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Nice Boulders, Nice Figure (8)
My hiking partner and I did a really nice figure eight on the PATS - Payson Area Trail System.
The Boulders are gorgeous trails with geological beauty abounding. I won't need to revisit Monument Peak Loop as I found it lackluster in any of the details I enjoy on hikes. Although it did offer solitude and a good workout so not all was lost.
The nearly ten miles are mostly easy peasy with the toughest parts being little steep sections of loose, fine, gravel. On some occasions, I questioned whether my hiking partner wore roller skates. A nice grippy shoe and trekking poles improve chances of avoiding the ol' slip n slide.
One would want to pay attention to the trail markers, as this area is interwoven with multiple ATV trails, MTB trails, horse trails, and various offshoots, most unmarked. If you stay attentive you'll have no trouble finding your way.
On the topic of wildlife, aside from the varied avian population that loves this area (jays, hawks, finches, peckers), we didn't see much for ground travelers, despite prevalent scat. I suspect sitting quietly near some of the seasonal creeks or near the two springs we crossed would result in seeing lots of critters.
My favorite sections of this area would be the massive, artistically placed (nice) boulders (arranged by that famous decorator Ma Nature), the tree canopies that arch over certain sections of the trail, and the little trickling springs and creeks which I know flow stronger during optimal precipitation periods. It's been dry in Rim Country so water was nearly non-existent.
As for flora and foliage, had we hit this a few weeks earlier, we'd have been treated to pockets of autumn color.
One other stroke of luck on what I suspect to be a busy area during weekends (horses, ATVs, MTBs, hikers are all allowed) was that on this weekday, we passed only five (the 2-legged variety) coming out as we went in, one on trail and 2 resting at the exit. We only heard one ATV in the distance and one car near the road on the Monument Peak stretch. Other than that, solitude was ours, and horse pucky was limited.
The weather started at 930am at a brisk, wear-your-flannel and ended at 2 pm with a damp shirt and I was thankful to have worn shorts.
Another great day crunching rocks and huffing clean air in beautiful Rim Country! This loop-di-loop had a nice figure (8).
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