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Thursday, August 14, 2014



Pumphouse Wash

Seven miles south of Flagstaff along Interstate 17, Pumphouse Meadow near Kachina Village harbors family-friendly hiking trails. You've probably whizzed right by it on your way back from a mountain retreat or even stopped at the off ramp gas station. So, next time, why not stay awhile and take a walk on the easy paths that explore this 128-acre wetland habitat at the headwaters of Oak Creek Canyon, a major tributary of the Verde River.   Spring-fed Pumphouse Wash can be toured via the 0.75-mile, Pinon Trail.  Enhanced with stone viewing blinds and interpretive signs describing the ecosystem and its resident flora and fauna, the dirt path is hidden under the cover of pines on a bluff above the wash, to optimize wildlife viewing opportunities.  Patient hikers can expect to see fox, waterfowl, raptors, elk, lizards and countless other birds and mammals. Additionally, the site has a barrier-free walkway leading to an artfully crafted platform with a viewing scope.  Restrooms, water, ball fields and shaded picnic ramadas at adjacent Raymond County Park add comfort to the journey whether enjoyed as a short detour or daylong outing.
Viewing blind
LENGTH: 0.75-mile one-way
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 6720'-6740'

From Flagstaff, travel 7 miles south on I17 to the Kachina Village exit 333.  Turn right onto Kachina Blvd., continue less than a mile to Kachina Trail, turn right and go a short distance to the parking lot at Raymond County Park on the right. Hike down to the viewing platform and pick up the footpath heading northwest.
Restrooms, water, picnic tables
INFO: Coconino County Parks & Recreation
Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience

Monday, August 11, 2014


BNSF trains pass by about every 15 minutes

The multi-faceted hiking network of the Flagstaff Urban Trails System (FUTS) is the perfect complement to the hundreds of miles of wilderness and national forest trails surrounding the city.
FUTS (say, "foots") uses sidewalks, gravel roads and dirt single tracks for a seamless web of hiking/biking routes that link in-town strolls and meanders through suburban wetlands to more rigorous peripheral trails. Although many of the system's offerings appeal to those looking for a quick way to burn some energy without having to drive miles to a trailhead, several routes located at the
urban-woodland interface mimic the feel of more remote locations.  Tunnel Springs Trail is sort of a city-rural-wildland hybrid hike melding the convenience of easy access just off busy Route 66 with a moderate climb through Ponderosa pine forests.  Passing under and above BNSF railroad tracks, the trail's companion cacophony of metal-on-metal screeching and mournful freight car rumbling is the hike's signature characteristic. The clamor of wailing rails fades as the trail ascends Observatory Mesa along a smooth, gravel road.
Trail signs are few and unmarked crossroads can cause confusion. Here's the plan. From the trailhead, follow the walkway between the private homes down to a road paralleling the railroad tracks.  Turn left here, pass through the tunnel and veer left again. Pass a gate and go right to stay on the widest road heading uphill. At the green tanks (Lowell Tanks), go left and continue to another gate at the (unsigned) Mars Hill Trail junction. Return the way you came or continue 1.6 miles to Thorpe Park.
LENGTH: 1.9 miles one-way
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 7014' - 7404'
From Flagstaff, travel west on Route 66 to Railroad Springs Blvd. (just before mile post 194,Chevron station on corner), turn right and go 0.4-mile to a "T" intersection with Adirondack Ave. The trail begins on a path between two residences directly ahead. Park along the street.

City of Flagstaff
F.U.T.S. Map: