April 6, 2013

Fisher Point - Walnut Canyon Trail, Flagstaff, AZ

On a near 70-degree early-April day in Flagstaff, we decided to head out to access the upper point of Walnut Canyon and Fisher Point. Previously, we have accessed Walnut Canyon via Sandy's Canyon, which I wrote about HERE. We also accessed the canyon rim of Walnut Canyon via Campbell Mesa and of course at Walnut Canyon National Park.

Today, we accessed it via Fisher Point by taking the dirt Herald Ranch Road, which branches off of Butler Avenue right off of I-40. At the end of the road, after passing a number of nearly "off-the-grid" homes back in the forest. From here, we hiked down an closed US Forest Service Road until reaching the "Loop Trail". Turning left here, we came up to the Arizona Trail. Once you park and walk down the dirt track, the area to Fisher Point and the canyon is well signed.

Upon reaching the edge of Sandy's Canyon (which is actually the name for that portion of Walnut Canyon), you come to the Arizona Trail, the 800-mile route from Utah to Mexico across the entire state. Here you can turn right and head down into the canyon or turn right and reach the scenic viewpoint of Fisher Point in 0.5 miles. On the way up to Fisher Point, there are some really spectacular views of the landscape, including the San Francisco Peaks, Kendrick Peak, and the observatories on Mars Hill.

Upon reaching Fisher Point, you can look up Sandy's Canyon. Looking down the canyon is a little more of a challenge due to the steepness of the slope and the vegetation. However, if you follow some of the game trails, you can get a peak down canyon as you can see above.

After climbing Fisher Point, then we backtracked and then descended into Sandy's Canyon. At the bottom of the canyon, we once again admired the cross-bedded Coconino Sandstone and then continued down Walnut Canyon to check out the caves and other features.

The canyon used to have an active year-round flowing stream that was used by the Sinagua peoples at Walnut Canyon National Monument. However, when Lake Mary was created to supply Flagstaff with its drinking water, the stream dried up. Today, it is overgrown with willows and aspens, while the rounded stream rocks can be seen in places under a thick layer of grass.

Amazingly, despite weeks of temperatures in 50's and even 60's, there were still some patches of ice and snow in the canyon. Hilina enjoyed "ice skating", doing pirouettes and spins. Anyways, what a wonderful spring day in Flagstaff.

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