|Cliffrose Trailhead in Cottonwood|
Friday, January 30, 2015
In what might be described as the "tip of the iceberg", the Cliffrose trailhead in Cottonwood represents the ongoing efforts of the Verde Valley Regional Trails Concept Plan. This grassroots effort to enhance and maintain the area's multi-use trail systems draws upon the expertise of residents from towns of Jerome and Camp Verde, and staff from the Prescott National Forest, Coconino National Forest, State Parks, City of Sedona, City of Cottonwood, Town of Clarkdale, and Yavapai County.
Together these groups are working to foster a long-range vision for Verde Valley trails and open spaces for the development of interconnected recreational travel systems.
The compact, no-frills Cliffrose trailhead sits near the Verde Valley Botanical Area and provides access to the Lime KilnTrail which in turn provides an established 15-mile travel corridor between Cottonwood and Sedona. At this writing (Jan. 2015), the trails here are unsigned but well defined. A dirt road heading east from the trailhead curves north to meet Lime Kiln in roughly 2 miles while a web of loop trails heading west trace a starkly beautiful landscape of ravines and cave riddled, jagged-edged limestone outcroppings. Beyond the chalk white sediments and high-desert scrub, sweeping vistas of Sedona's angular, vivid, rusty hued sandstone mesas and spires contrast with the hushed tones and rounded slopes of the Bradshaw Mountains. Finding your way around the roughly 3 miles of nicely maintained trails is easy. Just use the lay of the land as a natural compass. The red rocks of Sedona are in the northeast, Cottonwood and Jerome on the western frontier and the hum of Cornville Road to the south provide all the navigation tools you'll need.
LENGTH: variable, our GPS track of the loops read 3 miles
ELEVATION: 3,089' – 3,353'
From Phoenix, go north on Interstate 17 to the McGuireville exit 293 and go 12.4 miles west on Cornville Road (a.k.a. CR30, Mingus Ave.) to State Route 89A. From here, cross 89A ,continue less than a mile and turn right at the Cliffrose Trail sign.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
JAIL TRAIL RIVER WALK
A trip to Old Town Cottonwood just isn't complete without a stroll under the "Gateway to the Verde River" archway that leads to a hike along the Jail Trail. Debarking from the site of a rustic old jail building, which is now home to a quaint tea house, the mile long, easy trail follows the banks of the river through River Front Park and on to Dead Horse Ranch State Park. The trail is shaded by thick tangles of willows and enormous cottonwood trees towering over the running water, cattail ringed coves and rock strewn flood plains. With reliable water and ample nesting spots, this riparian corridor is a productive birding location with hundreds of resident, seasonal and migratory species gracing the property. The hike can be enjoyed year-round as it cycles through the seasons. During the leafless winter months, the riparian corridor is as enchanting as ever with the benefit of bare branches giving clear views of roosting raptors and flocks of red-winged blackbirds. Springtime brings a flurry of chartreuse leaf shoots and fluffy catkins that mature into emerald canopies of cooling shade that last through summer. The balmy days and cool nights of late October turn the leaves into a spectacle of gold and russet. So whether you're visiting Cottonwood for a day of wine tasting, antique shopping or a scenic drive, a walk along the Verde River is de rigueur and the Jail Trail is the easiest path to the water.
LENGTH: 1 mile one-way
ELEVATION: 3300' - 3290'
GETTING THERE:From Phoenix, travel north on Interstate 17 to the Camp Verde exit 287. Head 10 miles east on State Route 260 toward Cottonwood and Jerome. When SR260 intersects with Main St./State Rt. 89A/Historic 89A, take a left. When State Rt. 89A separates at the light, stay on Main St./Historic 89A to get to Old Town. Continue through Old Town to where the road makes a sharp left turn just past Yavapai Street. Look for the “Gateway to the Verde River” archway and park in the lot on the right at 1101 N. Main Street.
INFO: Sedona Verde Valley Tourism Council
Monday, January 26, 2015
LIME KILN-BILL ENSIGN TRAILS
The Lime Kiln Trail is a reclaimed wagon road that was originally used from the 1890s thru the early 1900s to transport building materials and market goods between Cottonwood and Sedona. Today, the 15-mile-long route serves as a recreational trail for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers anchored by Dead Horse Ranch State park in the west and and Red Rock State Park in the east. Named for a kiln built in the 1880s to produce mortar for the construction of several homes in Cottonwood area, the trail wanders through a landscape of limestone-layered rock formations dotted with Crucifixion thorn, juniper and beavertail cacti with impressive views of the mining town of Jerome, Mingus and Woodchute Mountains and Sedona's House Mountain volcano. Multiple access points and connecting trails provide dozens of day hike and backpack options. One to try is an out-and-back circuit using the Lime Kiln and Bill Ensign trails. Beginning from the Lagoon trailhead at DHRSP, this trip passes by the kiln site where interested hikers can take a short spur trail to the crumbling remains. At the 1.7-mile point, turn right at the Bill Ensign junction and hike 1.5 miles through high desert terrain skirting the boundary of the Verde Valley Botanical Area--a preserve established to protect the endangered Arizona Cliffrose. The trail culminates at a high point overlooking a riparian corridor of willows and cottonwoods along the Verde River.
LENGTH: 7.5 miles (as described here)
ELEVATION: 3,300' – 3,590'
FEE: $7 daily fee per vehicle
FACILITIES: restrooms, camp sites, cabins, picnic ramadas, fishing
Dead Horse Ranch State Park
From Interstate 17 go north to State Route 260 exit 287 and head west toward Cottonwood. Continue 11 miles to Main Street in Cottonwood (Hwy 89A) and turn left. Continue through Cottonwood on Main Street, turn right on 10th Street and follow the signs to the park.
Lime Kiln-Bill Ensign: