I actually have a few minutes to spare, so I thought I’d write about two beautiful hikes I enjoyed last month. Arizona has a lot of interesting and gorgeous scenery; the state boasts a wide variety of environments and landscapes that surprise most visitors. That said….
Hike #1: Brown’s Peak
This hike leads adventurers to the highest point in Maricopa County and offers fantastic views of the different canyons and lakes. Brown’s Peak is the highest of the Four Peaks mountain cluster north of Phoenix and is a good day hike for those with the time and inclination….and you will need a lot of time, because the drive to the trailhead takes a good two hours, for which you will need a high-clearance vehicle. The last 20 miles of the drive is on a rocky, dirt road and took us a whole hour. Normally, that would be hard to endure, because who likes being in a vehicle that is going THAT slow? Our scenery during the drive was really pretty, which made being stuck in a truck more bearable.
(I called this “Arizona’s Stonehenge.”)
The hike starts at the well-marked trailhead and winds its way through lush forest. After a few switchbacks, we came across a rock nicknamed “Woodstock.” Very cool rock formation! We kept on hiking up and up and passed through burned forest (there was a fire in this area about 20 years ago) then caught lovely views of Roosevelt Lake. The REAL hike started at the saddle; the trail stopped here and we had to climb over boulders to get to the scree chute…then scale a small wall to get up to the final ledge before the peak. The view was worth the effort.
(Clockwise from top left: Me and “Woodstock”…Our goal!…the scree chute we had to climb in order to reach the final ledge to the peak…a view of the valley along the way.)
(Clockwise from top left: We made it to the top! We are with our friend Julia. Roosevelt Lake is in the background….the view of the other 3 peaks from Brown’s Peak…what the scree chute looks like from the other direction, i.e. DOWN….is this an original rock carving from 1867?)
Hike #2 (and a short mountain bike ride): During Easter weekend, the annual AZ Muni weekend took place in Sedona. What is “muni,” you may ask? Muni stands for mountain unicycling and it is exactly what that sounds like….riding a unicycle down mountains. Just like mountain biking, muni riders test their inherent toughness by navigating down trails strewn with rocks, ledges, boulders, and other natural obstacles. My SAT was heavily involved with the AZ Unicycling Club when we lived in Tempe during my graduate school years and when we moved back to AZ, he looked up his old muni buddies and got hooked into the muni scene again. While in Sedona, we camped with some muni friends and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and temperatures. My SAT chose to mountain bike with some other friends that weekend and since they were doing a very long and painful training ride, I decided to hike up to Wilson Mountain, the highest point in Sedona (7,122 feet / 2,171 m). I ended up hiking about 8 miles in total, gaining almost 2,500 feet (762 m) in elevation. The top is actually a 2 mile wide mesa (“table” or plateau) and I hiked to each end to see the views from both sides.
(Clockwise from top left: the start of the trail; view of Sedona; me and my Coke overlooking the view of Sedona; the view from the northern end of the mesa.)
My SAT and I did ride one mountain bike trail together in Sedona….sadly, pretty much all of the mountain bike trails in the Sedona area are rated intermediate level or higher. At first, we thought that I could attempt some of the intermediate level rides, as difficulty levels can sometimes be overrated. However, when I tried riding an intermediate trail that connected with the easy “Bell Rock” trail was on, that intermediate trail got difficult really quickly. Sedona trails are not overrated. The Bell Rock trail was very doable and pretty and now I can say that yes, I have mountain biked in Sedona. I collected a lot of red dirt on my bike during that ride!