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Monday, November 15, 2010


NEW RIVER NATURE PRESERVE New River Just north of the New River exit on I-17 in the valley off to the right is a slender band of green standing out like the odd fluorescent crayon in a box of mundane desert hues. Cluttered with a mix of fan palms, willows, mesquite, native walnuts, cottonwood, gum and sycamore trees, this tiny, Garden-of-Eden-esque strip of arboreal slendor thrives on perennial spring waters. Deeded to the Desert Foothills Land Trust in 1994, this rare 20.8-acre habitat will now be preserved for future generations and is open during daylight hours to hikers and people on bikes or horseback. Although short in length, there are plenty of opportunities for exploring. Several well-worn side paths leave the main dirt trail leading to secluded coves and rocky washes where active wildlife including hawks, coyote, rabbits, javalena, deer and countless birds populate the hillsides and treetops. Hike this oasis in spring for a fabulous display of wildflowers, or take a stroll in fall to see the arboreal canopy ablaze in shades of gold. Best time for fall color is mid-November through mid-December. LENGTH: 1-mile roundtrip (exploratory) RATING: easy ELEVATION: 2,150-2,240 feet BEST SEASON: October - April GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to the New River exit (exit 232) . Go east for about an eighth mile to the frontage road where there’s a “welcome to New River” billboard beyond the stop sign. Turn left (north) here and continue roughly 2.2 miles (the road turns to dirt after 1 mile, but it’s passable by sedan) to a 3-way junction where there’s a row of mailboxes and a street sign reading Coyote Pass/Old Stage Road. Park across from the mailboxes. There's room for about 3-4 cars. Do not block the private driveways in the area. From here, follow the dirt road straight ahead and in about 0.1 mile, there will be a New River Preserve sign and a gate. Hike down the road and explore. INFO:, 480-488-6131, MORE PHOTOS:

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