Thursday, August 5, 2010
WEST FORK of the BLACK RIVER Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest UPDATE: this trail was damaged by the WALLOW FIRE, June 8, 2011. Check with the forest service for updates. The Black River snakes downhill from its headwaters in the White Mountains near the Arizona-New Mexico state line to its confluence with the Upper Salt River near Fort Apache. During its 90-mile course, the river runs through mostly remote and inaccessible terrain. Yet, West Fork Trail #628, which parallels one of its most scenic tributaries, is easy to find and gives a good sense of the river's life-giving power. The trail is mostly flat and follows a simple path above the rugged volcanic walls of the river canyon. Breathtaking views of massive basalt rock-falls and expansive prairies will have you reaching for your camera every few yards as the trails moves closer to the rim above the river gorge. Known as a great place to spot elk, you’ll need to hit the trail at dawn or dusk for the best chance to see these amazing vegetarians emerge from the cover of sub-alpine forests. In summer, the Wapiti (elk) seldom venture more than a half-mile from water and can usually be seen foraging along the banks of the West Fork of the Black River in the twilight hours. LENGTH: 5 miles round-trip RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 8,870 – 8,500 feet BEST SEASONS: April - November GETTING THERE: From downtown Eagar, go west on Highway 260 for 2.8 miles to the Highway 261 junction. Go left (south) on Hwy 261 and continue for 16.3 miles to Highway 273. Turn left and go roughly 3 miles to Forest Road 249E. Turn right and follow FR249E 2 miles to Forest Road 68. Take FR 68 another mile to the trailhead on the side of the road. ALTERNATE ACCESS: See Thompson Trail blog entry. INFORMATION: Springerville Ranger Station, 928-333-4372, fs.fed.us/r3/asnf
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
ARIZONA WILDFIRE INFORMATION Summer hiking in Arizona often involves finding a trail that's NOT ON FIRE! This is the bane of my existence from June through October. Keeping up with the annual onslaught of forest fires can be a challenge--that's where your smart phone or computer can come in really handy. The following Web sites provide information on current wildfires AND some even let you link to news feeds via e-mail, Twitter and Facebook. Seriously, these services have saved me countless hours of driving. Imagine heading up to the high country in anticipation of a fun day on the trails only to have your plans thwarted by fire. No. Fun. Also, these feeds provide valuable information about prescribed burns--so you won't panic unnecessarily. InciWeb (Incident Information System): http://www.inciweb.org/state/3/ Coconino NF: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/fire/index.shtml Tonto NF: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/tonto/fire/ Apache-Sitgreaves NF: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf/fire/ Arizona Interagency Wildfire Prevention: http://azsf.az.gov/fire_information/
Monday, August 2, 2010
For all you hikers who appreciate and enjoy learning about Arizona's amazing geology---check out the Arizona Geological Survey's online newsletter. The latest issue features a very cool "Photo Tour of the Verde River" as well as articles about AZ earthquakes and new findings about the origins of the Grand Canyon. If you've ever wondered about the land underfoot and on the horizon while hiking, the AZGS is a great source. Here's the link: http://www.azgs.az.gov/arizona_geology/summer10/arizonageology.html
FIRST WATER CREEK OVERLOOK Superstition Wilderness Whatever you do, don’t be deterrered by the ugly electrical tower in a dirt turnoff along State Route 88, which serves as the trailhead for this hike. In fact, if you didn’t know what you’re looking for, you’d fly right by this austere landmark. But, for those in the know, it marks the start of a pleasant amble to a breezy cliff overlooking Canyon Lake and the stunning beauty of the lava-borne canyon of First Water Creek. Slightly rocky, but not to difficult to follow, the informal footpath winds among huge boulders and wind-swept desert plants for a short but memorable leg-stretch for those on their way to or from Tortilla Flat or Canyon Lake. LENGTH: 1 mile roundtrip RATING: easy ELEVATION: 2,038-1,858 feet BEST SEASONS: October - April GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, travel east on US 60 to the Idaho Road/SR 88 exit. Follow SR88 north roughly 12 miles to a dirt pull out between mileposts 207 and 208 and park near the electrical tower that bears a hand-painted #174.