Once again, to put the Arizona in AZ Diy Guy, I’m sharing a cool, hidden-gem of a day-hike destination. I’m not going to gum it all up with too many words, so I’ll let my photo safari speak. Back to DIY’ing next time!
Red Mountain is about a 3 hour drive from Phoenix. From the US Forestry Service Site:
Red Mountain, located in the Coconino National Forest of northern Arizona, 25 miles northwest of Flagstaff, is a volcanic cinder cone that rises 1,000 feet above the surrounding landscape. It is unusual in having the shape of a "U," and in lacking the symmetrical shape of most cinder cones. In addition, a large natural amphitheater cuts into the cone's northeast flank. Erosional pillars called "hoodoos" decorate the amphitheater, and many dark mineral crystals erode out of its walls. Studies by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Northern Arizona University scientists suggest that Red Mountain formed in eruptions about 740,000 years ago.
The access road to the trail-head off Highway 180 is pretty rough. I saw some small cars that managed to trundle it in there, but a truck or other somewhat high vehicle would be best. Our Subaru Outback has 4WD and some decent ground clearance. It jostled us, but we got in.
Out of the car and loaded with some drinking water and sunglasses, we headed off into the wild.
You can see the busted open mountain in the distance for the first half of the hike as you walk through a red-desert filled with cicadas, junipers and scrub.
The cicadas were nearly deafening for the first third of the hike or so. The squeaking and clicking of thousands of these little creatures was unworldly. Speakers up:
The open desert gives way to an ancient wash, that sparkles with flecks of black, glass-like rocks and minerals.
It’s an odd mix of plantlife and changing geology as the red rocks and orange dirt mix with black/gray volcanic material.
It’s not a tough trail to walk if you are reasonably fit. It’s not wheelchair friendly by any means and unstable elderly or squirrelly toddlers would need some assistance.
Towards the end of the trail, walls of rock raised sharply.
It becomes a cathedral of rock towers.
It’s like the sets of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Lord of the Rings, all rolled up in one.
It was worth the trip. Grab breakfast on the way up, an early dinner on the way back and it’s an awesome trip from Phoenix.
Check out the USDA Forestry Service Site for Red Mountain Trail 159 for more info.