It’s been a mild autumn so far with very few hard freezes. As a result, the fall color season continues even at the higher elevations. Last week we rode our mountain bikes on the Arizona Trail from FR418 south to Snowbowl Road. This is one of my favorite sections of the Arizona Trail because—among other reasons—it passes through several large stands of aspen trees.
Aspens typically grow in large clonal colonies derived from a single seedling. Thus, each stand or colony of aspen have a strong tendency for their leaves to change color at the same time, while a nearby stand may change either earlier or later.
The aspen have been at their peak color for about a week now. In just a few more days the leaves will fall or be blown away and another fall leaf season will come to an end. We didn’t want to miss the show so we rode our mountain bikes up the Inner Basin Trail to the Waterline Road to enjoy the fabulous colors.
A few years ago the upper portions of the Inner Basin trail underwent some re-routing and the trail now twists and turns through a near surreal stand of aspen as it ascends from Lockett Meadow to the Waterline Road. The landscape has been described as a Monet-like scene when the leaves turn colors in the fall.
Here are a few photos from that day. It just doesn’t get any better than this: beautiful fall colors, mild temperatures, clear skies, and light winds.
Continuing with the thread in the previous post we have more images of fall colors in the Oak Creek Canyon area. This time, we explored a small side canyon known as Harding Springs. Although there is a trail, we chose to walk up the dry wash since the best colors were on trees in and near the stream bed. And we actually found a small trickle of water in a single location.
Later that day we hiked to the top of a rock formation known as Napoleons Tomb in Sedona so that we could watch the (nearly) full moon rise in the gap of Cathedral Rock. To make the image even better, hikers fortuitously positioned themselves in front of the moon. I wish I could say that I orchestrated this but it was just chance!
It’s that special time of year in northern Arizona. The thunderstorms and cloudy days of the summer rainy season are history and have been replaced with day after day of perfect weather. Warm days. Cool nights. Cloudless skies. Light winds.
And, of course, the leaves are changing colors.
It’s mid-October and the colors have hit their peak at the higher elevations of the Kachina Peaks. Lower down, the colors are quickly approaching their peak. But it won’t last long. All it takes is one windy day or another hard freeze and it will be over for this year.
I took some time early this morning wandering around the aspen along Snowbowl Road and found some groves in full color. Interestingly, a few groves were still green and a few others were already done. But most were hitting that perfect peak.
Autumn has brought wonderful colors to the flora in West Fork Oak Creek Canyon this year. The mouth of this canyon, located between Flagstaff and Sedona, lies at an elevation of about 5400 feet. With its narrow width and high walls, sunlight is strongly filtered before reaching the canyon floor. This produces a micro climate that is much cooler than would otherwise be expected for a location at this elevation.
The result is that there is large variety of flora in this canyon dominated by pine, maple, oak, and sycamore. And when the shorter and cooler days of autumn arrive the colors on these trees can be magnificent.