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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A stumbled upon "social trail"

Coconino National Forest
Schultz Loop

Weenie Walk
Seems like every time I'm out hiking in Flagstaff, I discover at least one "no-name" trail. The forest service refers to these unauthorized user-created routes as "social trails".  Apparently, mountain bikers and renegade hikers have blazed their own maze of secret  trails---and they DO have names as I've come to learn---mostly from bikers kind enough to fill me in and an underground map acquired from an anonymous source.  Cool names, even, like Super Fly, Jedi, Ricochet and the one we stumbled upon recently:  Weenie Walk.  The "social trails" link below connects to a forest service document explaining why these user-created paths can be problematic and what plans are in the works to meet the need for additional recreational routes. Anyhoo, as non-motorized cross country travel in non-wilderness areas (which would include hiking on fugitive trails) is currently legal on the Coconino, we made an unplanned detour on Weenie Walk while hiking the Schultz Loop trail.  Here's how:
From the trailhead, locate the start of the Schultz Loop trail, pass through a big "road closed" sign after about 0.1 mile and continue another 0.6 mile to a junction with a sign indicating to turn right to head toward the Schultz Creek Trail.  This is where to turn right is all you want to do is the loop, however, the woodlands flanking the road leading straight ahead looked so inviting, we took a detour.  After hiking up the road about 0.4 mile, we noticed an unsigned trail heading off to the left.  Again, it looked so green and pretty, we just had to explore.  We didn't know it at the time, but we had just entered the Weenie Walk.  This slim path climbs gently uphill, paralleling the Brookbank Trail briefly before swinging east to eventually  connect with Sunset Trail.  It's a beautiful, quiet, pine-shaded stroll that passes through several sunny meadows.  We got about 2 miles in when claps of thunder in the near distance hastened our decision to turn around and head back to the Schultz Creek Junction and complete the loop in totally legal territory.
LENGTH:  1.6 mile (loop), 5.6 round trip with Weenie Walk as described here.
RATING:  easy
ELEVATION:  8,000' - 8,100' or 8,000' - 8,700'
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 155 miles one way
From Flagstaff, travel north on US 180 to milepost 218.6 to  (FR420) Schultz Pass Road.  Turn right and continue 0.5 mile to a fork, bear right to stay on FR420 and go 4.9 miles to the Sunset Trailhead on the right.  Schultz Pass Road is maintained dirt with a few rough spots.  High clearance is recommended, although we got through in a sedan.
INFO: Flagstaff Ranger District, 928-526-0866

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now, let me get this straight. "Social" trails and even "anonymous" sources and people documenting them are somehow okay, but vehicles driving on recently closed roads must be reported as lawbreakers? I truly enjoy and appreciate your blog, but this seems like a double standard.