Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Wildland-Urban Interface hiking
FORT VALLEY TRAIL SYSTEM
Located in Fort Valley Restoration Project treatment area, this collection of serpentine trails winds among Ponderosa pines and Gambel oaks in Flagstaff’s Wildland-Urban Interface. Here, sensitive woodlands fringed with human living spaces melt into bear-and-cougar territory. Years of fire suppression here (to protect nearby homes and business) has compromised native species and also created forests with way too many trees. In short, this means unhealthy, tinderbox conditions. There’s an informative sign near the trailhead that explains what’s being done to restore the forest to its historical healthy conditions. Take notes---there's also info on the sign about how you can help!
A work-in-progress, the trail system is mapped out at the trailhead kiosk. Trail signage is somewhat lacking/confusing but does the job if you’re at all familiar with the area. The maze of paths are very popular with mountain bikers and they connect with the Arizona Trail, Schultz Creek Trail and the Dry Lake Hills trails. Not–too-tough and sprinkled with views of the San Francisco Peaks, this loopy-knotted hike is a pleasant, shady, though unspectacular day trip.
LENGTH: 6.7 miles of interconnecting trails—with more in the works.
ELEVATION: 7,230’ – 7,870’
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 149 miles
In Flagstaff, go north on US180 (Fort Valley Road) to FR164B located about 0.1 mile past milepost 220. Turn right and continue roughly 400 feet and veer right to stay on FR164B. The trailhead is just a few yards beyond the turn off. Roads are paved/good dirt and passable by sedan.
INFO: Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff Ranger District, 928-526-0866