Friday, May 16, 2008

Hike #35: Soldier Pass Trail, Red Rock Wilderness, Coconino National Forest

Length: 4.5 miles

Popular with the local Jeep tours, the Soldier Pass Trail is a highly interesting trek with several delightful sights directly along the trail!

The trail begins to the right of the official Jeep path, working it's way through a quarter-mile of sparse forest. The trail then crosses the Jeep path at the first of the three sites along this trail. To the right of the trail is Devil's Kitchen, a 100-foot deep sinkhole (see picture below).

After Devil's Kitchen, the trail wraps its way between the Red Rock buttes for another mile until it arrives at the second site of interest - the Seven Sacred Pools. These deep puddles have slowly been carved from the soft slickrock and are generally filled with water. I've seen several beautiful pictures of these pools, with the sky and red cliffs reflected in their surfaces; unfortunately, during my visit, the pools where merely filled with a disgusting green water that was spawning numerous forms of life.

Continuing along, the trail again crosses the Jeep path and then descends into a dry creekbed. The trail then leaves the Jeep path and begins a rather steep climb into the surrounding cliffs. Eventually, the trail ends at Solder Pass Arch, a small natural arch with just inches between the arch and the adjacent cliff. In fact, the arch is much more cave-like than most of the arches one associates with arches of the Southwest! However, the arch does provide a welcome resting place that is both shaded and cool. After a well-deserved break, return along the same path or merely follow the established Jeep path back to the trailhead.

To view more photos of the Soldier Pass Trail, click here.

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