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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

WEST FORK OF OAK CREEK: POST FIRE


WEST FORK OF OAK CREEK: POST 2014 SLIDE FIRE
Sedona
Narrow Canyon Pool, Oct. 7, 2014

I cried when I first learned that the 2014 Slide Fire had crept into the West Fork of Oak Creek, impacting one of Sedona’s premier hiking destinations. Prior to the blaze, the soaring crimson and buff canyon walls that cradle the creek were embellished with pines, maples, elders, willows and hop trees. In spring, apple blossoms burst from an abandoned orchard and in autumn, the canyon glowed in shades of russet, gold and orange. After a months-long closure, the forest service re-opened the canyon on October 1, 2014.  I re-visited a few days later and found that the damage is minimal. The vast majority of the trail is intact and I only noticed six areas of moderate fire damage---but nothing bad enough to detract from the canyon’s beauty.  Despite our wet summer, water levels in the creek are very low and the sandbars are stained black with ash. But, low water means that hiking into the slot canyon beyond the maintained trail is now easy to do without having to wade. On October 7th, the leaves were just beginning to show some color, which means the week of the 15th should be prime time for fall foliage hiking.
LENGTH: 3.3 miles one-way
RATING: easy with 13 creek crossings
ELEVATION: 5324' – 5594’
FEE: $10 daily fee per vehicle or $2 per person walk in
FACILITIES: restrooms, picnic tables, no water
Fire damage at creek crossing #11

GETTING THERE:
From the AZ179/89A traffic circle in Sedona, veer right and continue 10.5 miles north on 89A to the Call O the Canyon trailhead on the left.
INFO: Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 928-203-2900

Sunday, October 5, 2014

ASPENS ON THE ARIZONA TRAIL


ASPENS ON THE ARIZONA TRAIL
Arizona Trail Passage 34, Flagstaff
Aspen color on October 5, 2014

Trekking the Arizona National Scenic Trail Passage 34 can best be described as hiking through an aspen alley. Although this section of the 817-mile, state-traversing route is well over 30 miles in length, some of the best fall foliage viewing happens in the 4-mile strip of forest between Forest Road 418 and Bismarck Lake . Right from the start, hikers are immersed in colonies of slender, white-barked trees with feather-duster-like canopies that glow in shades of gold from early to mid-October. After about a mile, deep woodlands of pines and firs overcome the aspens.  Here, sporadic, survivor aspens stand out like torch flames.  At the 1.8 mile point, a small grove adds spots of color and at 2.7 miles, the aspens return with a vengeance, dominating the trail all the way to the Bismarck Lake junction in the shadow of Flagstaff’s San Francisco Peaks.



LENGTH: 4.2 miles one way
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 8287' - 8897'
GETTING THERE:
From Flagstaff go 19 miles north on US180 to Hart Prairie Road (FR151) at milepost 235.
Turn right and go 1.6 miles to FR418, turn left and continue 1.1 mile to the trailhead.

INFO: