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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fall Color Report: Sept. 21, 2013

MOGOLLON RIM: 9-21-2013

Spotted these aspens across from the Horse Trap trailhead near Willow Springs Lake today--AZ260 between milepost 284-285.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Celebrate National Public Lands Day

Saturday, September 28
Honanki Heritage site, Sedona

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of National Public Lands Day---the largest single day of volunteer work in the nation-- by participating in one of the 28 events going on in Arizona. Choose from Verde River Days at Dead Horse Ranch SP, trail maintenance, clean up at South Mountain Park and the public release of California condors at Vermillion Cliffs. So whether your prefer to get your hands dirty or simply take a stroll, check out the NPLD website for a list of AZ events. Also, it's a fee-free day at  National Parks, State Parks and the Red Rock Pass normally required for Sedona area venues (like Palatki and Honanki Heritage sites) will also be waived.  

Arizona State Parks


Did you know that during the Great Recession, volunteers came to the rescue to save our state parks?  All those wonderful trails and campgrounds are open, clean and ready for your next outdoor adventure. So how about showing some appreciation by visiting a park this month. Don't know where to start? Just pick up the OCTOBER issue of PHOENIX magazine and check out my article (Great Escapes, pg 56) for recreational suggestions, special October events in the parks and also how you can get involved. And, oh yeah, you can eat that 4000-calorie breakfast on the cover if you go hiking later.

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

Thursday, September 19, 2013

National Forest 2013 Fall Color Hotline is now active

Barbershop Trail, (1st week in October) Mogollon Rim

And, we're off!  Fall color hiking season is now underway and the hotline is up and running.  The first report for region 3 (southwest )  states that there is no color yet in Arizona.  Coconino National Forest reports that peak color is expected  to happen during the first 2 weeks of October.  Keep in mind, that "peak" is just that---the hump.  So, look for foliage in the higher elevations beginning in the last week of September.

Wilson Meadow (1st week in October), Flagstaff 
Coconino National Forest weekly updates:

USDA R3 weekly updates:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sinagua equinox event

V-Bar-V Heritage Site Fall Equinox Hike & Presentation

Ancient peoples of the Verde Valley were consumate astronomers who left a treasure trove of solar calendars and other etchings in the russet sandstone around Beaver Creek.  This Sunday, researcher and author Ken Zoll will be speaking on the petroglyphs of  V Bar V and hosting the autumnal equinox LIVE as it  passes over one of the site's Sinagua sunwatchers.  This is a rare opportunity to see both earth science and archeological research in action.  The hike is an easy 1 mile roundtrip.

WHEN:  Sunday Sept 22, 2013
TIME: 1 p.m.
FEE: $5 per vehicle or valid Red Rock of Federal Interagency Pass
Take I17 north to the Sedona exit 198, turn right and go 2.8 miles on FR618 to the site.
Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Equinox excursion with fall color


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.
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 and Howard Draws.  Although it's pretty much an off-the-radar kind of place for hiking, the wildly contoured limestone walls of these side-by-side  shallow canyons are major "draws" 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 draws delve 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.

Late September color in Howard Draw

LENGTH: 3 miles roundtrip
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 6,900' - 6650'
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 is required.  Follow FR238  0.3-mile to the parking corral.   AREA IS DAY USE ONLY.