|Creeping Barberry turns red when temperatures drop|
Sunday, September 11, 2011
ARIZONA'S OTHER FAY CANYON
When creeping barberry leaves take on a red blush, the last days of summer in Arizona’s high country are upon us. And so it was with this harbinger of frost underfoot that we set out to enjoy the last few bittersweet weeks of northern Arizona hiking. To do so, we selected yet another “who knew” trail in Flagstaff. With numerous limestone caves, ancient sand dune rock formations and acres of alpine meadows, Arizona's other Fay Canyon is a joy to explore. Unlike the famous (and crowded) red rock, Fay Canyon located in Sedona’s high desert, this trail sees much less activity. That's likely because there are few resources describing this hidden gem of a hike. Conveniently located in the Mormon Lake area, this route through a shallow valley connects with the Walnut Canyon Passage of the Arizona Trail, Flagstaff Urban Trails System and Sandy's Canyon. The trail is almost completely shaded as it travels the margins of a lush gorge flanked with bizarre geological structures and deep canyon drop offs. To add length, we included a side trip to Fisher Point. Here’s how:
HIKE DIRECTIONS: from the trailhead, hike 0.3 mile along the double-track dirt road paralleling Lake Mary Road. At the gate/fence located where the road makes a sharp right hand turn, pass the gate and continue straight (north) along a footpath. From here, the trail is well maintained and easy-to-follow. At two points along the route, the trail splits—in both cases, stay to the left and take the higher paths. (I’m pretty sure the splits merge eventually, but it’s just smart to stay on the main trail). At the 2.6-mile point, Fay Canyon Trail ends at a “Y” intersection with the Arizona Trail. Here, head right (east) along a well-signed path to continue on to Fisher Point and the dunes.
Whether hiked alone or as a leg on longer treks, this quiet canyon trail offers a perfect way to enjoy one last summer mountain trek.
LENGTH: 8.2 miles roundtrip as described here. Fay Canyon alone: 2.6 miles one way
ELEVATION: 6,220' – 7,033' (this description), Fay Canyon only: 6,620'-6,950'
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 148 miles one way
From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to exit 339, Lake Mary Road (Forest Road 3) located just south of the I-40/I-17 interchange in Flagstaff. From the bottom of the off ramp (across from a Circle K), turn right and go 4 miles south on Lake Mary Road to S. Wildlife Road (at the “Hitching Post Stables” sign). Turn left here and drive a few yards to a “T” intersection, veer left and continue less than 0.1 mile to the sign that reads: “ Walnut-Skunk-Fay Closure Area, No Motor Vehicles”. Parking is very limited. Please respect private property in the area by not blocking roads or driveways.
PRINT MAP : Emmitt Barks Cartography “Flagstaff Trails Map”
Flagstaff Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 928-526-0866