Coconino National Forest: Devil’s Bridge

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Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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The Coconino National Forest surrounds the towns of Sedona and Flagstaff in Arizona with landscapes ranging from red rocks and deserts to pine forests. We were staying in Sedona for part of our Arizona vacation and had stumbled upon the Devil’s Bridge hike when researching things to do in the area.

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It didn’t occur to us at the time that this striking red rock terrain was actually part of a national forest, so we didn’t find the Devils Bridge webpage.  Instead, we asked at our hotel about it and they pointed us in the general direction with a map. Even with the map, we had a hard time finding the trail head at first. There is trail head parking just off Vultee Arch.

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There is an easy green trail marked on the map at the trail head. There is also a moderate blue trail and difficult red trail. The trails are not themselves marked by color. We opted for the easy trail.

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The easy trail is the dirt road just before the parking lot that the jeep tourism companies use. It is uphill, sandy, hot and dry…so ‘easy’ is a relative term. The whole 3-mile hike was a piece of cake for my husband (who runs Spartan Races) but not so much for me and my daughter.

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In three-quarters of a mile, the dirt road meets up with the path to Devils Bridge. From there, it becomes more difficult. It’s another climb of about three quarters of a mile with some steep natural stone steps and very little shade.

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There are wonderful views of the valley and surrounding mountains on the way up.

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The natural bridge is a 50-foot high sandstone arch and looks perilous as you approach it, but it’s wider than it appears as you walk out on it. Fearless people do jumping jacks for selfies in the middle of the bridge.

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I stood there long enough for a photo, fighting the urge to crawl back to safety, trying not to look down at the sheer drop on either side of me.

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To see my other Sedona posts, click below:

  • Devil’s Bridge
  • Bell Rock (coming soon)
  • Chapel of the Holy Cross (coming soon)

Location: Devil’s Bridge Trail, Sedona, AZ 86336

Designation: National Forest

Date designated or established: 7/2/1908

Date of my visit: August 23, 2014

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Flathead National Forest: Middle Fork Flathead River

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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We spent Day 4 of our Montana trip with Glacier Guides and Montana Raft Company. In the morning, we had hiked to Avalanche Lake inside the park (read about that here.) In the afternoon, we regrouped at the Glacier guides headquarters in West Glacier where we met up with our guide Ryan for a scenic float trip on the Flathead.

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The Middle Fork Flathead River is a 92 mile river that forms the Southern boundary of Glacier National Park and the Northern boundary of Flathead National Forest. The Flathead is designated a National Wild and Scenic River.

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The waters are pure and a haven for native Bull and Cutthroat Trout. The colorful rocks found here and around Glacier National Park are called Argillite. They range in color from red to green, depending on the heat and pressure they were exposed to during formation.

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We shared a raft with another family from Los Angeles. We floated peacefully downstream, conversing with them and Ryan.

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We put in around West Glacier where the river was wide open. As we traveled downstream, canyon walls rose up dramatically around us.

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We landed about 5 miles south of where we’d started, by the Blankenship Bridge.

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Location: West Glacier, MT

Designation: National Forest, Wild and Scenic River

Date designated or established: 1976

Date of my visit: 6/25/2018

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Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest – Natural Bridge Interpretive Trail

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

The Rogue River–Siskiyou National Forest was originally two separate forest units covering parts of Oregon and California. They were combined into one unit in 2004. The Rogue River is a US Wild and Scenic River, also managed by the US Forest Service.

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We stopped at the Natural Bridge Interpretive Trail on our way from Crater Lake to Grants Pass. There are restrooms in the parking lot and it’s just off the main road.
A short trail leads to a raging section of the Rogue River, which shoots through some lava tubes and comes out the other end as a waterfall…a natural wonder.

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We were exhausted from a full day of hiking and exploring in Crater Lake National Park, so this was an excellent place to stop on our approximately 2-hour drive  back to our hotel.

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It was an easy 1/4 mile walk to the natural land bridge from the parking lot with a level, wide path, benches and interpretive displays along the way. It was just enough for us to stretch our legs, take some photos and move on to the next stop.

For those interested in a more in-depth exploration of the area, the interpretive trail does connect to the Rogue Gorge Trail and Upper Rogue River Trail.

Location: 9 miles North of Prospect, OR

Designation: National Forest, Wild and Scenic River

Date designated or established: 2004

Date of my visit: 8/25/2016

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Flathead National Forest-Whitefish Mountain

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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The Flathead National Forest covers over 2.4 million acres of which about 1 million acres is designated wilderness. Pinchot, the first chief of the US Forest Service, promoted ‘managed conservation’ (rather than preservation like the NPS) for our public lands, allowing for responsible, partial commercial use of National Forests.

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The 1.4 million acres of Flathead National forest which are not designated a wilderness area are used for two ski resorts, logging, limited berry harvesting and cattle grazing.

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Our flight landed in Kalispell, Montana in the early afternoon. Not quite ready to take on Glacier National Park, we headed over to Whitefish Mountain Resort. Whitefish Mountain Resort is inside the boundaries of Flathead National Forest, which shares its Northern border with Glacier National Park.

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We rode the ski lift to the Summit House. We had a choice of open chair lifts or enclosed gondolas. We opted for the open chair…photo opps always take precedence over being warm. It was 57 degrees Fahrenheit and windy at the summit.

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The Summit House opened in 1990 and houses a nature center with a Forest Service Education Center in the basement. We stopped in the gift shop for a souvenir pin.

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Outside, we took in the views of the surrounding Rockies and Flathead Valley. There was still quite a bit of snow, even in late June. We walked a little on some of the clear trails at the top, enjoying the smell of pine that wafted in the air.

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We’d intended to hike the Danny On trail back down to the lodge, but it was closed due to snowy conditions. The Danny On Memorial Trail is a National Recreation Trail, with the shortest route to the base lodge being 3.9 steep miles. This is why the trail is closed when ice and snow are present.

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So we improvised and took the chair lift halfway down the mountain. The best views were on the lift ride down the mountain. Then we rode the alpine sled back down to the lodge.

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Location: 3808 Big Mountain Rd, Whitefish, MT 59937, USA

Designation: National Forest

Date designation declared: 2/27/1897

Date of my visit: 6/22/2018

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