Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hike 2014.050E -- Island Trail, Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ

Hiked Monday, September 29. This short trip last month didn't cover a lot of trail miles, but it did cover a lot of highway miles, and I took a heck of a lot of pictures. Many were, admittedly, pretty poor pictures.

Walnut Canyon is about ten miles east of downtown Flagstaff, and a bit south of I-40. At the end of the road is a visitor center. On the parking lot side, the visitor center is just next to a parking lot. Walk though the visitor center, however, and suddenly you're looking over a cliff, and into Walnut Canyon.
There are actually a couple of forks to Walnut Canyon, which is now a usually-dry creek bed. Prior to more recent damming activity, it was more often running, at least often enough that the Sinagua (without water) people who lived here 700-800 years ago could cache what they needed in clay pottery during the spring for domestic use in the summer and fall. Their homes were built under the overhangs of the Kaibab limestone cliffs (yes, the same formation as at the top of the Grand Canyon, just 90 or so miles to the north).

From the visitor center, both the Island and Rim trails begin. The Rim Trail (which I did not walk) runs .7 miles along the north rim of Walnut Canyon. The roughly one-mile Island Trail descends from the rim and the visitor center, to an "island" outcropping between two forks of Walnut Canyon. It's normally a .9 mile loop, but on the day we visited, the far end of the trail was closed for repair.
The remains of these ancient homes are in varying degrees of collapse, and visible both on canyon walls across from where the trail runs, and directly adjacent to the trail. Some have been partially restored.

You are free to walk inside of most of the homes, but you are asked to please not lean or climb over the walls, and please, do not use the homes as toilets.
Yes, that's what the NPS sign at the top of the trail asks you not to do: Don't use the rooms as toilets. You'd think that would go without saying, but if people are stupid enough to graffiti national parks, then take pictures of themselves doing this, then post those pictures to the Internet, there's no telling what kind of stupidity people will do, even if you ask them not to do it.
By itself, this day's walk does not qualify as a hike, so I pooled it together with a number of other short walks I took that weekend. Nice little trip to Arizona.

Only a couple of hikes since then, but there are still some older hikes I haven't blogged yet, as well. I'll keep going at them; hope to catch up some more soon.


  1. I remember visiting here when I was a kid in the 1960's and then again back in the 1970's. I remember it was such a fantastic place full of history.

  2. The whole Southwest seems weighted down by the eons. Something about those grand vistas and dry landscapes!