, conifer forests and up-close views of the San Francisco Peaks. LENGTH: 5 miles round-trip Rating: moderate ELEVATION: 7,700’ – 8,400’s Driving distance from Phoenix: 165 miles one-way GETTING THERE: From Flagstaff, travel 3 miles north on Highway 180 to Schultz Pass Road (Forest Road 420). Turn right on FR 420 and continue for roughly a mile, then veer left on Elden Mountain Road (Forest Road 557). Continue on FR 557 for 3 miles to the signed Oldham trailhead on the right. Park there and hike up the road about a tenth-of-a-mile to the Brookbank trailhead on the west (left) side of the road.