Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hiking Trails in Happy Jack, Arizona

Happy Jack is a small town and camping area east of Sedona, Arizona. Positioned in the Mogollon Rim Region, Happy Jack offers access to a variety of local hiking trails and wilderness areas. While the mountains of the Happy Jack area offer plenty of hiking opportunities, some of the most striking vistas can be found by driving a few miles outside of town.
The area of Happy Jack sits at an elevation of approximately 7,500 feet above sea level in Coconino County. One of its prominent attractions is the Happy Jack Lodge and RV. Located on an old logging camp, the lodge offers 72 acres of camping along the tall ponderosa pines of the Mogollon Rim. Many of the trails available to modern hikers were developed from old logging trails, offering a network of footpaths to lakes located within a 20-mile radius of Happy Jack, such as Long Lake, Lake Mary and the Blue Ridge Reservoir.
Happy Jack Trail
This trail offers a significant long-distance hike with a variety of lakes and canyon views. While campers might be tempted to trek the full 30 miles, day-hikers will probably opt to hike the trail in sections. The Hike Arizona website recommends beginning at the trailhead located at the intersection between Highway 87 and Farm Road 138. Follow the trail north pass hay Meadow Tank and into Jack’s Canyon, where it joins Farm Road 93 before turning right past Fire Line Tank and into Willow Valley. After cutting through miles of forest, the trail turns west to circle Bargaman Park before finally reaching Farm Road 135D and following it north of Maxie Tank to Allan Lake Landing. Although the trail is considered relatively easy, with an elevation gain of 1,257 over 30 miles, the estimated time to complete it is 10 to 15 hours.
Devil’s Bridge
Devil’s Bridge is a much shorter hike located between Happy Jack and Sedona. This trail offers stunning vistas of the largest natural stone arch in the Happy Jack area. To begin, leave Sedona on State Route 179 heading toward Cottonwood. Take a right on to Dry Creek Road and follow it for three miles before turning right on to Farm Road 152 for another 1.3 miles, until you reach the parking area. The Devil’s Bridge trail will take you a mile up the ridge for an elevation gain of 400 feet. As you approach the arch, you’ll notice a fork in the trail where the path heads in two directions: on top of the arch and underneath the arch. Although the view from the top of the arch is worth the climb, you should practice caution when walking near the edge.
Bell Rock Pathway
Bell Rock is another popular hiking destination for outdoor enthusiasts. To get there, follow Route 179 out of Sedona until you find signs leading to the Bell Rock parking area. Follow the wide dirt road called the Bell Rock Pathway for three and a half miles as it approaches Bell Rock. This mountain is distinctive for its large, bell-shaped rock formation, and offers additional adventure and challenges for rock climbers.

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