Mare Czinar is a serial blogger, manic hiker and “mom” to a dozen adopted dogs, she has been exploring Arizona trails for more than 20 years. After being lead astray by outdated hiking books and online resources, Mare sought to create a fully vetted, frequently updated online hike travelogue with current driving and hiking directions for fellow hikers.
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
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
enviable life removed from city heat, traffic and noise belies a very serious
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
FR 300B begins across from a General Crook trailhead
up. Leave bulky packs and trekking poles behind. Tower stairs are narrow and
space is tight inside.
permission before taking photos or approaching companion animals.
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.
ELEVATION: 7430 - 8074 feet from Baker Lake or 7866 –
8074 from General Crook trailhead.
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.
Park in the dirt turnouts on Rim Road near Baker Lake just a few yards in from
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Brilliant paintbrush are common bloomers along the AZT
Several spur paths lead to scenic points above Walnut Cny.
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
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
first vista point and back: 4.8 miles
second vista point and back: 7.8 miles
Point and back: 12.8 miles
ELEVATION: (to second vista point, 7033 to Fisher Point)
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
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
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.
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.
your timing. Wildlife is most active at dawn and dusk.
invisible. Stay quiet, wear neutral colors and avoid using scented products
like perfume, lotion and strong laundry additives.
patient. Sit quietly behind a tree or
rock and wait for animals to appear.
from a distance. Keep wildlife wild by giving them their space. Never harass,
feed, or handle wildlife.
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.
1.5 miles for two loop trails
easy, the short loop (.25-mile) is barrier-free
ELEVATION: 7862 - 7915 feet
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
as it may seem, some people driving through Sedona are in a hurry.
Mitten Ridge formations seen from Cibola Pass Trail.
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
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
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
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.
ELEVATION: 4520 – 4682 feet
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
A hiker takes a break on the summit of Mount Union.
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
Big Bug Mesa (mid field right) seen from Trail No. 284
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,
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.
6849 – 7979 feet
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!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Red Rock Ranger District NEPA Planner Elizabeth Munding: (928) 203-2914 email@example.com
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
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.
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.
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.
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
ELEVATION: 2461 – 2342 feet
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
ELEVATION: 3998 - 4203 feet
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
ELEVATION: 5614 – 6010 feet
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.