If you’ve been to Mogollon Rim by way of Forest Road 95, you’ve passed over the bridge at East Clear Creek.
The road itself is dusty, windy, and beautiful. It’s kind of like a suspense thriller – and I don’t mean spooky guy at the end. In fact, for me it’s a plot that thickens. It starts with boring tall forest to pull you in. It’s nice enough, but sorta drab.
Then it sprinkles in some cool craggy oaks, and the occasional fir. Then.. just as you turn the corner, it grabs you with more breathtaking views.
We have not had much of a winter, or snow fall… or rain this summer. As a result Blue Ridge Reservoir, our local waterway, has been pretty devoid of water. Our recent fires haven’t helped much, with air support dipping into the reservoir for water needs to put out fires.
Hiking into the river bed revealed the reality of the toll the reservoir has taken, when it was clear that the waterway was not only dry, but dry long enough to be covered with a fresh green grass.
While it was a beautiful hike, it heightened our need for rain… and a good snow fall this winter.
Hutch Mountain Lookout tower is one of many throughout Arizona. It is on the National Historic Lookout Registry. It was built in 1936, and still serves as a manned major viewpoint for fires in the Flagstaff area. Located off of FR3 (Lake Mary Road) at Milepost 310, not too far down a couple good dirt roads.
The day we were there there were 9 fires in the area, all started by dry lightening, including the Tank Fire. The Tank Fire was in the very same area as the Tinder Fire which devastated our neighborhoods just a month before. As an eery reminder of those terrifying days, our neighboring subdivisions CCP 1&2 were issued pre-evacuation notices. Fortunately, the fire was quickly doused and completely contained.
From the top of the tower you could see the Chinooks flying on the horizon dumping water of the fire.
The surrounding landscape is full of Ponderosa pine, mixed conifer, elk and deer.
At 8535 feet elevation the days are cool, and nights brisk. Climbing the tower offers a vantage point across northern AZ.
Just off the Forest Road 300 is an obscure road marked FR 218: Milk Ranch Road. Along it are magnificent overlooks of the Mogollon Rim below. One can find an open spot in the woods or down a long rocky rough road to be rewarded by this great expanse.
If you’re lucky you’ll be blessed with amazing skies, puffy clouds, and remarkable sunsets and sunrises. If you’re not, just enjoy the view, a nice picnic and peaceful, relaxing visit.
For more from this trip and Lessons from a Squirrel check out my post HERE.
Fall cometh early to Northern AZ. I have told anyone that would listen, winter is coming. It’s getting cold early and fast. We’ve already had overnight lows below freezing. So with it, the leaves are popping. We have been out several times to see them, and plan on several more trips. I think October 1 is the earliest I have ever seen this abundance of color. Usually it’s not until at least 2nd or 3rd week of October. My guess is by then we’ll be taking photos of snow instead of leaves.
But we’re loving it. The beauty is incredible. I don’t know how I every lived in the valley without getting the 4 seasons. I’m addicted… and love it.
Talk about photographic fodor. The color variations and possibilities are stunning. We packed a lunch and had an amazing view amidst the burst of color we found ourselves in.