Wednesday, July 20, 2011
MOENKOPI (a.k.a. Jack's Canyon)
There’s a whole lot of nothing along AZ 87 between the dusty streets of Winslow and the edge of the Mogollon Rim. From the highway, this dismal strip of badlands and tumbleweeds appears to hold little opportunity for outdoor recreation.
However, this grit-cloaked backyard of the boondocks holds a secret. Just a few miles beyond the pavement, a fracture in the landscape harbors a lusty green oasis and some of the best sport climbing routes and exploratory hiking paths in the state. A short spur trail heading west (go left) from the trailhead register through a grove of junipers leads to the edge of Jack’s Canyon, which is also known as Moenkopi, a Hopi word meaning “place of running water”. From here, a mildly steep trail drops from the sun-parched savanna into a grape vine-laced riparian corridor hemmed in by striated limestone walls. Myriad footpaths on the canyon floor weave among cottonwood trees, junipers and willows forming a maze of hiking options. Adventurous hikers may choose to venture beyond the beaten paths to bush whack and scramble into the remote reaches of this Garden of Eden in the middle of nowhere.
LENGTH: up to 4 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION: 6,245’ – 6,097’
RATING: moderate, exploratory
DOG RATING: fair
KID QUOTIENT: just okay
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 153 miles one-way
FACILITIES: restroom, primitive camping
INFO: Mogollon Rim Ranger District, 928-477-2255