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Sunday, August 14, 2011

MARS HILL

MARS HILL TRAIL
Flagstaff Urban Trail System

Pluto was robbed.  Dissed by astronomers, this tiny space orb recently was demoted from planet to “plan-ette” status.  This seems absurd considering it sports two moons and a cartoon character namesake. Pluto was discovered in 1930 using a telescope on Flagstaff’s Mars Hill.  Today, the site is owned by Lowell Observatory, which has kindly granted an easement for non-motorized recreational use on its scientific preserve.  Mars Hill trail is maintained by the City of Flagstaff Urban Trails System (FUTS, called “foots”) and has several access points.  When I visited here on Aug. 13, the Thorpe Park lot was full, but I saw on the park map that I could connect to the trail from the community center—this added roughly 1 mile to the roundtrip mileage. The route is wide and smooth with good views of Flagstaff peaks, and although it passes through Lowell Scientific Preserve, you cannot get to the observatory from this trail (well, you could, but, don’t break the rules and blow it for the rest of us).  Added bonus:  after hiking this trail, you can hike from Earth to Pluto---albeit in miniature, of course--by making a side trip Lowell Observatory.  In addition to the 350-foot interpretive trail, the (usually kid-crammed) destination offers educational tours, and plenty of entertaining (a mausoleum!) diversions.  


LENGTH: 1.9 miles one-way  (or 2.4 mile one-way from the community center)
RATING:  moderate
ELEVATION:  6,933' – 7,402'
KID FRIENDLY:  yes
DOGS: must be on leash, there's a fenced bark park at the Thorpe complex
BEST SEASON: May-October
FACILITIES: restrooms, water at Thorpe Park
GETTING THERE:
COMMUNITY CENTER TRAILHEAD: From Phoenix, go north on I17 to Flagstaff.  Drive north through town on Milton Rd. to Humphrey's St. Turn left onto Humphrey's and go north to Birch Street, and continue to where the road dead ends at the community center/tennis court parking area.  Trail is the dirt road straight ahead.
THORPE PARK COMPLEX TRAILHEAD:
From Phoenix, go north on I17 to Flagstaff.  Drive north through town on Milton Rd. to Humphrey's St. Turn left onto Humphrey's and go north to Birch Street (Cherry St. works, too), turn left and continue a few blocks to N. Thorpe Road.  Turn right and continue a couple blocks to Thorpe Park on the right. Trail begins across from Frances Short Pond/Baseball/Dog Park complex.
LOWELL OBSERVATORY:
928-774-3358, http://www.lowell.edu/
MORE PHOTOS:

2 comments:

Arizona Criminal Law said...

Beautiful place to go visit! very recommended.

Margaret said...

What a great place to hike