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Friday, September 28, 2012

2012 Fall Hiking Guide

Hiking and Beer
October 2012

Now, here's the article I was born to write. Looking to put a twist on the annual October Fall Hiking Guide, the editors at PHOENIX magazine asked me to provide 11 hikes near some of the best local breweries and wineries in Flagstaff, Prescott, Sedona, Cottonwood, Bisbee and Tucson. That was a no-brainer. However, I didn't get to do much drinking as associate editor Niki D'Andrea had the (tough job) task of writing the drinking part of the article. The result---your ultimate "hike one-hoist one" ode to autumn. Enjoy. Mare

Here’s where you can find PHOENIX magazine: Safeway, Fry’s Marketplace, Wal-Mart, Costco, Sam’s Club, Sunflower Markets, Sprouts, Borders, Barnes & Noble, CVS, Walgreens, Sky Harbor Airport, Albertson’s, Fresh & Easy, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Target, Whole Foods, Basha’s, A.J.’s, La Grande Orange, The Kitchen, Area hospital gift shops WEB SITE: ORDER BY PHONE: 480-664-3960

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Beware of road work near some favorite Flagstaff fall color hikes

Road work on FR 515 (Hart Prairie Road) and FR418 will slow down access to several popular fall color hikes and drives including:  Wilson Meadow, Bismarck Lake, and some entry points for Arizona Trail Passage 34.  Construction will only take place Mondays-Thursdays through December 14, 2012.  Plan accordingly.
Hart Prairie, Oct. 1, 2010

From: "Magee, Brienne U -FS" <bmagee@FS.FED.US>
Date: September 26, 2012 12:40:19 PM PDT
Subject: SOUTHWESTERN-NEWS-RELEASE: Coconino National Forest Information
Construction to begin on Hart Prairie Road (Forest Road 151)

Flagstaff, AZ – Visitors to the Hart Prairie area this fall should expect delays while traveling on Hart Prairie Road (Forest Road 151) and Forest Road 418; Road construction efforts will be taking place starting October 1. 

Delays of up to two hours may occur. Travelers with high-clearance vehicles can use FR 794 - located approximately five miles north of the FR 151/Highway 180 junction - as an alternate route. FR 794 is not maintained for passenger vehicles.  

Contractors will work Mondays through Thursdays, dawn to dusk, as weather permits. The project could last until December 14.  Activities include improving drainages, road reconditioning, and resurfacing with crushed aggregate on eight miles of FR 151, as well as five miles of FR 418 from the FR151/418 junction to the east.

For additional information, contact the Flagstaff Ranger District at 928-526-0866.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Aspens on Sept. 22, 2012

As the annual autumn equinox (Sept 22) brings the promise of cooler temperatures in the Valley, it also heralds in a brief season of hybrid summer-fall hiking in Arizona's higher elevations.
Limestone cliffs
During the final week of September, high country trees break with whispers of a warm autumnal palette above meadows awash in a slurry of hanger-on summer blooms and past-prime grasses. This glorious dichotomy of balmy sun and biting breezes serves up perfect trekking with a side of camera-ready photo opportunities.  An interesting area to explore this subdivision of hiking nirvana is Priest Draw.  Although it's pretty much an off-the-radar kind of place for hiking, the area's wildly contoured limestone walls make it a major "draw" for the sport of bouldering.  Complementing the surrounding vegetation, a bank of caves, roofs, tunnels and pocked-and-cracked walls result in unmitigated visual overdose.  Add to that the hordes of mat-packing climbers hanging upside down and scaling the rock superfly style, and you've got a hike of extraordinary interest.  The draw delves through woods and fields for roughly 1.5 miles to a point where the cliffs disappear.  Here, footpaths continue on sans the manic mix of geology, athleticism and natural elements on a seasonal cusp.
Priest Draw

LENGTH: 3 miles roundtrip
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 6,900' - 6,650'
From Phoenix, travel north on I17 to Lake Mary Road exit 339, which is south of the I40 interchange just before entering Flagstaff.  Turn right, and at the bottom of the off ramp, turn right again.  Continue 5.4 miles south on Lake Mary Road (FR3) to Crimson Road---this is on the right hand side of the road just past the Canyon Vista Campground turnoff.  Turn right on Crimson and then make an immediate left onto CR 132.  Continue 3 miles on CR132 (which is good gravel) to a dirt road on the right signed "Priest Draw parking area".  This is FR238, a deeply rutted (watch that entry drop), unmaintained road where a high-clearance vehicle is required.  Follow FR238 0.2 mile to the first (small) parking apron or to 0.3 mile for the main parking corral.   AREA IS DAY USE ONLY.