Tucson Mountain Park was our choice for a day hike during our short stay. The park has a network of trails and an abundance of saguaro cactus scattered throughout the mountains and valleys. Unique to Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, these slow-growing giants can reach 40-60 feet and live 150-200 years.
Saguaros have the classic cactus look, and are easily identifiable . Standing tall, arms pointing upwards, waving at all who pass by. They are the charming, charismatic hosts of the Sonoran Desert.
Flagstaff, Arizona welcomed us yesterday with some bitterly cold snow and ferocious nighttime winds. We huddled in bed under two blankets and a thick quilt as the trailer rattled and shook. What would the morning bring? We awoke to sunshine and temperatures expected to soar into the 50s. Perfect hiking weather.
Before heading east, Reg was hoping to sample a section of the Arizona National Scenic Trail, a trail that stretches 800 miles through Arizona from Mexico north to the Utah state border. We found the Fisher Point trailhead just south of town. The relatively short 8-mile out and back piece of the Arizona Trail promised an endpoint view high above nearby Walnut Canyon.
Our guidebook warned us of an 846-foot overall elevation gain, but as we followed the trail it seemed to take us more downhill rather than the uphill we were expecting. We marched on until we came to a fork in the trail. As we turned to the left, Fisher Point rose from the valley floor. It looked like we were going to make the majority of that elevation gain all at once.
We climbed up through evergreens, stepping over rocks and around downed trees until finally reaching the top. It is a gorgeous view, however Walnut Canyon lies far below, mostly hidden by the trees and steep walls. We were able to catch a glimpse by creeping up to the edge where the rocky ledge offered a natural bench for our picnic lunch. It was a good day!
We bumped into a couple from Montana the other day while hiking an off-the-beaten-path trail outside of Camp Verde, Arizona. Both raved about the nearby Bell Trail, claiming the hike was beautiful and led to an intriguing feature not to be missed. “Be sure to go to the end of the trail to see The Crack,” they advised.
The trail became rougher and rocky as it climbed higher. Soon we found ourselves among towering red rock cliffs, with the creek far below us. As we came around the last bend there it was. We saw several groups of people gathered above it…The Crack. Reg found a perfect lunch spot and we settled in to watch who might be brave enough to take it on.
From our perch we could see the deep channel the creek cut between the rocky cliffs. What appeared to be a deep pool of water flowed between rapids both upstream and downstream, creating a tempting swimming hole after a long hot hike. We had heard that only the bravest jumped from the cliff, a plunge of about 20 feet.
We heard whoops and screams as a few hardy folks made their way to the water’s edge and took a dip. Cold was the consensus of the courageous few.
Several folks insisted the great hiking through unusual rock formations (know as Granite Dells) just outside the city of Prescott, Arizona was not to be missed. We packed our lunch, filled our water bottles and set off over the hill to see what all the fuss was about.
These granite boulders were formed 1.4 billion years ago, slowly exposed and shaped by erosion and weathering. Wandering through this geologic wonderland is like entering another world.
We normally prefer circular hikes that allow us to avoid retracing our steps, but there was only one way out of Boynton Canyon…at least only one safe way out. We followed the dusty red trail in until it dropped us down into the forest, beneath a cover of evergreens. Climbing began toward the end of the trail where we scrambled up a narrow channel of boulders, emerging onto a large, smooth rock outcropping, scattered with handful of other determined hikers enjoying the view.
I try to remember to stop and look up every so often when hiking rather than carefully watching where I put my every footstep. The views were on our return trip were incredibly rewarding.