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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

WALKER LAKE


WALKER LAKE
Coconino National Forest
Walker Lake in August

Arizona's own crater lake resides quietly within the bowl of a nondescript volcano north of Hart Prairie.  From a distance, the pine-speckled hill doesn't appear to be anything special.  But a short walk up a closed road reveals a shallow lake filling a vent that spewed lava in its former life.  The road makes an easy climb to the lip of the crater where it transitions into a footpath that follows the fortress-like rim. The high vantage points offer
fantastic views of the San Francisco Peaks, Kendrick Mountain, White Horse Hills and Hochderffer Hills---volcanos all. Numerous paths also lead down to the ephemeral lake that in summer shrinks to a patchwork of shallow  puddles besieged by clouds of colorful dragonflies.   The crater forms sort of a  wet "meadow in a bowl" fostering a swale of wild field mint, daisies, silverweed, and New Mexico vervain as well as a herds of thirsty elk that frequent its reliable watering holes.

Walker Lake in August
LENGTH: 1-2 mile roundtrip
RATING: easy
ELEVATION:  8,060' - 8,189' 
GETTING THERE:
From Flagstaff, go north on US180 for 19 miles to the northern exit for FR151 (Hart Prairie Road) just past milepost 235.  Turn right and continue 1.6 miles on the good dirt road to FR418.  Turn left and go 0.2 mile to the second road on the left (across from a log cabin).  Go left onto this dirt road (FR9007S), continue 0.2 mile to a roundabout, veer right onto FR9004S (sign is not obvious) and continue to a circular parking area near where FR 9219T heads right.  The trail begins at the “road closed” sign in the northwest end of the parking area. Dirt roads are passable by carefully driven sedans.