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Tuesday, July 22, 2014


View from the High Point Trail

After barely escaping the ravages of the 2011 Wallow Fire, Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area lives on as a family-friendly nature discovery destination.  Just over 5 miles of groomed hiking trails take visitors through the property's diverse landscape of wetlands, high-elevation pinion-juniper woodlands and rolling grasslands. A good way to get an overview of area’s conservation efforts is to hike the 1-mile High Point Trail, which loops up to the site's zenith.  Here, a 20x spotting scope provides enhanced vision for critter peeping and gasping at the hulking dome of 10,912-foot Escudilla Mountain.  In addition to its animal-haven benefits and "selfie"-worthy viewpoints, the site is also home to Rudd Creek Pueblo, an abandoned 13th-century village. Archeological digs have uncovered a plethora of artifacts and tantalizing insight to the culture and technologies of the ancestral Pueblo people who lived here for nearly 75 years. Interpretive signs along the route explain some of the research and samples of intricately painted pottery and hunting tools found at the pueblo are on display in the visitor center.  Sadly, the preserve’s Old Nelson Homestead succumbed to the fire, but the meadow-swaddled trail leading to the charred foundation is open for exploration.

Escudilla Mountain on the horizon

High Point Trail: 1-mile loop (moderate)
Rudd Creek Loop: 3 miles (easy)
Homestead Trail: 1.5 miles (easy)
Trinity Trail: 300 yards (barrier-free)
ELEVATION: 7625’ – 7836’

From Eagar, travel 2 miles south on US191/180 to the signed turn off on the right at milepost 405.  Follow the maintained dirt access road five miles to the parking area.  The road is sedan-friendly, however there is one section that floods during period of heavy rain. The property has a visitor center with restrooms, water, picnic tables, educational displays and friendly site hosts. The center is open daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., from mid-May through mid-October.  In-season hunting is allowed on the property. No fees.

INFO: Arizona Game & Fish Department,

Monday, July 21, 2014


Arizona Trail Happy Jack Passage #29
Forest near Bargaman Park

On the Mogollon Rim near Happy Jack, a loose-knit web of dirt roads connects stock tanks, ephemeral lakes, and a smattering of private ranches. Here, the Arizona Trail has incorporated some of these tracks into its state-traversing journey.   Book-ended by recreational sites around Mormon Lake and C.C. Cragin Reservoir (a.k.a. Blue Ridge), ample trail signs keep hikers on track where footpaths and vehicle ways collide and diverge in this deeply-wooded, 30-mile respite from the commotion of campgrounds and RV parks.  Easy to follow and mostly flat, Passage #29 of the Arizona Trail can be accessed via two major trailheads  (Gooseberry Spring and AZ87), but for those looking for an alternative way to day hike among the moss-humid springs and murky watering holes that populate the passage's mid-section, the lesser-known Pine Spring trailhead is the best port of entry.
A bevy of stock tanks situated around the circular depression of meadows known as Bargaman Park are located within a few miles of the trailhead.  Ringed with water-loving plants like the delicate water buttercup, the tanks are wildlife magnets. Rough-hewn hunter blinds built along their banks provide cover for camera-stalking hikers on the lookout for elk, deer, coyotes and the occasional black bear. For a quick 4.6-mile, out-and-back hike, head southeast to Wild Horse Tank, or go northwest to visit Shuffs and Maxie Tanks for a 13.8-mile exploration. Maps available on   show the route with all its points of interest.
Wild Horse Tank

LENGTH: 30.7 miles one-way
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 6702' - 7616'

Pine Spring Trailhead (as described here):
From Payson, go north on AZ87 to Lake Mary Road (FR3) just north of Clints Well.  Turn left and go 14.4 miles north on FR3 to milepost 305 and turn right onto FR294.  Continue 4.8 miles on FR294 miles to FR 135 (just before a cattle guard) turn right and go 100 feet to the trailhead on the right.

AZ87 Trailhead:
From the AZ87/260 junction north of Pine-Strawberry, travel 19.5 miles north on AZ87 to FR138 (signed Moqui Campground), turn right and go 100 yards to the trailhead on the left.

Shuffs Tank

Meadow near Pine Spring
Gooseberry Spring Trailhead:
From Payson, go north on AZ87 to Lake Mary Road (FR3) just north of Clints Well.  Continue 21.1 miles on FR 3 to milepost 312.2 turn right (east) onto a gated dirt road for Gooseberry Spring (FR 935) and drive 100 yards to the signed parking area on the right. 

INFO: Arizona Trail Association


Fay Fire: 7 p.m., May 20 update (final for this evening)

Flagstaff, Ariz. – The Fay Fire, reported just before 4 p.m. today, is located approximately 4 miles northwest of Sedona in the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness area of Fay Canyon.

The fire’s progression to the north and west is slow and the most active parts of the fire remain in the south and east sections.  Smoke is moving in a northwest direction and combining with smoke from the Willard Fire—a fire between Oak Creek Canyon and I-17 being managed for resource purposes.  Smoke from both fires is visible from Sedona, Flagstaff, surrounding communities and people driving on I-17, State Routes 89, 89A and 179.

Size: Approximately 25 acres.

Containment: 0%

Location: Originated in Fay Canyon, approximately 4 miles northwest of Sedona.

Date Reported: Sunday, July 20 at 3:41 p.m.

Cause: Single engine aircraft crash. Four fatalities have been reported. The Forest Service does not have any details in regards to reasons why the aircraft went down or what type of aircraft it was.

Fuels: Pinyon-juniper, heavy brush and mixed conifer.

Resources Currently on Scene: Approximately 30 personnel including two helicopters, two engines, one fuels crew and Sedona Fire. 

Resources Planned for Tomorrow: One hotshot crew and three helicopters.

Closures: Fay Canyon Trailhead is closed at this time.

Evacuations: None.

Structures Threatened:  None.

Injuries Reported:  None.