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Monday, August 10, 2015


Coconino National Forest
Wild Bergamot blooms on Navajo Spring Trail

Hiding across the street from the horse corral at the busy recreational hub surrounding Mormon Lake Lodge is a sweet little trail that's packed with interest. If you can get past the multiple distractions near the trailhead (the horses, the cowboys, the saloon, the lake views, the aroma of mesquite), a hike up Navajo Spring Trail offers respite from the commotion and connectivity with the Mormon Lake Lodge Area Recreational Trails (MLL) and Passage 30 of the Arizona Trail (AZT). The hike begins as an easy stroll through meadows and Ponderosa pines.
Arizona Trail

Troughs at Navajo Spring
As the trail ascends along a ridge above a drainage, the woodlands get thicker and the chipping squirrels more profuse before it enters a clearing where wire fencing protects aspen seedings from marauding wildlife. Here, just downhill from a prolific spring area, reliable moisture fosters a bevy of wildflowers. Fields of wild bergamot, Mexican silene, wild geranium and red cinquefoil bloom bright in a boot-brushing color mania. Beyond the aspens, a conga line of concrete water troughs arc around the green pastures of Navajo Spring.
Aspen regeneration area near Navajo Spring
This is a good turn around spot for an easy day hike, however, for those who want a longer trek, the Arizona Trail and the MLL system are just yards away. Mormon Lake Lodge offers a free trails map for resort guests (also posted here). The map, which  was created by David Babcock, Arizona Trail Association Webmaster/trail steward and Larry Snead, Mormon Lake Lodge Environmental Programs Manager (and former AZT Executive Director), shows the layout of roughly 13 miles of linking routes.
View of Mormon Mountain from the road to the lodge

Golden-mantled ground squirrel on the Navajo Spring Trail
Here's one loop to try: Follow Navajo Springs Trail 1.1 mile to the AZT junction, turn right (north) and continue 1.6 miles to Forest Road 90N (not signed, but it's the first big road intersection). Head right (north east) on FR90N and hike 0.4 mile to the Fakowie Trail (Forest Road 90J), turn right and hike 1.7 miles back to the trailhead following the "lodge" directional signs.
LENGTH: 2.2 mile up-and-back or 4.8-mile loop
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 6,880' - 7,550'
From the State Routes 87/260 junction in Payson, continue 37 miles north on SR 87 to Lake Mary Road (County Road 3) located just past the village of Clint's Well. Turn left, go 27 miles on CR3, turn left onto Mormon Lake Road ( Forest Road 90) and drive 2 miles to Mormon Lake Lodge. Park in the dirt lot behind the reservation office and horse corral. Hike begins at the Environmental Education Center across the road between the pizzeria and the "National Bank".
INFO: Arizona Trail Association
Mormon Lake Lodge


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