Friday, July 6, 2012
WALNUT CANYON GUIDED HIKE
Coconino National Forest
Have you been wanting to step out onto state-traversing Arizona Trail, but don't know how to begin? Say, here's an idea-- how about taking a moderate stroll with ranger Jane along an historic passage above Flagstaff's Walnut Canyon. In addition to enjoying a cool hike in the pines, you'll learn a thing or two (or ten) about the geological and human history of the canyon.
DATE: Saturday, July 14, 2012, 9:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m.
LENGTH: 5 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION: approx. 6600'-6400'
INFO & REQUIRED EQUIPMENT:
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Squirrel Spring Recreation Area
Fed by three gurgling mountain streams and located adjacent to several campgrounds, Squirrel Spring Recreation Area is a popular, year-round playground with ample parking, picnic tables and restrooms. With over 14 miles of multi-use trails, this destination offers easy hiking among gigantic Ponderosa pines, bramble-choked creeks and glades. A good introduction to this trail system is the Ponderosa Trail #2.
Like a walk through the mythical earthly paradise of Shangri-La, the path wanders through a grassy-green valley enveloped by rolling hillsides and abrupt, stony escarpments. The route is somewhat befuddling, so, here’s the plan: From behind the trailhead kiosk, walk a quarter-mile on the wide, old road to a large metal gate. Pass through the gate and continue uphill to a junction at roughly the 1.5 mile point. Stay on trail #2. The trickiest intersection comes at mile 1.7 where there’s a small “#2” sign posted on a tree on the left. Here’s where you’ll leave the wide road and use the blue diamond symbols as your guide to complete the loop.
HIGHLIGHTS: easy hiking with lots of greenery and nearby campgrounds
LENGTH: 3.5-mile loop
ELEVATION: 8,300 – 8,700 feet
DRIVING DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 237 miles
From the stoplight in Eagar, go west on AZ260 for 9.6 miles to AZ373. Go south (left) on 373 and continue 2.2 miles to the Squirrel Spring Recreation Area on the right.
Monday, July 2, 2012
Highway 87 north of the Blue Ridge area and in the vicinity of Jack's Canyon on the Mogollon Rim is closed today. Please check with the forest service before heading out to the area.
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Narrow and deep, the rough-hewn upper reaches of West Clear Creek are a maze of cracked and tilted tributary slot canyons scoured out of contorted layers of sedimentary rocks. From its headwaters on the Mogollon Rim, the creek rips through a riparian gallery forest before merging with the Verde River 40-miles downstream. The Tramway Trail #32, which offers the easiest access to this pristine wilderness, begins on the cliffs overlooking the canyon. Here, remains of a defunct cable tram that was used from 1942 to 1965 to stock the creek with trout, hangs in rusted knots from an enormous Ponderosa pine tree. The route into the canyon is a spider crawl along a thin trail that clings to the siltstone precipice like a rocky fire escape. For those who are not bothered by heights, this trail’s steep switchbacks, rock-scrambles and dizzying drop-offs deliver a substantial adrenaline-rush.At the base of the trail, there’s a well-worn primitive campsite above a large pool of water where healthy tufts of Canada violets and ferns sprout from the loamy soil. Although the campsite marks the official end of the trail, adventurous hikers can pick their way along the creek through thick, wildlife-rich woodlands. At every bend in the stream, contorted, 800-foot-high canyon walls converge and seem to swallow up the sky only to release it as seldom-seen alcoves emerge from beyond the clutch of the stony precipice.
Contained within the striated walls of a remote canyon on the Mogollon Plateau is the most expressive example of what might happen if the powerful hand of Nature applied a sledgehammer to a mesa and filled the resultant wound with water.
LENGTH: 1 mile round-trip (on trail) with exploratory options
ELEVATION: 6,650’ – 5,900’
From Phoenix, go north on I17 to the AZ 260 interchange near Camp Verde. Go east on AZ 260 (General Crook Trail) to the junction with AZ 87. From there, go north (left) and continue for 11 miles to Lake Mary Road (Forest Road 3). Go north (left) on Lake Mary Road and continue for 7.5 miles to FR 81. Turn west (left) onto FR 81 and drive 3 miles to FR 81E. Follow FR 81E and the “Tramway Trail” and generic “trail” signs for 3.6 miles to FR 693. Go west (right) on FR 693 and continue 1.2 miles to a fork in the road. Turn left at the fork and drive less than a half-mile to the trailhead. A high-clearance vehicle is required.
INFO: Coconino National Forest, Mogollon Rim Ranger District (928) 477-2255