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Arizona Hiking by Mare - 2d ago
BAKER BUTTE
Lilacs frame Baker Butte fire tower on the Mogollon Rim
A hike up to Baker Butte culminates at an idyllic, pine-shaded pinnacle. Swarms of hummingbirds whip through lilac-scented air and masses of ladybugs cling to trees, shrubs and knee-high wildflowers.
Fire lookout Shirley Payne and her horse Rameses.
Nearby, a horse chomps hay in a makeshift corral while a friendly black Labrador retriever noses a tennis ball. Perched on a knoll at the edge of the Mogollon Rim, the mood surrounding the Baker Butte fire tower is as calm and pastoral as a romantic passage in a Victorian novel.
Pine thermoses (golden pea) bloom April - July
But this enviable life removed from city heat, traffic and noise belies a very serious purpose.
“Are you coming up?” The voice of fire lookout Shirley Payne broke the silence as she called down to me and my hiking partner from the catwalk of the 30-foot-high tower. “Oh, yeah,” was my no-brainer answer.  Payne, who has worked in the tower for 23 years, welcomed us with a plate of fresh-baked a poppy seed muffins.
Payne's dog Jeffrey takes a break near the corral.
The tower is located near the western edge of Rim Road (Forest Road 300)--a 51-mile dirt route that runs between State Route 87 south of Clints Well to State Route 260 near Forest Lakes. Rim Road makes for an iconic scenic drive for anybody with a high-clearance vehicle and the fortitude to endure some queasy, edge-hugging sections. Of the many Coconino National Forest fire lookout towers that dot the Rim, Baker Butte is one of the easiest to reach on foot. For a moderate 3-miler, park at Baker Lake (usually not more than a soggy bog) at the junction of FR 300 and SR 87 and hike 1.2 miles on FR 300 to Forest Road 300B (the road to the lookout) where there’s a parking area for the General Crook Trail, then continue 0.4-mile uphill to the summit. The summit road passes through archways of Gambel oak trees, pines and Douglas firs. Fringed with ferns, raspberry brambles and colorful spreads of Canada violets, Pine thermopsis, sandwort and wild strawberries, the road twists uphill in long loops landing at the base of the fire tower.
Views from tower catwalk stretch from Flagstaff to Tucson
The tower, which earned a spot on the National Historic Lookout Register in 2006, wears its heritage well. Constructed with a not-so-subtle blend of original, repurposed and new building materials, the practical yet homey loft is softened by Payne’s collection of quilts, plants and mementos.  Neatly arranged instruments, radios, binoculars and maps speak to the intense, sometimes harrowing, work of fire spotting and coordination of incident response teams—the daily grind of a fire lookout.
Thick tree cover on the summit road hike.
The long-gone original tower cabin that was built in 1921 was replaced in 1937 with the present 12’ x 12’ model that’s perched on a metal skeleton with wooden stairs. The catwalk was added in 2009 and various upgrades to walls and windows surround a floor covered in speckled, cracked linoleum that smacks of mid-century utilitarianism.
Copies of Payne’s book, Baker Butte Journal 2010, sit near the guest register. Well worth its $20 sale price, the photo-rich volume presents a slice-of-life account of a season in the tower. Packed with play-by-play descriptions of wildfire response, turbulent mountain weather, recipes and the misadventures of “cidiots” (visitors from cities with irresponsible forest habits) who litter, cause damage, raise hell and sometimes need rescuing.  A stroll around the catwalk reveals see-forever vistas. On most days, the peaks of Flagstaff, Williams and the White Mountains can be seen with the naked eye standing over seas of Ponderosa pines. On the best days, Picacho Peak and Mount Lemmon in Tucson show their silhouettes 200 miles to the south. 
Jeffrey is always ready for a game of fetch
Payne offers fresh-baked muffins to tower visitors.
Below the tower, a tiny cabin serves as Payne’s home for six months (usually May – October) each year. Draped in lilac bushes that were planted in the 1980s, the ad hoc abode has been expanded, adapted and upgraded over decades of use.
Hummingbirds gather at feeders placed around the tower
Tools of a fire lookout's trade.
The sunny kitchen was salvaged from a Depression Era Civilian Conservation Corps camp at Mormon Lake and repurposed into a compact, fully-equipped work space (with hot and cold running water to boot) where Payne cooks up her culinary specialties like the yummy muffins she serves visitors.  Some of her recipes use wildflowers and berries harvested from the forest.
Payne's book describes her experiences working in the tower
Outside, an array of hummingbird feeders attract several species including the Broad-tailed, Rufous and Magnificent. During summer, flocks of the glinting little birds can drain a feeder in just hours, which keeps Payne busy with refill runs up to three times a day. In addition to the elk, chipmunks, turkeys, western tanagers and deer that hang out around the tower, Payne keeps two special four-legged helpers at her mountain top work environment. Rameses, a 21-year-old Missouri Fox Trotter--a gaited breed (horses with a sure-footed, rhythmic stride) who loves mint candy treats, and Jeffrey, a friendly  3-year-old black lab with a fetch fetish and boundless energy provide companionship and assistance. 
Raspberry brambles produce fruit in late summer
During fire season, the Baker Butte tower is open to the public between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. when Payne is on duty and closed for lunch between noon and 1 p.m.
The cabin kitchen was salvaged from a CCC camp
Canada violets bloom April - September
As Arizona heads into another fire season, forest visitors should respect fire restrictions and safety protocols. The last thing any fire lookout wants to see is a plume of smoke drifting skyward from a human-caused blaze.  When visiting a fire tower, please observe proper etiquette.

• Respect visiting hours. Do not attempt to enter a tower when no lookout is present.
• Wait to be invited. Lookouts may not allow visitors when monitoring an active fire incident.
FR 300B begins across from a General Crook trailhead
• Lighten up. Leave bulky packs and trekking poles behind. Tower stairs are narrow and space is tight inside.
• Ask permission before taking photos or approaching companion animals.
• Listen up. Follow the lookout’s instructions and don’t touch instruments. 
• Learn something. Ask questions. Most lookouts are veritable founts of knowledge about the forests they watch over.
Begin at Baker Lake (bog) for a 3-mile hike to the tower.

LENGTH:  3 miles roundtrip from Baker Lake or 0.8 mile roundtrip from the General Crook trailhead.
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION:  7430 - 8074 feet from Baker Lake or 7866 – 8074 from General Crook trailhead.
GETTING THERE:
From the State Route 87/260 junction in Payson, go 28 miles north on SR 87 to Forest Road 300 (Rim Road) located just past milepost 281.
Option 1: Park in the dirt turnouts on Rim Road near Baker Lake just a few yards in from SR 87.
Option 2: Follow FR 300 (make a sharp left at a Y junction at  0.1-mile)  1.2 miles to the Baker Butte Summit Road (FR 300B). There’s parking directly across from the summit road in the General Crook trailhead. Forest Road 300 is bumpy dirt but passable by passenger cars.
INFO:
Fire Management Coconino National Forest
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WALNUT CANYON RIM
Vista point on Passage 31 of the Arizona Trail
Arizona Trail Passage 31 runs for 17.9 miles between Marshall Lake and Interstate 40 southeast of Flagstaff.  Because it’s one of the shorter of the 43 passages that make up the 800-mile, state-traversing route, strong hikers can complete it in a day. Blasting through the entire section in a day makes for an epic trek, but numerous access points along the route provide ways to create abbreviated hikes that sample some of the most gorgeous slices of this high-country path.
Arizona valerian grow on moist slopes
The hike traces the rim of Walnut Canyon in Flagstaff
One to try begins at dirt parking apron along Old Walnut Canyon Road.
The moderate trek in Coconino National Forest links wildflower meadows, pine-oak woodlands, a dip into a tapered canyon and amazing vista points overlooking Walnut Canyon National Monument-- a 3600-acre site that protects archeological and natural resources--for a varied, moderate hike. 
The trek begins on a wide, flat path that weaves among pine groves and meadows with glimpses of antenna-cluttered Mount Elden (9298’) to the north.  
Thick forests where the trail dips into a tampered canyon
The rich soil and sun exposure foster acres of colorful wildflowers like stemless daisies, lupine and paintbrush.
At the 0.4-mile point, turn right at the Campbell Mesa Trails sign and continue on a mild uphill path. Just beyond a wildlife water hole, the trail meets a set of switchbacks carved from limestone escarpments that mitigate a descent along the canyon walls.  Hanging close to the edge, the slim trail passes among rock overhangs and clusters of yucca that cling precariously to cracks in the stony substrate. As the trail dives deeper into the canyon, enormous “yellow bellies” (mature Ponderosa pines that have developed a scaly, yellowish-brown bark) filter sunlight while rangy snags (dead, standing trees) attract insect-seeking birds and nesting critters. While passing through this enchanted forest, be sure to stop and smell the yellow bellies. 
A lupine about to bloom on the Arizona Trail
Their sap has an aroma that’s been described as butterscotch, vanilla and cherry. (My personal take on this fragrance is a top note sugared cedar, a heart of moss and a base note of patchouli.)   In moist areas under the trees, look for tiny pink Arizona valerian flowers.  The tubular clusters can be seen poking out from blankets of pine needles through early summer.
Brilliant paintbrush are common bloomers along the AZT
Several spur paths lead to scenic points above Walnut Cny.
The short canyon section ends with a climb back up to the rim where the first vista point junction appears at 2.2-miles. To visit the scenic ledge, head left and hike the 0.2-mile spur to a promontory at the western edge of the national monument. Here, a fringe of conifers frame views of a heavily-forested bend in the meandering canyon. It’s a 300-foot drop from the breezy rim to the canyon floor with no guardrails to stymie a stumble.
Stemless daisies bloom in sunny meadows
So, explore carefully before retracing your steps back to the junction and continuing 1.1 mile on to the next vista detour where a 0.6-mile spur leads to more big sky panoramas and impressive canyon views. 
A pine shaded meadow along the route.
If you’re up for more, there are two more vista points before the trail moves off the rim.
Switchbacks mitigate a descent into the canyon
A wildlife water hole on the Arizona Trail
One is located another 1.1 miles down the trail while Fisher Point, the most famous of them all, marks the end of the tour 6.4 miles from the trailhead.
Stop and smell the yellow bellies
Yucca sprout from the craggy canyon walls
Limestone slabs and overhangs line the route
The trail hugs the canyon edge
LENGTH:
To the first vista point and back: 4.8 miles
To the second vista point and back: 7.8 miles
To Fisher Point and back: 12.8 miles
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION:   (to second vista point, 7033 to Fisher Point)
GETTING THERE:
From the Interstate 17/40 junction in Flagstaff, go 5.4 miles east on I 40 to exit 201 (Country Club Road). Turn right and  go 0.9-mile south to Old Walnut Canyon Road (Forest Road 303, turn left and continue 2.7 miles to the parking area on the right.
Snags (dead, standing trees) attract wildlife
The hike begins at the small Arizona Trail sign on the south side of the road. The last 0.3-mile is on rough dirt best suited for high-clearance vehicles.
INFO: Arizona Trail Association

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Kendrick Park Watchable Wildlife Trail
Kendrick Peak seen from Kendrick Park
To young children, traveling the stretch of U.S. 180 that runs between Flagstaff and the south rim of the Grand Canyon can feel like being trapped in a careening container with few sights that appeal to kiddie sensibilities.
A  Ponderosa pine tree provides cover for wildlife viewing
Electronic devise-enabled distractions only last so long before cries of ‘are we there yet’ and ‘I have to go potty’ demand a break from the drive that flows between pine forests and the desert plains of the Colorado Plateau. 
Aspen regeneration project along the outer loop.
The fix is a stop at Kendrick Park Watchable Wildlife Trail.  Complete with walking paths and a restroom, the site that sits on 2000 acres roughly 20 miles north of Flagstaff offers a chance to stretch legs, decompress and maybe learn a thing or two.   The U.S. Forest Service property has two short loop trails that explore biologically diverse spaces in alpine meadows, pine woodlands and aspen glens with excellent views of the San Francisco Peaks (12,633 feet) and Kendrick Peak (10,418 feet).  The quarter-mile short loop is paved and suitable for strollers and wheelchairs while the 1.2-mile outer loop follows a flat dirt trail. 
The San Francisco Peaks soar to 12,633 feet.

Many teaching moments punctuate the hike.
Both paths are outfitted with interpretive signs that describe fascinating facts about the area’s plants, animals and history. 
Two easy loop trails explore the property.
The compact system is packed with points of interest. An abandoned potato field, corral and campsite document some of the surprising ways people have used the land in the past.  Along the outer loop, an aspen recovery area at the edge of sprawling grasslands and signs that explain how wildfires have impacted the landscape illustrate the complex forces that continually shape the delicate ecosystems.  Of course, the big draw here is the opportunity for real-time wildlife viewing.  To optimize your chances of seeing animals wandering in their natural habitats, experienced viewers recommend the following tips.
Fremont barberry grows along the trails.
The outer loop passes through a beautiful aspen grove.
The family-friendly 0.24-mile short loop is barrier-free.
Signs invite visitors to immerse in the experience.
Interesting relics at an abandoned camp site.
• Plan your timing. Wildlife is most active at dawn and dusk.
• Be invisible. Stay quiet, wear neutral colors and avoid using scented products like perfume, lotion and strong laundry additives.
• Be patient.  Sit quietly behind a tree or rock and wait for animals to appear.
• Observe from a distance. Keep wildlife wild by giving them their space. Never harass, feed, or handle wildlife.
When explored quietly and with respect, the trails at Kendrick Park extend a rest stop into an entertaining, educational tour of a northern Arizona wildlife stomping ground with tantalizing backstories and myriad mini lessons built in.
LENGTH: 1.5 miles for two loop trails
RATING: easy, the short loop (.25-mile) is barrier-free
ELEVATION: 7862 - 7915 feet
GETTING THERE:
From Flagstaff, go 20 miles north on U.S 180 to the trailhead located between mileposts 235 and 236 on the west side of the road.
There is a restroom at the trailhead.
INFO:
Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience:
Coconino National Forest:
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Arizona Hiking by Mare - 1M ago
Cedar Mesa, Tonto National Forest.
Mogollon Rim seen from Forest Road 322
Cedar Mesa is the kind of place you just don’t stumble upon. The desolate, flattop spread resides at the end of a ridiculously undulating road at the base of the Mogollon Rim south of the community of Pine.  
Gate on Cedar Mesa
It takes effort to get to it but the payoff is a pleasant, uncrowded diversion from the old standard hikes in the area.
Milk Ranch Point, a prominent nose on the Mogollon Rim
The hike follows Forest Road 322 that begins at a dirt pullout along heavily-travelled Control Road (Forest Road 64) near where numerous trailheads and cliff-climbing routes provide connectivity with major travel corridors.
Hikers walk the rough road to Cedar Mesa
The road is an easy snare for curious hikers wondering where the heck it goes. Open to both motorized and foot travel alike, the rough dirt two-track in Tonto National Forest reveals its colors immediately with a steep ascent to a crest where visitors are treated to the first set of magnificent views and a welcome breath-catching moment.
The hike’s ubiquitous landform is the imposing rock jetty of Milk Ranch Point, that towers to over 7400 feet. Patches of vivid green foliage clinging to its escarpments expose the locations of Red Rock and Pine springs that serve as reliable water sources along Highline Trail which is part of the state-traversing Arizona Trail. From here, the climb continues on a milder slope, gradually exposing bigger and better vistas of the Mogollon Rim--a wall of uplifted rock that spans roughly 200 miles from New Mexico to the Sedona area.
Follow the fence line on Cedar Mesa to extend the hike
Although the difference between the hike’s high and low points is only 358 feet, the out-and-back route’s constant ups-and-downs adds up to more than 1000 feet of elevation change. As the road moves southeast through forests of cypress, pinion pine and a fringe of manzanita, the peaks of the Mazatzal Mountains appear as hazy purple mounds on the western horizon.
A baby horned lizards blends in with the local rocks.
At the 1.2-mile point, the route heads left at a 3-way junction where the road narrows as it descends through a rocky corridor fringed with scrub oak, Alligator junipers and a smattering of Ponderosa pines.
Mazatzal Mountains on the horizon
This is where the first good glimpses of the destination come into view---a low slung mesa fleeced in conifers with three quad-burning dips-and-climbs in between. From here, the Payson airport, a brush pit and the chiseled watershed of the East Verde River and its tributaries are visible to the south. Once over the last major hump, the trail emerges on Cedar Mesa proper, encountering a gate at the 2.6-mile point.
Hikers contemplate the undulating route.


The hike features beautiful Rim Country views
 Although the road disappears beyond the fence, it’s possible to extend the hike by exploring on the irregular-shaped mesa that’s just over a mile across.  Vegetation on the sparse, breezy plateau is a homogeneous labyrinth of junipers, so a good sense of direction or GPS skills are essential to avoid getting lost. An easy way to wander and stay found is to follow the barbed wire fence line that encloses the summit for more spectacular Rim views from a seldom-visited, hard-won platform.
The route has many ups and downs.
LENGTH:  5.2 miles roundtrip
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 5495 – 5853 feet (1183’of accumulated elevation change)
GETTING THERE:
From the junction of State Routes 87/260 in Payson, go 12 miles north on SR 87 to milepost 265 (2 miles north of Tonto Natural Bridge State Park), turn right on Control Road (Forest Road 64) and continue 0.8-mile to the parking pull out at Forest Road 322.   


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Arizona Hiking by Mare - 1M ago
Cibola Pass-Jordan Trail Loop
A juniper-framed view on Cibola Pass Trail
As implausible as it may seem, some people driving through Sedona are in a hurry.
Mitten Ridge formations seen from Cibola Pass Trail.
It happens, though, but it’s no excuse to forfeit a hike in order to beat the traffic or catch a flight.  Many of Sedona’s trails offer drive-up-and-hike convenience and clever connectivity that accommodates those who have only a couple of hours to indulge in a picture-perfect jaunt.  Take, for instance, the Cibola Pass-Jordan Loop.
Sugarloaf and Chimney Rock seen from Jordan Trail.
When hiked from the Jim Thompson trailhead that’s located just a short drive from Uptown Sedona, this heavenly trek that slices through forests at the southern edge of the Red Rock Secret Canyon Wilderness, gets you in-and-out of the good stuff pronto.  
Huge agaves grow along the route.
As the average hiker moves at about 2-3 miles per hour, it’s possible to whip through this 2.2-mile circuit in just over an hour—provided you can limit ogling and photo stops. The hike scrimps on length but splurges on scenery and workout value.  From the parking area, start hiking at the Cibola Pass post near the fee pay station. Continue a few yards to a three-way junction and continue straight ahead on the Cibola Pass trail. Hiking the loop in this direction gets the steep climbing out of the way within the first half-mile.
A shady spot on the Jordan Trail
The abrupt but not-too-difficult climb is a mashup of switchbacks and flat rest areas overlooking the deep cuts of Mormon Canyon and layers of sheer wilderness mesas.  The signature feature along this section is the hand-shaped, russet stone tower that caps Mitten Ridge.
A scenic point on the Jordan Trail
The route makes a brief passage though the wilderness area on slickrock slopes with stunning juniper-framed views before dipping into a shady drainage.  At the 0.7-mile point, the circuit meets the Jordan Trail junction.
A slick rock passage on the Jordan Trail
Time permitting, take an optional 0.6-mile roundtrip venture, by heading right to see Devil’s Kitchen—an impressive sandstone sinkhole.  To stick with the quick-trip plan, go left at the junction and make a swift ramble on the Jordan Trail through a 1.5-mile pocket of fragrant cypress, giant agaves and oak-fringed bluffs. You’ll be back at the trailhead in a flash with dusty boots and time to spare.
Goodding's Verbena blooms April through September.

LENGTH: 2.2 miles
RATING:  moderate
ELEVATION:  4520 – 4682 feet
GETTING THERE:
Jim Thompson Trailhead:
From the State Route 179/89A traffic circle in Sedona, go right onto 89A and continue 0.3-mile to Jordan Road on the left. Go 0.8 mile on Jordan Road, turn left onto Park Ridge Dr. and continue 0.5-mile to the trailhead on the right. The last half mile is on a gravel road with potholes but is suitable for all carefully driven vehicles. A $5 Red Rock Pass is required.  There is a restroom and a pay station at the trailhead.
INFO:  Coconino National Forest
Red Rock Pass Information:
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Arizona Hiking by Mare - 1M ago
Mount Union: Prescott National Forest
A hiker takes a break on the summit of Mount Union.
Where as the joy of reaching a mountain summit usually comes with a wham-pow jolt of accomplishment, gaining the high point of the Bradshaw Mountains in Yavapai County kind of creeps up on you instead. 
Snow on the Dandrea Trail No. 285, 3-30-2019.
The hiking trails that lead to the 7979-foot pinnacle of Mount Union are neither technical nor precipitous.
The fire lookout on Mt. Union was built in 1933
Unlike other Arizona peaks, there are no false summits, no cliff-dangling passages and no obvious risks to life and limb. Regardless of its lack of adrenaline rushes, the straightforward route is not without its challenges.
Big views on the Yankee Doodle Trail No. 284
It’s only a two-mile hike to the top, but working through the rough, rocky course is an exercise in balance and tenacity. It’s a real ankle-twister, so sturdy footwear and hiking poles are essential. Located southeast of Prescott near the mountain community of Potato Patch, the Dandrea Trail No. 285 and the Yankee Doodle Trail No. 284 combine for a short but tricky route to the peak. The trails are signed only by their numbers, not their colorful monikers which, along with nearby landform names, were assigned by miners working for competing factions during the Civil War.  
The bare bones trailhead straddles a drainage where the headwaters of the Hassayampa River—spilling from the spring-laden slopes between Mount Davis (named for President of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis) and Mount Union-- begin to gain momentum.  Hop the chugging stream and head toward the “285” sign, which marks the first leg of the circuit. Trail No. 285 is an old mining road that was built long before the concept of sustainability gained traction and thus has not held up well. Thrashed by the forces of nature, the road has devolved into a quagmire of loose rock and debris. Sometimes paralleling the Hassayampa drainage, sometimes swamped by its overflow, trail conditions vacillate between poor and treacherous. But, picking your way though is part of the adventure. Also, several unmarked spur paths that spin off the main road can be confusing. To stay on track, always head right at these junctions. 
The summit road was snow-covered on 3-30-2019.
 
View from a high section of the Dandrea Trail
Between keeping an eye to the ground to avoid falls, be sure to take time to appreciate the thick coniferous forest that surrounds the trail. The canyon-bound lower mile of the route is wrapped in thick, moss-draped woodlands dominated by Douglas and white firs plus spotty stands of aspens struggling to find the sunlight they need to survive. 
A typical scene on the rocky Dandrea Trail
As the trail gains elevation, airy stands of Alligator junipers and Gamble oaks take over, opening up views of distant Granite Mountain.
Big Bug Mesa (mid field right) seen from Trail No. 284
At the 1.2-mile point, the route emerges from the forested canyon at a gate and 4-way junction on the saddle between the two mountains. Here, Trail 285 continues 1.6 miles downhill to the abandoned Dandrea Ranch site--a pretty side trip if you’re so inclined. But if your eyes are on the summit prize, head right (southwest) and follow the Yankee Doodle Trail No. 284.  Although still rocky, this 0.6-mile leg is much less hazardous and more exposed than the canyon segment.  Climbing through an oak-fringed corridor, Trail 284 features peeks of the fire lookout and communication towers on the summit and grand mountain vistas.  To the east, the long form of Big Bug Mesa stands out among minor ridgelines and pine-covered foothills. Where the trail meets the dirt summit road, head left (remember this spot because it’s easy to miss on the way back) and make the final 0.2-mile slog to the top.   
Trail 285 climbs through the headwaters of the Hassayampa
A fire lookout that was built by Civilian Conservation Corps workers in 1933 stands 30 feet above the bald, boulder-cluttered apex.
The saddle junction
At its base, the names of CCC workers etched into a cement slab add a note history and humanity to the creaky metal structure and its companion cabin.  The tower is still in active service and is occupied during fire season.  
View from the summit of Mount Union
A walk around the tiny peak reveals 360-degree vistas that validate this mountain as the standard-bearer of the Bradshaws while demonstrating that a summit trek doesn’t have to be the hardest, highest or most inaccessible to deliver a rewarding experience.
Douglas fir trees dominate the canyon segment of the hike
Mount Union is high point of the Bradshaw Mountains
Trailhead at the edge of the Potato Patch community.
LENGTH: 4 miles roundtrip
RATING: difficult
ELEVATION: 6849 – 7979 feet
GETTING THERE:
From State Route 69 in Prescott, turn south on Walker Road (intersection with the stoplight near the Costco center) and continue 10.5 miles to the “T” intersection at Poacher’s Row that’s marked by sign for the Potato Patch community. Turn left and continue 0.7 miles to where the road ends at the 285 trailhead. There’s parking for about two vehicles at the trailhead and there are additional spaces along the road, but be respectful of the private property in the area and do not block driveways. 
Summit marker dated 1919--100 years old!
High-clearance vehicles are recommended as the last few miles of the access roads are on rough dirt with potholes. There are no fees or facilities at the trailhead.
INFO: Prescott National Forest

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Fossil Creek Wild & Scenic River Draft CRMP and DEIS ~ 125-day Comment Period: 
A Summary of the Alternatives
Dec. 1, 2018 – April 4, 2019
Hikers, paddlers, campers---ALL outdoor enthusiasts with in interest in how recreation in Fossil Creek will be managed should check out the resource links below and WEIGH IN. The public comment period ends April 4, 2019.  You MUST comment before the deadline to be eligible to participate any post-decision discussion or lodge objections.
To Participate in a Public Meeting and to Comment:
Comment Period: A 125-day comment period is occurring from Dec. 1, 2018, to April 4, 2019.
Online Project Information: Go to http://tinyurl.com/FossilCreekCRMP
Online Planning Documents: Go to http://tinyurl.com/FossilCreekDocuments
To Submit Comments: Please submit comments in writing through one of several methods:
Email: to (include “Fossil Creek CRMP” in the subject line)
Mail: to Coconino National Forest, Attention: Fossil Creek CRMP, P.O. Box 20429, Sedona, AZ 86341
Fax: to (928) 203-7539
In person: to Red Rock Ranger District Office, 8375 State Route 179, Sedona, AZ 86351.
Comments should clearly articulate the reviewer’s concerns and contentions and provide the Forest Service with information that will be helpful in making a decision on the Fossil Creek CRMP and DEIS. For example, are there components of an alternative that you believe will result in effects (good or bad) that are not adequately described in the DEIS? Be as specific as possible and support your statements with facts and references. Consider whether your comments are solution-oriented. Do more than just provide an opinion or a vote. Remember that comments are not counted as votes where the alternative that is most referenced is the selected alternative. Also, remember that identical comments submitted (as a form letter, for example) will be treated as one comment.
Names and physical and/or e-mail addresses that are submitted during the comment period will be included in the official record for the Fossil Creek planning project and may be available for public inspection.
Public comments collected during the 2016 scoping period and during earlier comment periods serve as the basis for the range of alternatives presented now in the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). All previous comments, since 2010, have helped the Forest Service understand the issues important to people who visit or are interested in Fossil Creek, namely how people are able to recreate in Fossil Creek, the impacts that use has on natural and cultural resources and the recreation experience, the amount and type of recreational development in the Fossil Creek corridor, and public health and safety. Comments submitted in earlier phases of planning for the Fossil Creek CRMP need not be re-submitted.
Contact Us: If you have a question about the Fossil Creek CRMP or want to know how to get involved, contact:
Fossil Creek Project Coordinator Marcos Roybal: (928) 203-2915 maroybal@fs.fed.us
Red Rock Ranger District NEPA Planner Elizabeth Munding: (928) 203-2914 elizabethamunding@fs.fed.us
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Legends of Superior Trails: Arnett Canyon Trail segment
Arnett Creek is a key feature of the LOST system
Picketpost Mountain looms over the LOST 
The new LOST trail segment connects with the Arizona Trail
“When I first hiked the Legends of Superior Trails, I had no clue how awesome they are,” says Mila Besich, Mayor of the Town of Superior.  “After the hike, I felt like crying but I wasn’t sure if it was because of the overwhelming beauty or because I had gone nearly nine miles,” Besich laughed. 
Hikers descend a steep section of the new Arnett Canyon Trl. 
Speaking at the March 24, 2019 inauguration of the new Legends of Superior Trails (LOST) Arnett Canyon segment, Besich acknowledged the many individuals and organizations that contributed to the planning and construction of the fresh-cut, 1.5-mile trail section that connects with the Arizona Trail at the Picketpost Trailhead off U.S. 60. 
A steep, narrow section of the trail.
Arnett Creek flows through volcanic terrain.
While leaders at the Tonto National Forest, Resolution Copper, Arizona Trail Association and the Town of Superior did the governmental and land management red-tape wrangling, young American Conservation Experience workers did much of the shoveling and sweating to build the singletrack path that can be hiked as a loop or a one-way trek to the historic Pinal Townsite that’s part of the LOST system of interpretive routes that explore the town’s history and mining heritage.
Wildflowers grow among outcroppings of volcanic ash.
Although the mountain-bound community sits in the heart of the mineral-rich Copper Corridor just an hour east of Phoenix where mining is a core industry, Besich is quick to point out that the area’s treasures extend beyond its ore.
Mila Besich, Mayor of the Town of Superior in Arnett Can.
“We’re not a mining town. We’re a town with a world-class mine,” she emphasized.  Cognizant of the boom-and-bust nature of the mining business, the town ranks its natural outdoor assets as being as important as any commercial enterprise. The improvement and expansion of the LOST hiking hub is part of the town’s diversification objectives to boost the economy while staying true to its roots.  “The project is a marathon,” Besich said. “LOST is a start, and we envision Superior being home to the next best trail system in Arizona.”  This ambitious goal includes plans for a 110-mile stacked loop trail system that will wind through rugged back country and the Queen Creek-Arnett Creek watersheds south of town. The project—which will use the LOST system as an anchor-- is currently in the planning and permitting process and if all goes well, construction could begin in the next couple of years.  In the meantime, hikers can enjoy the many miles of outstanding existing trails in Superior. 
Situated at the crux of two of the state-traversing Arizona Trail’s most spectacular desert passages that meet at the base of volcanic Picketpost Mountain, the newly completed Arnett Canyon Trail segment is a segue to a landscape of amazing biodiversity, history and complex geology. 
Globemallow bloom along the trails.
The segment begins near the site host campsite with an uphill walk with views of the Superstition Wilderness. Other than a short section where the trail descends steeply on a narrow, rocky ridge that’s not recommended for bike or equestrian use, the hike is effortless.
Hikers on the LOST loop approach the Picketpost TH 
Where the route brushes the flanks of Picketpost Mountain, hikers might be inspired to climb to its 4375-foot summit by way of a sketchy and difficult spur path off the Arizona Trail.  At the 0.6-mile point, turn right and pass through a gate to complete the 1.5-mile loop. Or, to extend the hike, continue straight ahead into Arnett Canyon for a drop-dead-gorgeous, out-and-back creekside trek smothered in greenery and pillars of petrified volcanic ash.  It won’t take too many miles of hiking to understand why Besich says this enchanting trail system is, “a dream come true” and a key inspiration for the reimagination of a desert town.
LOST is just the beginning of a planned hiking hub.
Volcanic rock formations in Arnett Canyon
Superstition Wilderness vistas seen from LOST
LENGTH: 1.5-mile loop
RATING: easy
ELEVATION:  2461 – 2342 feet
GETTING THERE:
Picketpost Trailhead:
From U.S. 60 just before entering the Town of Superior and a mile past the Boyce Thompson Arboretum between mileposts 221 and 222, turn right at the Picketpost Trailhead sign and continue 1 mile to the parking area. Roads are paved and maintained dirt suitable for all vehicles. There is a restroom at the trailhead. The trail begins near the site host campsite.
INFO:
Legends of Superior Trails
Arizona Trail
https://aztrail.org/explore/passages/passage-17-alamo-canyon

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Arizona Hiking by Mare - 2M ago
EASY BREEZY LOOP
A slick rock segment on the Templeton Trail

At the Back O’ Beyond trailhead one recent Sunday morning, a chirpy declaration from a group of young people spilling from a parked SUV broke the silence. “Cathedral Rock! Counts for church.”
Cathedral Rock seen from the HT Trail
Regardless of where your beliefs fall on the spiritual spectrum, the trails surrounding the iconic Sedona rock formation grab your heart and don’t let go. 
The Easy Breezy Trail has many wash crossings
Whether the come-hither call is the result of magic, faith or the magnetic pull of the high-iron-content rocks, the emotional tug of Cathedral Rock has a way of luring hikers back again and again.
The Two Nuns (far right, center) seen from HT Trail
 
The maze of trails that wrap around Cathedral Rock’s looming parapets that resemble a medieval fortress keeping watch above Oak Creek, offer many ways to commune with the stony behemoth. 
A raven takes flight above the Easy Breezy Trail
An edgy traverse on the flanks of Cathedral Rock
Trail choices include a rugged scramble to a scenic saddle, edge-hugging rambles and easy forest strolls.  A less busy option that samples the many moods of this enchanting landscape is a hike on the Easy Breezy-Templeton Loop.  From the Cathedral Rock trailhead, the circuit steers clear of the crowds by heading left on the recently adopted Easy Breezy Trail.  The theme of the circuit’s first mile is immediately revealed as the path drops into a scoured drainage channel. 
Beginning of the sketchy return leg of the Easy Breezy Trail
Alternating between cloistered cypress-pinion woodlands and open spaces of filtered sunlight, the route makes several wash crossings aided by native stone “stairs” built into water-carved embankments.  Annual deluges have exposed layers of colorful sediments and the artful stylings of tree roots that sprawl snake-like through spillways of sand, stone and crystalline pools.  The HT Trail junction marks the end of the shaded, water-centric leg of the hike.  Head right at the sign and follow HT Trail uphill for a 0.3-mile traipse through high-desert grasslands with clear views of a seldom-seen angles of Cathedral Rock and the familiar silhouettes of Courthouse Butte and the Two Nuns formations. 
Mountain vistas on the Templeton Trail
At the Templeton Trail junction, go right and follow the swerving path as it works its way toward the exposed slickrock passage on the east flanks of Cathedral Rock.  Clinging to the barren mound, the trail swings north to meet the west end of the Easy Breezy Trail. The junction sign here points into a ravine with no obvious trail.
A rocky passage on the Easy Breezy Trail
If you choose this 0.4-mile return leg option, be prepared for some route finding, bike traffic and loose rock. Otherwise, continue north on Templeton and connect with the less confusing Cathedral Rock Trail to get back to the trailhead where a map kiosk can help harness the metaphysical or  scientific urge for more into a return trip.
Arizona cypress trees shade the trails
The hike shows seldom-seen angles of Cathedral Rock
Artful exposed roots along the Easy Breezy Trail
LENGTH: 3.3 miles
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 3998 - 4203 feet
GETTING THERE:
Back O’ Beyond/Cathedral Rock Trailhead:
From Interstate 17, take the Sedona/Oak Creek exit 298. Turn left (west) and continue 11 miles on State Route 179 to the traffic circle at Back O’ Beyond Road near milepost 310. Veer left and go 0.6 mile on Back O’ Beyond to the trailhead on the left.
FEE: A $5 Red Rock Pass or equivalent is required. There’s a pay station and restroom at the trailhead.
MAP:

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Arizona Hiking by Mare - 2M ago
FIREWATER LOOP

Prescott National Forest
Willow Creek spills over the Javelina Trail.
The constantly evolving and growing system of woodsy trails surrounding Thumb Butte in Prescott National Forest has a new darling. Although the former social trail (a user-built, unsanctioned path) had been around for a while, it was only recently adopted, rerouted, signed and officially named the Firewater Trail No. 325  by the forest service and group of Prescott-area volunteers known as the Over the Hill Gang.
Wild candytuft blooms along the trails Feb-Aug.
An edgy section of the Firewater Trail.
Since this 2017 debutante is located inland from trailheads, it’s necessary to build an outside-in plan to reach it. There are many options for tying it into a day hike circuit including a loop that begins at the new White Rock trailhead off Thumb Butte Road just 5 miles from downtown Prescott. 
Signs at the beginning of the loop portion of the hike.
With its stimulating blend of water, far-reaching vistas, historic artifacts and several bio-zones, the moderate, three-trail circuit is bound to become a classic.
Corral on the Javelina Trail.
Creek crossing near the Javelina-Firewater junction.
Start on the West Trail No. 318, which is also part of the Prescott Circle Trail--- a 55-mile route that wraps around town.  Ponderosa-pine-shaded and replete with gigantic granite boulders and trickling drainages, West Trail is an effortless 0.5-mile traipse up to the Javelina Trail No. 332 junction---the beginning of the hike’s loop section. Veer left and follow Javelina Trail through an undulating terrain flanked by alligator junipers, manzanitas, oaks and mossy ravines. Much of this deeply forested segment traces the feeder drainages and main course of Willow Creek.
Granite Mountain seen from the Firewater Trail.
Roughly 1.4 miles from the junction, the trail bends right into a rocky, willow-cluttered  corridor, crosses the creek and heads uphill into a clearing with an old corral.  This rustic pastoral scene culminates at a clearing with ruins of an old stone chimney where the route heads right, crosses the waterway again then swings right (avoid the social trail that goes left) and connects with Firewater Trail No. 325.
Javelina Trail passes by Thumb Butte.
The 1.2-mile leg begins with an edgy climb on the slopes above the creek that plows through some of the most stunning scenery of the loop. Deep canyons, steep drop offs and lots of shade make the twisting course a joy to hike and an all-too-short dip into a rich pocket of Prescott National Forest. 
The route crosses several drainages.
Where the route leaves the deep woods and  bumps back into Trail No. 318, head right for the view-centric return leg. Here, high ridge vantage points showcase multi-level mountain vistas. 
Granite boulders on the West Trail.
In the foreground, the massive hulk of Granite Mountain commands the landscape.
Prescott Valley seen from West Trail.
Farther out, a dim chain of peaks that includes Bill Williams Mountain, Kendrick Mountain and the San Francisco Peaks appear as vague humps jutting above a sea of pines and the plains of Prescott Valley.  At several turns along the final mile, Thumb Butte peeks out from breaks in the pinion pine cover, signaling the end of a short but multi-faceted trek.
Part of the Javelina Trail flanks Willow Creek.
White Rock trailhead on Thumb Butte Road opened in 2018.
LENGTH: 5.3 miles
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION:  5614 – 6010 feet
GETTING THERE:
From Courthouse Plaza in historic downtown Prescott, go 5 miles east on Gurley Street (turns into Thumb Butte Road) to the large White Rock trailhead on the right. Roads are 100% paved. No fees or facilities.
INFO:
City of Prescott
Prescott National Forest
https://www.fs.usda.gov/prescott
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