1 Photoset

South of the Airport, AZ
2011-08-1213 by
South of the Airport, AZ  
Mtn Biking    5 Hrs       0.00 mph
No Route Match
1st Trip Logged
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Don't know the mileage or the elevation, since my odometer was not reset, but I estimate 20-25 miles. It doesn't matter, as it won't count for yearly totals and I did this to explore.

I did a ride down Lake Mary Road, took a right on FR 867, then a right on 867A, a left on 3E, left on 762, then down 762D, then took a big graded road west until I got fed up with the cattle and grazing and went cross country to 762L, back east on 762 for a while, then out to the asphalt by I-17 and Mountainaire. Back east on 762, north on 707 and took that to the Old Munds Highway, and then home on 89 A. A long, tiring ride. Don't know what it is about bike riding, but it is far more tiring than hiking. I'm not sore, I'm just tired.

The entire area south of the Airport, north of Mountainaire, and between I-17 and Lake Mary Rd is, for Ponderosa Pine, the finest the entire Coconino NF has to offer. I mean it. For the appearance of the trees, the density, the diversity and condition of the herbaceous layer, and the overall size of the area, this is the best as I have seen. There may be other really nice areas that are similar or better, but I haven't seen them. That said, I have lived in Flagstaff for 5 years now, and I just "discovered" this area yesterday. Shockingly, too, since it is so close to my home and so easy to access. I actually think it would be a nice spot to camp in, for a local resident or a visitor, and I saw some of that.

A big part of what makes this area so nice, as compared to adjacent and similar looking areas, is the lack of grazing. Grazing destroys the ponderosa pine herbaceous cover. A barbed wire fence and a cattle grate are all that separated the two areas, but the difference is huge. In the ungrazed area, there is a high diversity of grasses that are healthy and there are a lot of wildflowers and wildlife that come with these things. In the grazed area, everything is eaten down, the grass looks bad, there are basically only two grass species that look alive, and there are virtually no wildflowers. The cows probably crush everything they don't eat, as the areas they congregate looks to be the worst. Hopefully, the nice areas won;t be grazed anytime soon. The FS plans to open grazing allotments back up on the San Francisco Peaks, so I won't be surprised if this areas is destroyed by cattle again.
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
Let it SNOW!!! above 5500'.

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