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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Happy tails at Usery Mountain Park

Usery Mountain Regional Park
A hopeful pup and her handler arrive at the trailhead

More than 29 miles of hiking trails bumping up against Mesa's Goldfield Mountains grace this lower Sonoran Desert park.  The miles are divided up among 19 routes ranging from easy to difficult, so there's something for everyone---including those who require or prefer barrier-free trekking. For hikers pushing strollers or turning wheels, the Merkle Trail is just the ticket.  Off limits to bikes and horses, the flat, graded path makes a loop through lush vegetation with outstanding mountain views. On the first Saturday of each month from November through April, the public is invited to hike this trail along with adoptable dogs from Maricopa County Animal Care’s east shelter. “Wag & Walk” hiker dogs are already spayed or neutered and available to go home on the spot with reduced adoption fees and a chance to win free county park passes.  Even if you’re not looking for a new fur baby, hiking among a pack of happy tails makes for a memorable morning in the desert.

Volunteers hike with adoptable dogs

LENGTH: 1-mile loop
RATING: easy, barrier-free
FEE: $6 park entry fee per vehicle
FACILITIES: picnic tables, restrooms, water,
3939 N. Usery Pass Rd., Mesa AZ 85207
From Phoenx, travel east on US60 to the Ellsworth Road exit.  Go north on Ellsworth to the park entrance.
UPCOMING WAG & WALK HIKES:  All hikes begin at 9 a.m. at the Merkle trailhead (area 6 parking). December 7, January 4, February 4, March 1, April 5. No registration required. 
INFO: Maricopa County Parks & Recreation, 480-984-0032

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bull Pen access to West Clear Creek to re-open Saturday Nov. 2, 2013

Forest Service to reopen Bull Pen on Saturday
From the forest service: 
Sedona, Ariz. – The Coconino National Forest Red Rock District will reopen the Bull Pen Recreation Area for day use beginning Saturday, November 2.

Public use at Bull Pen will be limited to day use only, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., with no overnight camping allowed. Dispersed camping will be allowed at locations at least one mile from the Bull Pen area.

The presence of numerous cottonwood and sycamore trees with dead hazardous limbs prompted the closure of the area in May. The Forest Service then conducted a risk assessment. As a result of the assessment, management changes are being implemented for public safety. Hazardous trees have been removed or limbed within an area designated for day use. This area includes several parking areas and a toilet location.

The tree cutting was conducted during the past month so biological impacts could be minimized. The creekside forest is environmentally sensitive due to habitat for the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a bird species proposed for the Endangered Species Act list, as well as Black Hawks and other nesting and hibernating wildlife that depend on trees.

Access to the West Clear Creek Wilderness for backpackers and hunters will again be available by parking at the West Clear Creek Trailhead at the Bull Pen Day Use Area.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Burns at the Red Rock District office at 928-203-7529.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Arizona Trail event this weekend

Friends of Redington Pass Fall Meet & Greet
Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013

Located between Tucson's Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains, Redingtion Pass ---which includes Passage 10 of the Arizona Trail---has a lot to offer hikers. Learn more about the history, lore and natural treasures of this scenic Southern Arizona recreation area this Saturday when reps from AZ Game and Fish, Coronado National Forest, OHV Ambassadors and other outdoor-related organizations will be on hand at the Tanque Falls Trailhead. Event runs from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Friends of Redington Pass:
Arizona Trail: