Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hike #11: Historic Bell Trail, Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness, Coconino National Forest

Length: 7 miles

The Bell Trail, which weaves through the cliffs surrounding the Wet Beaver Creek, is just a few miles north of the West Clear Creek Trail. While the West Clear Creeks Trail runs directly along the creek with the cliffs towering overhead, the Bell Trail sit high atop the cliffs with the creek running far below.

The trail itself can nicely be divided into three sections. The first section runs through open mountains, blanketed in massive amounts of prickly pear cacti. Perhaps the highlight of this first portion is a large igneous boulder covered in ancient petroglyphs. The middle section of the trail slowly climbs through some of the most beautiful red cliffs I've yet to see in Arizona. The trail's narrow ledge allows for spectacular beauty from both above and below...just be careful not to fall off while you're staring with awe at the cliffs overhead! Finally, the trails descends to the lower cliffs immediately next to the creek. From here, you can either jump in for a relaxing swim in the deep cool water or merely enjoy the amazing view. Overall, these diverse elements combine
for an exciting and surprising hiking experience!

For anyone actually considering hiking this trail, I definitely recommend this guide. Mr. Reynolds did an excellent job of describing this trail with extremely helpful instructions that gave the distance between landmarks in time rather than mileage. (It's much easier to gauge how long you've traveled rather than how far!)

To view more of my pictures of the Bell Trail, click here.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hike #10: Willow Springs Trail, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest - Attempt #2

Length: 8 miles

After my failure to find the Willow Springs Trail on my last visit, I decided that it was worth a second attempt. With the knowledge from my first attempt, this time staying on the correct path was no problem!

The actual Willow Springs Trail was a very nice journey. Although there wasn't nearly the amount of wildlife as on the other "trail" I mistakenly followed, the real trail did provide an abundance of wildflowers and scenic bogs. However, the highlight of the trail was Willow Springs Lake - a small man-made lake, which the trail hugs for about 3 miles.

The Willow Springs Trail makes for an excellent summer hike. At an elevation of 7,600 ft, there is a constant breeze (which when coming across the lake can be down right cold!) Had it been a little warmer, I might have been sad not to have any swimwear...the lake's amazingly clear water is definitely beckoning. The only drawback to this trail is that the last couple miles follow a rather bland path carved for a series of electric lines - not exactly the greatest of scenery after the beauty of the bogs and lake.

To see more picture of the Willow Springs Trail, click here.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Hike #9: Willow Springs Trail, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

Length: 8 miles

This morning, I set off towards the northeast to check off another of Arizona's National Forests - the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The plan was to hike a well-known bike path - the Willow Springs Trail, another of the "30 Summer Hikes" from Phoenix magazine.

Now, while I had no difficulties in following the magazine's directions to the trailhead, following the "correct" trail was a different story! In the magazine article, it stated that the trail would fork after 1/2 mile and that it was advisable to take the right path. Now, after less than a 1/4 mile, there was a fork...clearly too early to be the "1/2 mile" turn-off. Nevertheless, I followed the trail to the right and followed the blue markers. After awhile, I came to another fork and turned right thinking that this was the "1/2 mile" fork. Now, the left trail of this fork was clearly marked with this trail sign, which I chose to ignore (however, I'm blaming this mistake on this other fallen sign!)

I, now, know that I should have followed the trail sign instead of listening to the author's brief summary. Although I didn't get to see the promised marshlands and lake that the original trail detailed, I did see a large variety of wildflowers and several elk. (In fact, at one point I tried to creep up on a herd of 8-10 elk, which was quite the sight to see!)

To see more pictures of the Willow Springs Trail, click here.