Open Space


The peaks are green behind airport instrumentation in this monsoon season. This large bit of national forest land features a network of single and double track.

I spent most of my life living "east of the Mississippi." There are substantial differences between living in the eastern United States and the western United States. One of those differences is the relative absence of development in the west. Consequently, it's possible to go for a hike or bicycle ride in the woods without having to travel in a car for a long time to get off pavement and into wildlife habitat. This is probably what I like most about living in Flagstaff.

I've been aware of an area of open space near the airport for several years. I also rode my bike around the area a few times without going into the patch of forest and meadow, but a recent news item stoked my interest. There is a parkway that is currently disconnected and will soon be connected by cutting through this particular green space. It was time to go have a look at it before the road construction begins.

Decorative vehicle blocking . . . blocks. These were obviously positioned at one end of J.W. Powell Blvd. to prevent people from driving motorized vehicles into this bit of forest and prairie. You can see it was used as informal campgrounds in the past.

The area isn't pristine. There are some aviation instruments installed, I suspect related to the Instrument Landing System for the airport. It's also an area that used to be frequented by people free camping - it's US Forest Service land. The entrances for vehicles are now blocked with boulders and logs and signage forbids camping and motor vehicles. That said, it's a lovely bit of pine forest and prairie that offers sweeping views of the inner core of the San Francisco Peaks as well as more distant views of Woody Mountain and possibly some other peaks. The monsoon has been healthy this year and the wildflowers were blooming, although I found it strange there were no sunflowers. I also saw a variety of birds and some lizards.

Mount Elden from the gated maintenance road that leads to the airport instruments.

Wildflowers were blooming!

I looped around the area, trying to fully explore it as much as possible. The double and single track lead throughout the property. Being unfamiliar with the area, I didn't follow every available path. If/when I go back, I will follows paths to try to get a clear view of the airport runway.


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