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Thursday, June 5, 2014



Alfa Fia Tank

Just off Passage #34 of the Arizona Trail, a tiny pool in an alpine meadow reflects images of soaring peaks.  Here, among disheveled barbed wire, knee-high forbs, wildflowers and infant conifers, an awe-inspiring panorama of see-forever-vistas tumbles seamlessly down exposed slopes. On most days at Alfa Fia Tank, cool mountain air rushes over ambient prairies with hair-whipping ferocity. These cyclonic breezes are created when warm air creeps up the mountain and collides with crispy alpine drafts churning down from Arizona's highest massif.  This windy cocktail swirls in airy eddies muddled with pine and the earthy scent of last year's deadfall.
Places near big mountains like this one are known to create their own weather systems, and in summer, that means nippy mornings followed by cloud build ups that often erupt in afternoon rainstorms. Whether hiked as an easy stroll from Aspen Corner or as a water-gathering detour while trekking the 36.1-mile segment of the Arizona Trail that passes below the San Francisco Peaks, the mile-long walk around Alfa Fia Tank is a revitalizing trip of astonishing beauty.

LENGTH:  1.1 mile
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 8730’ – 8932’
Looking west 
From Flagstaff, go north on US 180 to Snowbowl Road (FR 516) at milepost 223.  Turn right and continue 5.3 miles to the parking apron on the left at Aspen Corner. From the opening in the fence, take the wider trail heading right, veer left at the first fork and continue straight past the Arizona Trail junction and follow the trails around the tank.

Arizona Trail Association:


Rainbow Rim gets fresh tracks along the North Rim of Grand Canyon

PHOTO: courtesy Kaibab National Forest
Kaibab National Forest PRESS RELEASE:

FREDONIA, Ariz. - Friends of the North Kaibab Ranger District, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), the Southern Nevada Mountain Bike Association (SNMBA), Zion Cycles, and Utah Mountain Biking Tours volunteered their time this past Memorial Day weekend to break ground on the new Rainbow Rim trail extension located along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on the Kaibab National Forest.

The Rainbow Rim trail connects five scenic vistas along 18 miles of the North Rim, and each offers its own unique view of the surrounding landscape.  The current trail begins at Parissawampitts point, continues to Fence point, Locust point, North Timp point, and ends at Timp point.

"We welcome riders to come lay down some fresh tracks as the trail extension project progresses and we encourage those who would like to volunteer to help complete the trail to join us," said Melissa Robinson, North Kaibab Ranger District recreation specialist and coordinator for the trail extension. "We have worked diligently to get this trail extension to fruition, and we are delighted to offer an awesome new scenic trail for mountain bikers, horseback riders, and hikers alike to see our forest from a completely new perspective."

The new trail extension will consist of new construction and about four miles of road-to-trail conversion. When complete, phase one of the trail extension will start at Timp point and head east in and out of the pines. The new single-track extension will offer sections for beginners to advanced riders giving everyone a unique perspective of some very epic views along the canyon rim. During the weekend of work, volunteers cut, hacked, dug and removed debris along the trail and completed 1,500 feet of the 8-mile extension.

"Eventually, the trail extension will continue and tie into the existing trail back to Parissawampitts," Robinson added. Once the loop is complete, riders will be able to ride the lollipop for nearly a full 32-mile loop.

The North Kaibab Ranger District trail crew helped scout and flag the trail extension under the supervision of experienced rider and IMBA Southwest Regional Director Patrick Kell, in order to ensure it met IMBA trail-building standards and so it would be ready for volunteers to cut and bench that weekend. The trail crew will be working throughout the summer on this and other projects on the forest.

Photos of the ongoing project are available at For updates and information on volunteering to help complete the Rainbow Rim extension, please contact Melissa Robinson at (928) 643-8120. For more information on the IMBA, please visit


Monday, June 2, 2014



Old box at Big Leroux Spring

There's big news at Big Leroux Spring. For the first time in more than a century, this important water source at the base of Flagstaff's San Francisco Peaks has been freed from its 1930s-era concrete box. Well, partially, anyway. Having been diverted and capped for municipal drinking water for years, the spring box was reconfigured in June 2013 returning a portion of the flow to the surface. This is the first step in the restoration of the site's original wetland ecosystem and possible reintroduction of vanished native plant and animal species. Located at the head of Flagstaff's Rio de Flag watercourse, the sister springs of Big and Little Leroux have been an a critical resource for Native Americans, explorers and homesteaders. Named for Antoine Leroux, a prolific 19th century guide who assisted  the Sitgreaves Expedition and the journeys of Lt . Edward Beale (of Beale Wagon Road fame), ownership of the  springs area has changed hands numerous times over the years. It's currently owned by the U.S. Forest Service and used for firefighter operations and Hot Shot headquarters. 
With the goal of restoring the site to a healthy, self-sustaining  riparian environment, the woodlands around the springs have become an outdoor research area where ongoing data collection will aid in future conservation plans.  Restoration of the site is mostly a volunteer effort and although water flow varies with the seasons, a visit to the springs pays homage to the work of the Friends of the Rio de Flag, a local advocacy group toiling to preserve the history and hydrology of  Flagstaff's watersheds.
Meadow near Little Leroux Spring

LENGTH:  2.6 miles roundtrip
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 7520’ – 7600’

From Flagstaff, travel north on US180 to Snowbowl Road (FR 516) at milepost 223.
Turn right and go 1 mile to where FR 516 makes an abrupt right turn with an unmarked dirt road straight ahead.  Park along this road in front of a gate which marks the beginning of the hike.
From the trailhead, pass the gate using the wood stairs and hike 0.3 mile to a fork.  Go left here and continue to a second fork where you'll turn right.  At the third fork, go left for Big Leroux or right for Little Leroux.
Rain gauge near Hot Shot headquarters
Friends of the Rio de Flag
Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience

Bill Williams Watershed Closure 2014

 Kaibab National Forest To Take Additional Precautions
To Prevent Human-Caused Fires
UPDATE: closure will be lifted at 8 a.m., July 8, 2014.

Kaibab NF Press Release, 6-2-2014:
 WILLIAMS, Ariz. – The Kaibab National Forest is taking additional steps to reduce the risk of preventable human-caused fires.  As of Friday (June 6) at 8 a.m. the North Kaibab Ranger District will enter campfire and smoking restrictions, and the Williams Ranger District will close the Bill Williams Mountain Watershed to public entry. 
Under the North Kaibab Ranger District’s campfire and smoking restrictions, which are also known as Stage 1 fire restrictions, fires, campfires, charcoal, coal and wood stoves will be allowed in developed campgrounds only.  The restrictions will also limit smoking to within enclosed vehicles or buildings or in developed campgrounds. 
 On the Williams Ranger District, which is already under Stage II fire restrictions, the Bill Williams Mountain Watershed will be closed to public entry.  This includes hiking, horseback riding, driving, camping and all other recreational and industrial activities.
 The Bill Williams Mountain Watershed closure area will be bounded to the east by 4th Street and County Road 73, to the south by Forest Service Road (FSR) 122, to the west by FSR 108, and to the north by Interstate 40.  (THIS INCLUDES BILL WILLIAMS MOUNTAIN TRAIL, BENHAM TRAIL, BIXLER SADDLE and all trails on or around the mountain.)
 Forest managers often close the Bill Williams Mountain Watershed to public entry during fire season.  Bill Williams Mountain is the primary watershed for the City of Williams, and a major wildfire and subsequent flooding would be devastating to the city and surrounding communities. 
The entire Williams and Tusayan ranger districts remain under Stage II fire restrictions, which prohibit campfires, even in developed campgrounds; prohibit discharging a firearm, except while engaged in a lawful hunt; and, limit many industrial activities.
 For detailed information about fire restrictions and the closure of the Bill Williams Mountain Watershed, visit or call the Kaibab National Forest fire information phone line at (928) 635-8311.
 For information about fire restrictions across Arizona, visit or call 1-877-864-6985.