Fall Hiking & Drinking Guide

Written by Mare Czinar and Niki D' Andrea Category: Travel Issue: October 2012

Knock out a hike and tip back a cold one in Arizona high country.

DOG RATING SYSTEM:
*** Best - An abundance of water, interesting stuff to explore, easy-on-the-pads terrain and other dogs to play with make these top-notch doggie destinations.

** Good - More challenging, longer and rougher, these hikes may put too much strain on older or inexperienced dogs.

* Fair - Only the most physically fit, booty-equipped dogs should attempt these “ruff” trails.



phm1012 hg2 mdSEDONA

Harding Springs-Cookstove Loop

Coconino National Forest

Come October, leaf-peepers caravan along the US 89A to Oak Creek Canyon Vista Point, where magazine cover-worthy views are marred by ribbons of pavement, railings, and crowds jostling for a turn at the viewing scope. But fear not, fall color seeker: Nearby, four short, cliff-scaling trails – Thomas Point, Telephone, Harding Springs and Cookstove – are conduits to similarly savory scenery, without the spectators. Of the quartet, Harding is the least steep but still requires your quads to kick into second gear for a 1,200-foot incline.

Start by switchbacking 0.8 mile uphill on Harding Springs Trail No. 51 through dense stands of pines, firs and maples. At the top of the trail, a wooden post marks a three-way junction. Take the path heading straight ahead along a short, rock-lined footpath to a scenic overlook for your own private Kodak moment, then head back to the three-way junction. (Note: Novice hikers should head back from here. Only experienced hikers with good route-finding skills should attempt the loop.) Pick up “No-name Rim trail,” which heads north from a rock cairn just before the wooden post. This woodsy, 1.3-mile, mostly flat segment requires Sherlockian observation skills to follow; keep your eyes peeled for cairns among the toppled trees and pine needle litter. Where the path crosses drainages and a seasonal creek, the trail picks up directly across the dips. The start of Cookstove Trail No. 143 is not marked by a sign. Instead, sporadic cairns mark the way through a quagmire of rotting logs and volcanic rubble to a precipitous 0.75-mile descent. Once at US 89A, hike 1.3 miles back to the Harding Springs trailhead.

LENGTH: 4.15-mile loop
RATING: Full loop: difficult; Harding Springs only: moderate
PET RATING: **
ELEVATION: 5,400-6,800 feet
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 136 miles one way
GETTING THERE: From the “Y” intersection of SR 179 and US 89A in Sedona, veer right (northeast) at the roundabout onto US 89A, go 11.5 miles and park along the road between mileposts 385 and 386. The trail begins across from Cave Springs Campground at the forest service sign. Note: A Red Rock Pass ($5 daily per vehicle; redrockcountry.org/passes-and-permits/index.shtml) is required to park along the road. Passes are available at the Oak Creek Ranger station as well as many local merchants like Circle K. If you want to park in any of the campgrounds along 89A, there will be additional fees.
INFO: Coconino National Forest, Red Rock Ranger District: 928-203-2900, fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=54986&actid=50

phm1012 hg3 mdPOST-HIKE DRINK: Oak Creek Brewing Company
Rest your legs on the red-cobblestoned, green-canopied patio while feasting your eyes on the outdoor fountain or neo-cottage interior decor (lacquered tree-trunk tabletops, wooden bar stools, faux grapevines framing the windows) and knock back one of head brewer Jim Strelau’s award-winning beers (there are eight on tap). During “Hoppy Hour” (4-7 p.m. daily), beer lovers get $3 pints and $11 pitchers. The brewery hosts live music four nights a week, including Irish music on Mondays and “drum and dance party” Tuesdays. 2050 Yavapai Dr., Sedona, 928-204-1300, oakcreekbrew.com
Beer to try: Nut Brown Ale, a gold medal winner at the North American Brewers’ Association Competition, for its deeply nutty flavor and subtle spiciness.


Pets: Allowed on front patio

PRESCOTT

phm1012 hg4 mdWolverton Mountain-White Spar Peak
City of Prescott/Prescott National Forest
In Prescott – the town where the streets have multiple names – the same confusing moniker-muddling phenomenon attacks local trails and geographic landmarks. Case in point: the Wolverton Mountain Trail, aka the Sierra Prieta Trail and Forest Trail No. 9415, and simultaneously part of Prescott National Forest and the City of Prescott Circle Trail System. Confused? Don’t be. The lovely, pine- and chaparral-studded path is meticulously signed, heavily traveled, and close to civilization, so there’s little chance you’ll lose your way.

Lace up your boots at the Aspen Creek lot on Copper Basin Road and head across the road to Trail No. 48 (Aspen Creek Trail). Hike steeply uphill 0.4 mile to the turnoff for 9415 (Wolverton Mountain Trail) at the second junction. Note that the “9415” signs are located a few yards past the intersections, so make sure you locate them before making any turns. Along the way, two side trips make for interesting exploration. First up – just past the gate near mile 1.2 – a 0.5-mile dirt road heads left to a weather station below a high ridge on Wolverton Mountain affording views of Thumb Butte poking up into an expansive sky. The second detour is a highly recommended trip to White Spar Peak (aka Quartz Mountain). At roughly 2.5 miles, turn right onto trail 9415A and wind through a maze of old roads to a point just below the top of the snow-white quartz massif. Here, it’s easy to pick out informal footpaths that lead to the summit. (Hint: You should not have to scramble or use your hands to climb to the summit – if you find yourself doing so, locate an easier route.) Well worth the extra effort, the hike up White Spar rewards with 360-degree views of Flagstaff’s San Francisco Peaks, Bill Williams Mountain in Williams, the Verde River Canyon, and the local lakes, woodlands and Granite Dells.

LENGTH: 5 miles one way (7.6 miles with side trips)
RATING: Moderate
PET RATING: **  
ELEVATION: 5,600-6,694 feet
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 118 miles one way
GETTING THERE: From the AZ 69/89 junction in Prescott, continue 1.25 miles west on AZ 69 (becomes Gurley Street) to Montezuma Street. Turn left (south) on Montezuma (turns into AZ 89/White Spar Road) and go 1 mile to the light at Copper Basin Road. Turn right and go 4.6 miles on Copper Basin (turns to dirt after 1.6 miles) to the trailhead on the right, Aspen Creek Trailhead.
INFO: cityofprescott.net/services/parks/trails/?id=44

phm1012 hg5 mdPOST-HIKE DRINK:
Prescott Brewing Company
Looking to “tap” into your exotic side? Then hit the drafts at this husband-and-wife-owned brewery, which crafts more than 50 styles of beer annually (but offers nine at a time on rotating taps). Nearly every brewski reflects regional flavor, from the Manzanita Red Ale to the Pine Tar Stout. During happy hour (3-6 p.m. M-F and 10 p.m.-close daily), all regularly priced beers are $1 off. There’s a full food menu, too, offering beer-friendly fare like burgers, bangers and mash, and crispy fried pickles. 130 W. Gurley St., Prescott, 928-771-2795, prescottbrewingcompany.com
Beer to try: The medium-bodied Petrified Porter, bursting with chocolate tones and coffee flavor.
Pets: Not allowed

FLAGSTAFF

phm1012 hg6 mdSkunk Canyon
Although popular with mountain bikers, this trail has yet to catch fire in the hiking community. Why? It could be the malodorous moniker, or the fact that its only credible documentation is on the Emmit Barks Cartography Flagstaff Trails Map, where it’s denoted by a lonely red line in section D4. Squeezed into near obscurity by its proximity to popular – and more appealingly named – Sandy’s Canyon and the Walnut Canyon Passage of the Arizona Trail (AZT), this closed road/footpath offers an under-the-radar trek through sun-drenched meadows and a shady slot canyon. From the trailhead, stroll into a wide field following a double track Jeep route that’s now off limits to motorized travel. After roughly 0.25 mile, the track meets a crossroad; turn right and walk toward a white pole with a solar panel about 0.1 mile up the canyon. Near the 2-mile point, the trail dips into a narrow, damp ravine hugged by moss-embellished limestone escarpments pocked with trollish caves and surrounded by thick coniferous woodlands. Along this brief fir-shaded segment, displays of mushrooms, berries and sparkling crystals embedded in trailside boulders make interesting visual feasts. Once through the Mirkwood-dark forest, the path emerges onto yet another open meadow and continues a short distance to the unsigned “Y” junction with the Arizona Trail. From here, the hike can be extended by heading either left (north-ish) to connect with the Flagstaff Urban Trail System (FUTS) or, better yet, go right another 1.8 miles to Fisher Point, a scenic overlook above Sandy’s Canyon.

LENGTH: 5.2 miles roundtrip (8.8 miles roundtrip to Fisher Point)
RATING: Easy
PET RATING: ***   
ELEVATION: 6,720-6,920 feet (7,033 feet to Fisher Point)
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 149 miles one way
GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to exit 339, Lake Mary Road (Forest Road 3), located just south of the
I-40/I-17 interchange in Flagstaff. Turn right and go 2.1 miles south on Lake Mary Road to SJ Diamond Road on the left. Follow this traversable dirt road roughly 0.2 mile to the end, where there’s a small parking area and gate. Generic forest service and Game & Fish signs are posted, but nothing indicating Skunk Canyon; no worries, though – you’re in the right place.
INFO: Emmit Barks Cartography, Flagstaff Trails Map. Also helpful are sites on the Flagstaff Urban Trails System (flagstaff.az.gov/index.aspx?nid=1379) and the Walnut Canyon Passage of the Arizona Trail (aztrail.org/passages/pass_31.html)

POST-HIKE DRINK:
Flagstaff Brewing Company
Picture late Grateful Dead singer Jerry Garcia strumming a guitar on a patio, with a bandana-clad terrier at his feet, and you’ve pretty much nailed the vibe at FBC. The folks behind this brick facade welcome “beer lovers, dancing deadheads, and outdoor enthusiasts” who come here for the distinct craft brews (eight on tap), garlicky Stink Burgers (what better after a hike at Skunk Canyon?) and live weekend music from Arizona acts like jam band the Mojo Farmers and bluesy shack-shakers The Sugar Thieves. 16 E. Route 66, Flagstaff, 928-773-1442, flagbrew.com
Beer to try: Dark and creamy-headed Sasquatch Stout, a full-bodied, full-flavored brew imbued with chocolate overtones and served under nitrogen pressure for smoother taste.
Pets: Can be tied to the outside fence of the patio

phm1012 hg8 mdKachina Trail
Kachina Peaks Wilderness
The moody, massive mountains of Flagstaff are known to create their own weather, and that’s good news for the Kachina Trail. Its auspicious location on the moisture-generating windward side of the San Francisco Peaks means it’s quenched with summer downpours and dustings of October-onward snow that garner vegetation of rainforest proportions. Ivory-barked aspen clusters mimic white-out conditions, and hip-deep swaths of frothy ferns tumble over the slopes in vivid emerald waves that turn a rusty shade of orange when bitten by autumn’s first frosts. Add a cozy lava cave, epic views and a golden canopy of fall foliage, and it’s easy to understand why this hike ranks as one of Arizona’s best.

LENGTH: 10 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION: 8,600-9,500 feet
RATING: Moderate
PET RATING: ***  
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 155 miles one way
GETTING THERE: From Flagstaff, go 7.3 miles north on US 180 to Snow Bowl Road (Forest Road 516). Drive 6.6 miles up FR 516 to the signed turnoff for the large parking lot and trailhead on the right.
INFO: Peaks Ranger District, 928-526-0866, http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recreation/recarea/?recid=55112&actid=50

phm1012 hg7 mdPOST-HIKE DRINK:
Lumberyard Brewing Company

The owners of nearby Beaver Street Brewery opened this brewpub in a building constructed in 1890 by Flagstaff Lumber Company. After updating the pitched-steel-beam warehouse look, they set their sights on the more important task: crafting cool, refreshing beers to complement their mountain views. With six beers on tap, top-notch food, Thursday trivia nights, and “Country Weekends” featuring Friday dance lessons and $2.99 pints on Saturdays, Lumberyard’s the perfect post-hike hunker-down. 5 S. San Francisco St., Flagstaff, 928-779-2739, lumberyardbrewingcompany.com
Beer to try: The bold, hop-heavy Lumberyard Big Red Rapid Imperial Red Ale, rich with kettle and dry hops balanced by a quartet of malts.
Pets: Can be tied to the outside fence of the patio


phm1012 hg9 mdGriffith Spring
Coconino National Forest

Located 23 miles north of Sedona along scenic highway 89A, Griffith Canyon is the unsung chasm that makes its mark on the map by funneling water downhill into two of Sedona’s major gorges – Pumphouse Wash and Oak Creek Canyon. This wide, flat and easy-to-follow trail traces the edge of the cliffs above the marshy-green gulch. Where the route bottoms out, several obvious spur footpaths leave the main trail and squiggle into a steep-walled riparian corridor. Richly lined with wildflowers, Virginia creeper and wild roses, the exploratory paths wind through a mucky swale dotted with shallow pools, trickling channels and a tiny wetland ringed with cattails before dead-ending in a bog near a fenced stand of aspen sprouts.

LENGTH: 1.2-mile loop (1.7 miles with canyon exploration)
RATING: Easy
PET RATING: ***  
ELEVATION: 6,948-6,900 feet
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 152 miles one way
GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to exit 337 for US 89A south. Turn left (south) and continue 2.4 miles on 89A to the signed turnoff for Griffith Spring. The short, dirt/gravel road to the parking area is rutted but passable by sedan. From Flagstaff: go south on I-17 to exit 337 and follow directions above.
INFO: Flagstaff Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 928-526-0866, fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=70983

POST-HIKE DRINK:
Mother Road Brewing Company
The fun founders of this brewery describe their approach to brewing beer as “puckish,” and staff members take titles like “Chief Beer Officer,” “Head Yeast Whisperer,” and “Beer Avenger.” But the spartan environs of the tasting room (open 3-8 p.m. daily) embody a kick-back vibe more than a kick-ass vibe, complete with board games and a small library nook. There are typically three to five beers on tap, augmented by live music from acts like German folksters Polka Katzen and boplistic duo Jazz Leroux. 7 S. Mikes Pike, Flagstaff, 928-774-9139,
motherroadbeer.com
Beer to try: Twin Arrows Brown Ale, imbued with caramel flavor and designed to be paired with foods like cheese and barbecue or to add depth to recipes.
Pets: Welcome; the brewery even keeps dog biscuits on-hand.


WILLIAMS

phm1012 hg10 mdSummit Mountain
Kaibab National Forest
Summits are a signature feature of the mountain genus, but Summit Mountain delivers a particularly quintessential peak-conquering experience – without the pesky sore muscles and ravaged lungs. Ascending through thick broadleaf-coniferous woodlands, the trail is a cinch to follow, gaining elevation gradually via long, easy switchbacks. Trees lining the path seem to know when it’s time to move aside to reveal sigh-worthy views of the surrounding landscape, treating hikers to a continually-changing menu of eye candy. Near the top, the trail flattens out as it leads to a windy mesa with two excellent viewpoints. The first is a precipitous shelf of volcanic boulders teetering above the colorful and tumultuous gorge of Sycamore Canyon Wilderness. Here, a mixed bag of raw geological features spills out in a 180-degree arc resembling the frenzied canvas of a tortured artist. After exhausting your camera batteries, proceed toward the communication towers and a second (even more precipitous) cliff overlooking a pine-fleeced basin laced with dirt roads and railroad tracks in the shadow of Bill Williams Mountain. Because it’s a long drive to the trailhead for Phoenicians, consider combining this short hike with nearby Benham, Dogtown Lake, Davenport Hill or Overland Road trails for a greater return on your gas money investment.

LENGTH: 2.2 miles roundtrip
RATING: Moderate
PET RATING: **
ELEVATION: 7,147-7,797 feet
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 180 miles one way
GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to the I-40 junction in Flagstaff. Travel 27 miles west on I-40 to exit 165. At the off ramp, veer left and follow Railroad Road 2.6 miles through Williams to Fourth Street on the left. Drive 8.3 miles south on Fourth Street (aka Perkinsville Road, CR73) to milepost 177 and turn left onto FR 110. Continue 2 miles on FR 110 to the signed turnoff for “Summit Mountain Trailhead” at FR 2113A on the right. (Note: The forest service website and other sources call this FR 706, but it is not signed as such.) Turn right onto FR 2113A and go 0.5 mile (veer right at the 2111 fork) to the trailhead on the right. Roads are paved, dirt and gravel, and are all suitable for cautiously driven passenger cars.
INFO: Kaibab National Forest, Williams Ranger District, 928-635-5600, fs.usda.gov/recarea/kaibab/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=11653&actid=34

phm1012 hg11 mdPOST-HIKE DRINK:
Grand Canyon Brewing Company/Cruiser’s Route 66 Café
Go retro with ’50s and ’60s Mother Road decor (complete with old oil cans and bullet-riddled road signs) at Cruiser’s Route 66 Café, the serving space for eight beers on tap from next-door-neighbor  Grand Canyon Brewing Co., and home of a gift shop peddling roadside Americana kitsch like Betty Boop license plates and vintage Coca-Cola bottles. But there’s a modern side to this brewhouse, too, manifested in four flat-screen TVs and live music from the likes of classic rock cover maestro John Carpino and finger-picking guitar guru Steve Reynolds. 233 W. Route 66, Williams, 928-635-2445, cruisers66.com; 928-635-2168, grandcanyonbrewery.com
Beer to try: Horseshoe Bend Pale Ale, a blend of sweet hops and floral notes with a slightly bitter finish, reminiscent of Northwest pale ales.
Pets: Not allowed


TUCSON

phm1012 hg12 mdAspen-Marshall Gulch Loop
Pusch Ridge Wilderness

Half blaze-ravaged moonscape, half creekside woodland, this famously crowded loop hike makes for an interesting first-hand glimpse of the cycle of wildfire forest destruction and subsequent regeneration. Willowy, white-trunked aspens need abundant sunlight to grow and reproduce, and their natural life cycle includes succumbing to the shade and crowding brought on by encroaching conifers. But when wildfires clear the trees and open the forest floor to sunlight, aspens shoot up rapidly, and right now, they’re having a heyday on the slopes of Mt. Lemmon. A hike on the Aspen-Marshall Gulch loop showcases this miracle of nature in progress. The tour begins on Aspen Trail No. 93, progressing uphill through a patchwork of burned areas, fir woodlands and clusters of aspens. Soon, the path enters a dell of slender, alabaster-barked sprouts with vivid green leaves that rustle through a graveyard of charred pine stumps. Beyond this point, the route ducks in and out of scorched tracts and intact woodlands before emerging onto a sooty, snag-cluttered saddle. Here, the dramatic effects of recent blazes draw visceral reactions. It’s a charred and barren scab of a place. The trail gets a bit sketchy in this area, so watch for cairns leading up to the junction with Marshall Gulch Trail No. 3. Here, the route leaves the ashen badlands, passing through a labyrinth of stone before heading downhill and into another palette replete with creekside maples, ferns and alders rounding out the dichotomous flavor of this hike.

LENGTH: 5.1-mile loop
ELEVATION: 7,410-8,400 feet
RATING: Difficult
PET RATING: **
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 158 miles one way
GETTING THERE: From I-10 in Tucson, take Grant Road (exit 256) and go 8.7 miles east to Tanque Verde Road. Turn left and continue 3.4 miles to Catalina Highway, go left and drive uphill 27 miles through Summerhaven to the end of the road at the Marshall Gulch picnic area. All roads are  paved.
FEE: $5 Catalina Highway daily fee per vehicle
INFO: Santa Catalina Ranger District, Coronado National Forest, 520-749-8700, http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coronado/recreation/picnickinginfo/recarea/?recid=25668&actid=70

phm1012 hg13 mdPOST-HIKE DRINK:
Borderlands Brewing Co.
This brewery emphasizes “sustainable brewing” (no water waste, non-toxic cleaning chemicals, solar power, donating spent grain for compost) and the use of local ingredients like prickly pear from Arizona Cactus Ranch. Housed in an early 1900s warehouse building, the tasting room’s brick-walled, no-frills environs leave plenty of headspace to meditate upon what Borderlands means by “handcrafted in traditional Southwestern style” and their penchant for using techniques introduced by German settlers in the 1800s, like low-temperature fermentation. During tasting room hours (4-7 p.m. W and F, 12-4 p.m. Sa), nab three tap beers and a Borderlands glass for $12. 119 E. Toole Ave., Tucson,
520-261-8773, borderlandsbrewing.com
Beer to try: Milky-sweet Noche Dulce, a vanilla porter with a black body and a frothy head infused with cola and caramel flavors, but surprisingly smooth and light-bodied.
Pets: Welcome


BISBEE
Great Bisbee Stair Climb
Billed as “the 5K that feels like a 10K,” the Bisbee 1000 race melds the cardio challenge of huffing up nine sets of steep concrete stairs with friendly competition and a festive street fair atmosphere. Now in its 22nd year, this historic mining town event is open to everybody regardless of age or fitness level. Registration is required.
WHEN: Saturday, October 20, 2012
LENGTH: 4.2 miles
RATING: Self-paced
ELEVATION: 5,566 feet
INFO: bisbee1000.org

phm1012 hg14 mdPOST-HIKE DRINK:
Old Bisbee Brewing Company
Brewmaster Mindy Winquist attended Brewlab at Sunderland University in England and studied water profiles in breweries like Newcastle and Guinness, so she’s picky about what goes in her beer – ingredients must be garden-fresh, she says, because “beer is a cooking process too.” Hence, OBBC prepares fresh special yeasts for every batch of beer and uses only whole hops, serving up seven stellar beers in their renovated tap room building in Brewery Gulch. Those looking to imbibe late into the night should consider renting the “Brewery Avenue Suite” on the second floor. 200 Review Alley, Bisbee, 520-432-2739,
oldbisbeebrewingcompany.com
Beer to try: Belgian Whitbier, an unfiltered, refreshingly citrusy white beer made with three malts, four hops, bitter orange peel and coriander seed.
Pets: Welcome; the owners keep dogs at the brewery and have extra dog bowls for others’ pets.


JEROME-COTTONWOOD
Lagoon Loop
Dead Horse Ranch State Park
Short in length but jam-packed with eye candy, this wide dirt trail swings around a lagoon built by channeling Verde River water into a cove surrounded by colorful cliffs and views of the ore-rich hillsides of Mingus Mountain and Jerome. Level enough to accommodate strollers and wheelchairs, the trail skirts the banks of the lagoon for up-close encounters with ducks, chattering warblers and swarms of red-winged blackbirds. Higher elevations, cool breezes and easy access to restrooms, drinking water and shaded picnic areas make this a popular destination for fishing, camping and biking. For a longer trek, step out onto the adjacent, 2-mile Verde River Greenway Trail, where a strip of Arizona sycamores and Fremont cottonwoods show off a blaze of gold foliage in late fall.

LENGTH: Quarter-mile loop
RATING: Easy
PET RATING:   (dogs must be kept on a leash and out of the water)
ELEVATION: 3,300 feet
FEE: $7 daily per vehicle, $3 per person for walk/bike in
GETTING THERE: From Cottonwood, drive north on Main Street, turn right on 10th Street, and follow it to the park. From the park entrance, the trail is accessible from any of the lagoon parking areas.
INFO: 928-634-5283, azstateparks.com/parks/deho/index.html

POST-HIKE DRINK:
Arizona Stronghold
Winemakers Eric Glomski and Maynard James Keenan (singer of metal band Tool) opened their stylishly bohemian tasting room less than three years ago, and it quickly collected accolades. With crimson walls adorned with local art, Southwestern-style rugs and leather couches, the tasting room touches on a rustic rocker aesthetic while offering modern trappings like free Wi-Fi, live music from acts like prog rockers Black Forest Society and harmonious guitar duo Redland, and sippin’ deals like $9 tastings of five different wines. 1023 N. Main St., Cottonwood, 928-639-2789, arizonastrongholdvineyards.com
Wine to try: Dala Cabernet 2010, a ribbon-winner for red single varietal at the 2011 Arizona State Fair. Aged partly in French oak, with chocolate-berry aromas and a touch of mint on a full-bodied palate, the Dala Cab finishes rich with velvety tannins.
Pets: Not allowed


phm1012 hg15 mdView Point Trail
Prescott National Forest
A traipse through an archway of golden Gamble oaks sets the stage for the hallmark mountain vistas and brilliant foliage of View Point Trail No. 106. Beyond this grand entrance, the slender path begins its gradual descent along the east face of Mingus Mountain, weaving through a mixed bag of terrain including exposed juniper-agave high desert and pine-oak forests fringed with bigtooth maples. From the trail’s vertiginous vantage point, the towns of Jerome and Cottonwood appear like scribbles on a map far below, while the Verde River winds through a brown landscape on a lazy swath of green. Just past the 1.3-mile mark, at the junction for trail 105A, the route plunges into the canyon. Here, the hike rating goes from moderate to difficult as you clamber roughly 700 feet downhill on loose rocks to the turnaround point at Allen Springs Road. Casual hikers can opt to stay on the high road and make the junction their turnaround point instead.

LENGTH: 4 miles roundtrip
RATING: Moderate-Difficult
PET RATING: ** 
ELEVATION: 6,000-7,800 feet 
GETTING THERE: From Jerome, go 7 miles southwest on Highway 89A to Mingus Mountain Road (Forest Road 104). Turn left and continue on FR 104 for 2.4 miles to where it ends at a “T” intersection in the campground. Take an immediate left and park in the circular turnout near the “106” trail sign.
FEE: $5 per person daily fee (free on Wednesdays). Bring exact change for the self-serve permit kiosk.
INFO: fs.usda.gov/recarea/prescott/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=67357&actid=50

phm1012 hg16 mdPOST-HIKE DRINK:
Pillsbury Wine Company
Instead of taking a solo hike and then hitting the tasting room, how about taking a history-filled hike with fellow wine-hike enthusiasts? Pillsbury “party planner” Dana Borger and wine club president Justine Winchester want to take you on a hike of the “Jail Trail,” a mile-long, leaf-canopied jaunt to the Verde River named for the old jail building that now houses the visitor’s center. “It’s not a strenuous trail,” Winchester says. “It’s more about history.” Wrap up the learning-lap at the Pillsbury tasting room, a cozy cove with butter- and cabernet-colored walls. 1012 N. Main St., Cottonwood, 928-639-0646, pillsburywine.com
Wine to try: WildChild Red, a fruit-forward 70/30 merlot/zinfandel blend with aromas of cherry and blackberry, and hints of peach and walnut.
Pets: Allowed if leashed

SONOITA-PATAGONIA

phm1012 hg18 mdUpland Trail
The Nature Conservancy Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve
Located just 19 miles from Sonora, Mexico, in a valley hemmed in by southern Arizona’s 9,000-foot-high Santa Rita Mountains and sprawling San Rafael Valley grasslands, the pint-sized burg of Patagonia is home to more birds than people. The town has morphed from its origins as a mining/ranching hub to its current status as “artist hamlet” and world-renowned bird-watching destination. In addition to being a gateway community along state-traversing Arizona Trail, the town features several easy hiking trails that weave through and around town. But if you’ve come for the birds, take the Upland Trail. Managed by The Nature Conservancy, the easy path loops along a shady strip of riparian greenery along perennial Sonoita Creek, where more than 300 species of native and neotropical feathered friends fill the air with a symphony of bird songs.

LENGTH: 5-mile loop
RATING: Easy-Moderate
PET RATING: Pets are not allowed.
ELEVATION: 4,000 feet
GETTING THERE: In Patagonia, go north on Fourth Street to Pennsylvania Ave., turn left, cross a cattle guard and continue 0.5 mile to the trailhead on the right.
FEE: $5 per person ($3 for Nature Conservancy members)
INFO: The Nature Conservancy Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, 520-394-2400, nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/arizona/placesweprotect/patagonia-sonoita-creek-preserve.xml

phm1012 hg17 mdPOST-HIKE DRINK:
Canelo Hills Vineyard and Winery
Winemaker Tim Mueller, a Harvard- and Stanford-educated psychiatrist, left his job at Brown University to found Canelo Hills with his wife, Joan, in 2003. Nine years and 6.5 acres later, they’re producing a long line of award-winning wines, from grape-tastic cabs to peachy-pear-flavored, can’t-keep-it-in-stock malvasia. The tasting room is open from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, and boasts expansive views of the vineyards. 342 Elgin Rd., Elgin, 520-455-5499, canelohillswinery.com
Wine to try: Estate Syrah 2008, a bronze medalist at the 2011 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, and a floral, black plum-nosed garnet vino with a smooth tannic finish.
Pets: Vineyard owners have dogs and welcome others’ dogs.