The Land of the Tree Stumps 

Today I asked Clutch to help me knock out a few short hikes on the trail map I’m trying to complete.

First stop was the William Wood Trail. Exactly .5 of a mile on a paved road from Lakeview Campground to Lake Mary Road. Nothing like starting with the easiest of easy trails. Upon crossing the road popular for biking , we continued walking until we reached the Lake.

Beautiful warm day for a walk alongside the banks of Upper Lake Mary. We watched people fish, kayak, canoe , small motor boat ride, and picnic. But alas, we had no such time to linger we needed to move on to the next Trail.

Marshall Lake which is located on Anderson Mesa is popular for duck hunting, fishing, camping, and off road vehicles.

The Observatory has an interesting history and conducts fascinating research. Click below to learn more.

Lowell Observatory
This facility is closed to the public but they have a location downtown that boasts breath-taking night sky viewings and educational programs. This facility is also where astronauts trained and the planet Pluto was discovered !

The first trail we tried was steep, rocky, and eventually led to an open meadow where we could hear gun shots. We decided not to venture any further. Part of the Arizona trail passes through the Marshall Lake area and was much better maintained than the first trail we tried. I marked a few spots on my map so I could come back and explore more in depth on my own.

Time for the final hike. Fay Ridge trail is only marked by a numbered forest road sign. We drove on this dirt trail until we found what looked like a trailhead. As we approached I saw what I guessed to be detailed maps of the area. Upon getting closer this is what I found:

Just the structure awaiting map installation.  To be on the safe side I set our location using my Garmin watch and we set off on the most likely looking trail. The trail was open to bikes, hikers, and motorcycles. Fortunately, we saw no one else while on this trail.

There’s my boot on the rocky trail. Just to give you an idea of the terrain.

I was enjoying the trees and the occasional tree stump until we stumbled upon the land of the tree stumps:

It appeared to be acres upon acres of just stumps. I couldn’t help but wonder why. I saw no sign of disease. No paper factory. No log cabins. No sawmill. Oh… could this just be an area thinned out by the State Land Department/Forest Service? I’m guessing they were trying to create natural meadows in the midst of the forest? Regardless of the reason, it was a depressing scene.

Thankfully the hike didn’t end in the land of the stumps. This bright wildflower stood out almost as a sign of hope for a meadow to evolve and fill with fields of flowers and abundance of wildlife.

Without a map it was impossible to know if we were on a loop trail or an endless trail of trails. We decided to call it a day and head back towards the trailhead.

I’m looking forward to tackling a long hike soon.

Have I mentioned how much I love summer hiking?!



Stories of a Life Outdoors

Just finished reading the following REI blog/journal:


The first entry has great tips for camping tricks.

The next entries include solo rock climbing records, how 3 days in the outdoors improves your life, and a few other short but intriguing reads.

I thought I’d share it in hopes that it might give you some new ideas or encourage you to get outdoors.
Happy reading!


Ps: The featured photo is a painting I did yesterday and reflects how I feel about being outdoors! I enjoy the comfort and beauty that surrounds me. The outdoors bring color and creativity to my life.

Highland Trail

Wow!!! I absolutely love this trail.

I had no idea our little town had wetlands that actually contain water and wildlife! Usually the “lakes” you come across while hiking are empty and dry. What a sweet surprise to discover this little hidden gem.

The hike begins at Ft. Tuthill Park via the Soldiers Trail that veers onto the Highland Trail.

Sounds easy enough, if you actually start on the Soldiers trail instead of trying to make your own short cut. When you realize you are walking in circles then you stop to look at a map. Which is great, unless you can’t decide which direction you are facing.

The beginning of the hike you are in the shade and hiking on rather flat land. Then you get to risk your life by crossing Hwy. 89 (the popular major road to Sedona). The trail picks up across the highway and becomes a single track trail. You know, one foot in front of the other as if you were measuring the length of a room. You pass by a few homes and are welcomed by friendly barking dogs. As the trail widens you’ll find yourself mostly in the sun as you descend into the bottom of a wide drainage area.

As you climb out you’ll see a ridge line that hides the wetlands from your viewpoint. Just over the ridge you are greeted with several very dry and empty water holes. At this point you are sure the wetlands have dried up and this is all that is left. But don’t give up!!!

Continuing on around the corner you’ll discover water, reeds, cattails, birds, geese, and a stunning view of the Peaks!

I’m bringing a hammock, binoculars, lunch and my good camera next time I do this trail!

Round trip for this hike was 8.63 miles, and probably a bit more because I forgot to un-pause my GPS watch after a short break! Not to mention the little “short cut” at the beginning. But the map says 3.7 miles each way.

The hike is rated easy and starts at 6820 ft. in elevation and ends at 7060 ft. So you now know how level the trail really is!

Definitely plan on hanging around the wetlands for awhile if you do this hike.

Enjoy the great outdoors! It’ll change your life .


Sunset Trail

One of my favorite hikes in Flagstaff. I do believe this was the first hike that Dee and I did as a kickstart to our training for the Colorado Trail last year. This trail meets up with the Heart Trail that I did a few weeks ago. It also takes you the back way to the top of Mt. Elden, which I blogged about in my Fat Mans Loop post . I love how many trails in Flagstaff intersect. This allows a tremendous amount of options for hiking plans.

You can imagine how excited I was to see the warning of bears sighted on this trail! I’ve been anxious to get another chance to use my bear whisperer skill! 

This trail starts off in a heavily treed area before opening into a meadow.

It’s a very popular trail for mountain biking. Most bikers use a bell to let you know they are coming. When they are coming downhill their speeds and rock jumping abilities are impressive! I’ve found myself on more than one occasion shouting ” Be careful”  as they fly by me. Must be the mother instinct in me. A ” don’t worry about me” grin is the usual response I get in return. 

As you climb out of the meadow you are greeted by great views and a breeze that is almost chilly.
From this point you enter the “catwalk” that takes you up to the Mt. Eldens lookout tower.

As you can see there still is a lot of forest recovery needed after the big fire roared through this area.Speaking of fires, you can see the smoke in the distance that was started by a campfire during Memorial weekend . Thankfully it was quickly contained.

A quick stop on Signal hill for a lunch break. This is the only spot in Flagstaff that my phone gets a full 5 bar signal!! Signal hill is just below the Elden Towers.
This hike is rated moderate. I believe the round trip mileage is 9.7. I’m still trying to figure out how to use my new Garmen Fenix watch! It is capable of so many cool things, but somehow I’m still just trying to learn how to set my location and find the start button! I’m wondering if it can track bears?! I was disappointed not to see any on this trip.

Until next hike!


Mount Elden

Mt. Elden is a very popular hike in Flagstaff.  You have the options of a 45 minute loop trail, or a short trek to access the Buffalo Park trails, or the complete grunt up to the top to the lookout tower – where you’ll gain 3,000 ft of elevation in under 3 miles.

The trail is rocky and steep but the views are great and all the moisture this winter and spring brought pretty blooms.

One of the highlights is the unique boulders that are scattered through a section of the loop, affectionately named Fat Man’s Loop.

Wildlife such as deer, snakes, lizards, and the occasional mountain lion like to hang out here.

I love to photograph the trees on this mountain. Between the alligator juniper, Ponderosa Pines, and Aspens the colors, shapes, ages, and stages are an always changing wonder to observe.

As I mentioned in a previous post, this hike is the best training hike in Flagstaff. Many prepare for hiking the Grand Canyon here. Firefighters can be seen running this trail with full gear as part of their fitness routine . You’ll see people sitting beside the trail trying to catch their breath, red-faced, and feeling defeated. Even the tower watchmen who climb this mountain frequently declare this hike never gets easier but it does start to feel shorter after a few months.

The loop is the most popular choice, and for the most part anyone can do this with just moderate effort . But to climb to the top I’d advise you to be acclimated to the elevation of Flagstaff (7,000 ft), bring lots of water, a few salty snacks, and keep a slow steady pace.