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Tuesday, July 27, 2010


MIMA MOUNDS Springerville Volcanic Field One of the enduring mysteries of White Mountain geology is the origin of the mima mounds. Rodents, imbedded root systems and creatures from outer space all have been credited with making these roundish, 2-to-9-foot-high lumps of gravel in the meadows surrounding 10,134-foot Greens Peak—the high point of the Springerville Volcanic Field. The prevailing theory is that these curious geological features are remnants of a glacial ice field that receded some 25,000 years ago leaving behind a landscape that smacks more of Iceland than Arizona. LENGTH: 2.5 miles roundtrip from the base of Greens Peak to the summit and back RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 9,000 – 10,134 feet BEST SEASONS: April - November GETTING THERE: From Show Low, go east on SR260 to Forest Road 117 located near milepost 380 roughly one mile past the sign for Railroad Grade trailhead. Turn left (north) on FR 117 and go 2.7 miles to FR 61, veer left and continue 1.1 mile to FR 61C. You may park here and stroll out into the meadows, or continue 1.25 miles up FR 61C to the top of Greens Peak for expansive views of cinder cone-dotted meadows. Roads are maintained gravel.


HART PRAIRIE PRESERVE The Nature Conservancy, Flagstaff Before the arrival of European settlers on the western slopes of Flagstaff’s San Francisco Mountain, Hart Prairie was a healthy patchwork of meadows, willow-cluttered wetlands, rings of aspens and a smattering of pines where regular low-intensity natural fires and a community of top-tier predators helped keep the ecological balance in check. Over the past hundred years, the effects of altered hydrolics, fire suppression, and the introduction of invasive plants and non-indigenous animals have transformed the landscape. In 1994, 245 acres of Hart Prairie along with an historic lodge and guest cabins were donated to The Nature Conservancy. Since then, the organization has set out to restore the alpine meadows to their former natural state through creative collaboration with the forest service, local landowners and other conservation groups. This ambitious restoration project is a work-in-progress and is open to visitors only by guided nature walks offered every Sunday from June 13th to October 10th (except September 12th). The walks are easy, last roughly 90-minutes and cover topics such as topography, willow biology, and wet meadow dynamics. LENGTH: variable, but about a mile RATING: easy & educational ELEVATION: 8,500 feet BEST SEASONS: June - October GETTING THERE: Tour groups meet at 10:00 a.m. sharp at the Fort Valley Plaza Shopping Center, 1000 N. Humphreys St. at the southwest corner by the guardrail. Reservations are not required. Participants must wear sturdy shoes and bring sun protection, rain gear and plenty of water. No pets or food are allowed in the preserve. Fees: Tours are free, however, donations are appreciated. INFORMATION: (928) 774-8892 or e-mail


KACHINA TRAIL Kachina Peaks Wilderness The mountains of Flagstaff are known to create their own weather. In summer, that means it rains almost every day around the peaks--spiking the air over the Kachina Trail with an earthy-sweet dampness. Benefiting from its auspicious location on the windward side of the mountain, this trail sprouts green in rainforest proportions. Aspen clusters mimic white out conditions and hip-deep swaths of frothy ferns tumble over the slopes in vivid emerald waves. Add to this already amazing hike--a cozy lava cave, terrific views and fields of lupines growing in manic abundance and it’s easy to understand why this hike ranks as one of Arizona’s best. HIGHLIGHTS: Sun-drenched alpine meadows, musty pine forests and interesting geology LENGTH: 10 miles roundtrip ELEVATION: 8,600-9,500 feet BEST SEASONS: April - October RATING: moderate DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 155 miles one-way GETTING THERE: From Flagstaff, go 7.3 miles north on US 180 to Snow Bowl Road (Forest Road 516). Drive 6.6 miles up  FR 516 to the signed turnoff for the large parking lot and trailhead on the right. INFORMATION: Peaks Ranger District, (928) 526-0866,