Hart Prairie


Hello again my dear readers, today I have a new group of images from the area around Hart Prairie. As I’ve mentioned before, a large part of the actual “prairie” is closed to the public, but there is plenty to do and see without needing whatever special permit will get you in the gates. The large, open fields are right on the western foothills of the San Francisco Peaks, and as you’ll see in my pictures, they act as a fairly dominant landmark.

I started my outing in an aspen-y area south of the meadows, which (though short on wildflowers) was bustling with new greens, chirping birds, and many thankfully unintrusive bugs. The afternoon sun played through the canopy and, as is characteristic of aspens, gave the understory a very open glow.

From the aspens I drove north on a dirt road (you should see my poor car), stopping here and there to take in the expansive views. After a while I came across a trailhead for Bismarck Lake, which I hadn’t heard of before. The trail was only one mile, though, so I gave in to curiosity and headed out. After a short while through dense pine and fir woods everything opened out into a pasture, clearly used for grazing cattle. The open space and the cloudless sky really gave a sense of distance to everything, and the persistent cool breeze made the level hike quite pleasant.

At the end of the trail was a sign denoting Bismarck Lake, but it took some looking around to actually find it. The dry winter had not been kind to its water level; I don’t think it was more than a foot deep. Nevertheless the water was clear, and I think it was worth the short hike. Across the lake toward the peaks was the Arizona Trail, which bisects the state from top to bottom. Part of this trail runs near the entrance to Walnut Canyon, another planned destination, so it was interesting to have a kind of continuity here.

I don’t think I’ll be getting out again today, I picked up some kind of bug in Phoenix which has left me coughing and sniffling. Hopefully tomorrow will be more workable, I’d like to get out to Sunset Crater for some geological fun. The family is coming up this weekend, and another trip to the Walnut Canyon monument is on the schedule. I’m excited to see what it looks like in spring finery, the last time I was there autumn was just starting to brush the trees. So, I’ll leave you with that, hopefully I’ll have a new post for you in the next couple days!


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