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Monday, April 16, 2018


First glimpses of Sedona on the way up to Crystal Point
Cut into a gentle ridgeline where the red rock marvels of Sedona melt into Flagstaff’s tall pines and mountainous terrain, Crystal Point Trail provides a taste of both worlds.
Franciscan Bells decorate the trail
The trail has been adopted by the Munds Park Trail Stewards (MUTS), an organization that maintains recreational routes around the community.  Thanks to volunteer workers who perform regular maintenance, the trail is neatly brushed, signed and switchback-mitigated.  The non-motorized path makes an easy climb through pine-oak woodlands, meadows and edges bolstered by lichen-encrusted boulders.  Even in dry years, high-country wildflowers like brilliant blue Franciscan Bells add pops of color in sunny spots along the way. The trail’s appeal is rooted in its birds-eye glimpses of Sedona that begin to appear through the trees about a half-mile into the hike. 
Summit ammo boxes hold trail log books for hiker notes
Views of rusty escarpments layered with white limestone that stand above the green valleys of the Verde River watershed gain in scope as the route makes its way to Crystal Point.  
Views of Sedona from Crystal Point
The trail tops out on a knoll at the 1.3-mile point where a picnic table with ammo boxes full of hiker logs invites visitors to stay awhile, enjoy the sights and peruse the inspiring—sometimes weird—comments scrawled in dog-eared notebooks.  While some hikers are satisfied to call this the turnaround point, it’s not the end of the trail.  The journey may be extended by continuing down the ridge toward Odell Lake. 
Munds Park Trail Stewards maintain the route
This 2.5-mile segment descends on lazy bends offering even better views than those seen on the summit. 
Wood betony
Once off the hill, the trail follows a wide ravine to the lake. A dry winter has not been kind to Odell Lake. The shallow reservoir has shrunk to a collection of muddy pools. Still, the area near the water teams with birds and waterfowl.  The path ends at a gate in a residential area at the end of Golden Lake Trail.  
Oak buds

View from the switchbacks
Although it might be tempting to explore around the lake, much of the land is private property, so be respectful.
From trail’s end, you could make a loop by hiking 1.3 miles on paved streets back to the trailhead, but it’s not very interesting.  Instead, head back the way you came for a rewind viewing of a pleasant show. 
LENGTH:  3.3 miles one way
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION:  6480 - 7190 feet
From Interstate 17, take the Munds Park exit #322 and continue 2 miles east on Pinewood Blvd (Forest Road 240) to the parking area on the left.  Trail begins across the road. Roads are paved with a short section of maintained dirt that's fine for all vehicles.

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