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Friday, August 8, 2014


Coconino County

San Francisco Peaks

During summer monsoon season, mornings at Rogers Lake County Natural Area are heralded by veil-like strands of mist exhaling from the San Francisco Peaks like a great smoking giant awakening at the edge of sprawling acres of blooming calliopsis daisies. This dreamy scene rewards early bird hikers at the pastoral 2,250-acre site located 10 miles southwest of Flagstaff. More than half of the area is a boggy wetland where vividly-colored daisies, lupines, paintbrush, vetch, butter and eggs, wild mint and penstemons competing for territory in the loamy soil splatter shocks of "natural graffiti"
across an expansive high-altitude meadow. The "lake" vacillates from a post-snowmelt season crystalline reflecting pond to a patchwork of soggy, dog day puddles.
Despite the dubious water, the surrounding land is a hiking destination in the midst of its adolescent growth spurt. The property was acquired by Coconino County in 2010 with the goal of preserving its significant wildlife habitats and cultural sites while adding recreational opportunities.
Existing dirt roads, an abandoned railroad bed and meandering social trails can be used for hours of exploring. To minimize impact to the sensitive terrain, stick to these established paths. Future plans for the area include the building of developed trailheads, 6-miles of trails, wildlife viewing platforms and connecting paths to Fort Tuthill County Park.  Numerous parking aprons along Woody Mountain Road provide easy access.  I like to one where there's a dirt road leading to a sunny clearing with views of the peaks and the beginnings of tantalizing new trail construction piggy backing on the abandoned rail bed.  Although there's plenty to enjoy here right now, the anticipation of a formal trail system will stoke interest in this exciting new hiking destination.

LENGTH: 6 miles planned
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 7255' - 7275'

From Flagstaff, go west on Route 66 to Woody Mountain Road (FR231), turn left and continue 7.7 miles south to a dirt road on the right signed, "no camping". There are additional access points at the 6.5 and 7.9-mile points near the big signs.

INFO: Coconino County

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