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Thursday, September 24, 2015


Abineau-Bear Jaw Trail
Here in Arizona, fall color season runs from late September through December. Autumn leaf-peeping begins in the high elevations of Flagstaff, the White Mountains and sky islands like the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson and Mount Graham near Safford. Above 8,000', you'll find mostly aspens---the quintessential mountain tree. The season trickles down to the Mogollon Rim, Prescott, Payson and Sedona, usually peaking in late October through early November. Look for electric red maples, golden oaks, ash, alders and hoptrees.  Finally, desert trees like cottonwood, sycamores and willows turn tawny toward the end of November. Here are some perfect hiking trails for fall color. Find trails descriptions and directions by scrolling to the  TRAIL INDEX on this blog. You can also click on "fall color" to read about 165 hikes for autumn splendor:
Abineau-BearJaw, Flagstaff
Inner Basin, Flagstaff
Veit Springs, Flagstaff
Wilson Meadow, Flagstaff
Pole Knoll, Greer
West Baldy, Greer
Icehouse Canyon, Globe
Marshall Gulch, Tucson
Ash Creek, Safford
Barbershop Trail, Mogollon Rim
Rim Lakes Vista, Mogollon Rim
West Fork of Oak Creek, Sedona
Red Rock State Park, Sedona
Huckaby Trail, Sedona
Baldwin Trail, Sedona
Hackberry Spring, Superstition Mountains
Jewel of the Creek, Spur Cross Ranch
New River Nature Reserve, New River
Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Globe
National Forest Service (AZ is in Region 3)
Flagstaff-Sedona Updates
Flagstaff Leaf-O-Meter:

Monday, September 21, 2015


Bulldog Canyon Trailhead to Pass Mountain Trail
Granite outcroppings on Maricopa Trail

Loop trails are fantastic inventions. Hiking on one feels sort of like a following a cinematographer filming a visually-rich sequence that ends where it began. Arizona has some impressive hiking hoops. Revered for their flowing, long lengths and community-unifying qualities, projects like the Flagstaff Loop Trail (42 miles), Prescott Circle Trail (54.4 miles) and the grand dame of them all--Maricopa Trail-- act as the glue for regional, non-motorized recreation systems. When complete (target 2017), the Maricopa Trail will form a 310-mile loop around Greater Phoenix, connecting parks, suburbia and surrounding cities. The thrill of trekking on fresh dirt is rekindled each time a new segment drifts into pristine tracts or provides an alternate path to familiar hiking haunts. With the recent opening of a 1.4-mile section in the East Valley, there's now another way to approach the popular Pass Mountain (PM) Trail. Previously, access to PM was only though Usery Mountain Regional Park or a lot off Meridian Road in Mesa. This new western approach from Bulldog Canyon Trailhead will eventually tie in with a yet-to-be-constructed corridor to the Granite Reef recreation area near the Salt River. Volunteers are needed to complete the work and you can sign up to be part of this historic effort by visiting the Maricopa Trail + Park Foundation website:
The "Bulldog" segment makes an easy, 300-foot ascent to the junction with 7.5-mile PM Trail (not signed). Roughly 5.6 miles of the PM loop trail is on the Tonto National Forest and there's no fee to hike on this scenic section. However, if you cross into the part of the trail that's in Usery Mountain Park, be prepared to pay the $2 per person fee (exact change required). You can avoid the fee by heading left at the junction. From here, its just under 2 miles to the saddle overlooking a valley straddling the desert space between the Superstition and Goldfield Mountains. This makes for a good turn around point for those left their wallets at home or are not up to the 10.3-mile circuit.
LENGTH: 1.4 miles one way (trailhead to PM)
or 10.3 miles roundtrip with Pass Mountain Loop
RATING: easy-difficult
ELEVATION: 2,010'- 2,340' (2,740' with PM)
FEE: $2 per person if you enter the park on foot. Exact change required.
From Phoenix, go east on US60 to the Ellsworth Road exit. Go north 8.2 miles north on Ellsworth (turns into Usery Pass Rd.) to the trailhead corral on the right past milepost 22 which is 1.6 miles north of the Usery Mountain Park entrance.
Maricopa Trail:
Maricopa Trail + Park Foundation: