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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fall color update: Mogollon Rim, Oct 4, 2012

Fall foliage is just beginning to emerge on the Mogollon Rim.  Today we noted lots of sulfur yellow in Boxelders, spotty groves of amber oaks and gold-kissed aspens on..... 
Oak color, October 4, 2012

Mogollon Rim
Wild geranium
The densely wooded terrain of the Mogollon Rim is riddled with water-sculpted canyons and bizarre fossiliferous limestone formations.  The fractured earth makes for an interesting mix of flat-floored forests and steep gorges where water collects and cool air settles in pockets of perennial, mossy dampness.  These secluded, moist microclimates feed communities of Big-tooth maples, willows, boxelders and oaks that burst out in flaming color palettes when nudged by the cool nights and low light of early autumn.  The Rim’s Cabin Loop system of trails wiggles among spring-fed meadows and water harboring draws that play host to autumnal splotches of honey-and-crimson-colored foliage. The best part about Rim country fall color is its relative rarity---it pops up willy-nilly  among the pines and firs making each "find" feel more special than the last.  Cabin Loop trails Barbershop, U-Bar, Fred Haught and--as we visited today---Houston Brothers--all dole out visually delicious color spots that add elements of treasure hunting thrills to the routes.
Fall color at Aspen Spring, Oct 4, 2012

LENGTH:  7 miles one-way
RATING: easy. follow the tree blazes where the path is faint.
ELEVATION: 7,000'-7,774'
TRAVEL ALERT 10-5-2013: FR95 is closed between FR139G and 139A to repair the culvert over Houston Draw.  Do NOT attempt to drive thru---it's a major wreck.  You can park at FR139G and hike 0.5 mile on FR95 to the Fred Haught Trailhead or drive in from Rim Road instead.
From Payson, travel north on AZ87 (Beeline Hwy) to Clint's Well.  From here, continue 9.4 on AZ87 to just before milepost 300 and turn right onto FR95.  Follow FR95 6.5 miles to a bridge over East Clear Creek and veer right to stay on FR95.  Continue 4.5 miles to FR139A (a few yards past a sign for Houston Draw), turn left and go 0.2 mile to the trailhead marked by a sign for Fred Haught Trail.   Roads are good gravel/dirt with winding mountain grades—sedans okay.
INFO: Mogollon Rim Ranger District, Coconino National Forest

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