|The llamas of the Ranch at Fossil Creek|
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
RIM COUNTRY LLAMA HIKES
Several years ago after an alpine (4 a.m.) start and 15 miles of hiking 5000 feet up a Colorado 14er peak, I hauled my self up those last breathless few hundred feet to claim my victory moment, and encountered---llamas. A tour company that employs the llamas to do the heavy lifting, taking the load off the backs and feet of the climbers, had escorted a group of hikers to the mountaintop sherpa-style. This--I learned--was the smart way to hike. Outfitted in rough-wove woolens and bell garlands that pinged in the brisk 14,000' winds, the rugged beasts (and a minor case of hypoxia) colored this Rocky Mountain wilderness in shades of Andes. That was the day I added, "hike with llamas" to my bucket list. As with most of the items on my list, this one mellowed into invisibility while I toodled around the state systematically working through an assortment of hiking objectives both epic and mundane. Finally through a serendipitous interest in day hikes offered in conjunction Arizona Trail Trek 2014, I was able to walk with the llamas of The Ranch at Fossil Creek. The convergence of Pine-Strawberry Trails Day and Arizona Trail hiker Sirena Dufault passing through the town on her 817-mile trans-state trek was the perfect recipe for an outdoor celebration. On Sunday, May 4, 2014, llama wrangler, Joyce Bittner conducted a short loop hike as part of the festivities, which serve as a party style shout out to all the wonderful hiking opportunities in the area and also to support Sirena's goal to raise $20,000 for the maintenance and promotion of the Arizona Trail. In addition to miles of trails on the cool forests of the Mogollon Rim, there are plenty of other reasons to pay a visit to the twin hamlets of Pine and Strawberry. Craft events, races, historical tours, proximity to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park and local business like The Honey Stand (try the Pine Wildflower honey) and That Brewery (yummy Arizona Trail Ale) complement the perfect summer escape.
Pine-Strawberry is located roughly 110 miles north of Phoenix on AZ87 (Beeline Hwy).
THE RANCH AT FOSSIL CREEK LLAMA HIKES
Half-day tours cost $65 per person ($40 for children under 12 years). Reservations are required.
RIM COUNTRY INFO:
CONTRIBUTE TO ARIZONA TRAIL TREK:
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
SEDONA WRITER CHALLENGES THE RED ROCK PASS PROGRAM
|May 2014 issue|
Is the Red Rock Pass program necessary and beneficial to protect and maintain one of the most heavily visited areas of the Coconino National Forest? Or, is it double taxation and straight up government exploitation of Sedona's rich outdoor recreational landscape? The jury is out. In the May 2014 issue of The Noise Arts & News, Sedona writer Cindy Cole grills new Red Rock District Ranger Nicole Branton about the program's purpose and challenges its legality. Whether public land fees ruffle your feathers or not, this is an interesting read for Arizona outdoor enthusiasts.
The Noise is available at 245 locations in Northern Arizona.
More from the author:
Monday, May 5, 2014
GOLDWATER LAKES TRAIL #396
|Upper Goldwater Lake|
When completed, Prescott's Circle Trail will make a 50-mile loop tour around the mile-high city using existing hiking trails, bike routes, roads and newly constructed paths. Swooping through a mixed bag of pine-wrapped mountains, creek side greenery, windy grasslands, municipal parks, national forests and high-country lakes, the route highlights the scenic diversity surrounding Arizona's original capital city. More than a dozen trailheads along major roads make hiking the route in segments or via car shuttle treks a cinch. One favorite segment for day hiking in warmer months is The Goldwater Lakes Trail #396. Massive canopies of Ponderosa pine, Alligator juniper and oak provide cooling shade as the route winds above the lakes and across the boulder-flanked ravine and crisp waters of Bannon Creek. Although the trail proper does not go to the lakes, obvious spur trails will get you there. The trek is anchored by two trailheads, which connect to longer national forest routes and, of course, the rest of the Circle Trail.
|Granite Mountain & Thumb Butte visible beyond the trees|
LENGTH: 4.7 miles one-way
ELEVATION: 5630' - 6165'
|Spur trails lead to the water|
From Phoenix, travel north on I17 to the Cordes Junction interchange and head west on AZ69. Follow AZ69 to Senator Hwy/Mt. Vernon Ave., turn left and continue 4 miles the Watershed #299 trailhead on the left. Trail #396 begins across the road.
Follow directions above, but continue past Mt. Vernon Ave to Montezuma St. (a.k.a. White Spar Dr, AZ89). Turn left and go 3 miles south to the White Spar Campground on the left.
|Pools at Bannon Creek|
Prescott Circle Trail & Maps: