To do: Find those fall colors in Williams
Seven hikes to celebrate fall in northern Arizona
WILLIAMS, Ariz. -- Whether you are a resident looking to soak in the autumn ambiance or simply a tourist seeking a great fall getaway destination, northern Arizona will surely fit the bill. Here are seven great places to take in the beauty of the fall season in Williams.
Keyhole Sink Trail, 1.3 miles
This .6 mile trail provides a glimpse of beautiful forest vegetation on an easy to hike to a scenic box canyon. Prehistoric residents left their mark carved into the canyon’s gray volcanic walls roughly 1,000 years ago. The petroglyphs left behind suggests that the area was important to that ancient communicator as a hunting ground. This area is also an excellent place to encounter wildlife. While you’re visiting the Keyhole Sink Trail, please respect the irreplaceable traces of the past that you find along it. Leave them undisturbed so that others may enjoy them as you have.
The trail traverses easy terrain through a ponderosa pine forest. The return trip from Keyhole Sink is over the same trail.
Access: From Williams, take I-40 east to the Pitman Valley exit #171. Turn left and cross over the Interstate. Proceed east (right) on Historic Route 66 for about 2 miles to the Oak Hill Snowplay Area. The trail begins across Rt. 66, on the north side of the road. Please park in the lot provided. From Flagstaff, take the Parks exit #178. Turn right (north) and then turn left (west) onto Historic Route 66. Drive west for about 4 miles to the trailhead.
Clover Springs Trail, 2 miles
Looking for a short stroll through the woods before breakfast? The Clover Springs Trail might be the one for you. The trail is a series of short loop walks through thick ponderosa pine forest with colorful oak trees. A nice loop is to begin at the trailhead just west of the ramadas at Buckskinner Park and walk the Buckskinner Trail to the Clover Spring Loop Trail clockwise and return to Buckskinner Park. The 2-mile hike will take about an hour to walk.
These trails also offer the hiker access to the mountain and the Bill Williams Mountain Trail from the city of Williams. Clover Spring is a small seep once developed as a domestic water supply which now provides water to wildlife.
Access: From Williams go south on 6th Street and follow the signs to Buckskinner Park. The trail begins just southwest of the picnic shelters.
Davenport Hill Trail, 4.8 miles
Looking for a moderate trail to hike and don’t mind getting your car a little dusty? The Davenport Hill Trail begins at Dogtown Lake and provides a moderate hike through the Gambel oak and ponderosa pines for 2.4 miles. The trail ascends 755 feet with easy switchbacks before getting steeper after crossing FR 717. The trail provides hikers with views of Bill Williams Mountain and Dogtown Lake.
The trail ducks into a sheer canyon shaded with moss-draped Douglas and white firs. The slim path traverses the canyon walls, landing hikers on the final uphill haul where picture-perfect views of Dogtown Lake and Bill Williams Mountain dominate the horizon. Once past a second gate, the trail emerges on the summit ridge for a short, flat walk to the high point.
Follow the same trail back to the start. From the trail, you can enjoy scenic views of Dogtown Lake and the country around Williams.
Access: From Williams follow Fourth Street or Perkinsville Road for 3.8 miles to Forest Road 140. Turn east (left) onto Forest Road 140 and travel 2.8 miles to Forest Road 132. Turn north (left) on to Forest Road 132 and go to the campground (about one mile). From the boat ramp parking area, walk the Ponderosa Trail to the east end of the loop.
Benham Trail, 7.6 miles
If you are up for moderately difficult day hike up through ponderosa pines, oak thickets and aspen stands, head to the Benham Trail. Beginning near the base of Bill Williams Mountain, hikers have good views of the mixed conifer forest and distant San Francisco Peaks.
The route can be done by hiking one way up if a pick-up is arranged at the top of Bill Williams, 3.8 miles, or the route can be extended by coming down the north side of the mountain on the Bill Williams Mountain trail for a total hike of about 8.5 miles.
Access: From Williams drive south on Fourth Street for 3.5 miles and turn right on to FR 140; proceed about 0.3 mile to the trailhead.
Kendrick Mountain Trail, 9.3 miles
This is a beautiful, more strenuous fall hike to one of the highest vistas in northern Arizona. At Kendrick’s 10,418 foot summit, you can see the Grand Canyon to the north, the San Francisco Peaks to the east and Oak Creek Canyon to the south.
In addition to the impressive scenery, it’s a good place to see wildlife, especially elk and mule deer. The trail starts in the ponderosa pines and climbs into the mixed conifer forests of Douglas fir, white fir, Engelmann spruce and corkbark fir within the Kendrick Mountain Wilderness.
Just below the mountain’s summit, you’ll see an old cabin. This is a preserved lookout cabin, built in the early 1900s that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Past the old cabin is a fire lookout tower.
Almost all of the 4.6 mile trail is within the Kendrick Mountain Wilderness Area.
Access: The trailhead can be difficult to find. From Williams, take I-40 east to the Parks exit 178. Drive north over the overpass and turn left on Old Route 66. Turn right on to Spring Valley Road. Follow Spring Valley Road 8 miles . Turn right continuing north on FR 194 for about 4.5 miles to FR 171. Turn right onto FR 171 and go 2 miles to FR 190. Turn left onto FR 190 and go 1 mile to the parking area. Road Condition: Paved road and high-clearance dirt roads.
Bill Williams Mountain Loop road, 30 miles
For those interested in a scenic fall drive, the Bill Williams Mountain Loop road is not to be missed.
Leaving Williams, head west on Railroad Avenue and turn left onto Fourth Street which turns into Perkinsville Road. Follow the road 6.5 miles to Forest Road 108, the Bill Williams Loop. The well-maintained cindered road winds through the ponderosa pine forest with wide-open meadows to bestow views of Bill Williams Mountain and array of fall colors. After 2 miles, the area opens up at Coleman Lake, more like a marsh-like meadow.
At mile 8, there is a turnoff to the Stage Station Trailhead, and the forest dips into pinyon-juniper habitat with more views of Bill Williams Mountain and the red, orange and yellow leaves of the oak and aspen trees.
After about 18 miles, the road ends at Interstate 40 which takes drivers back to Williams.
Not up for getting back in the car? Downtown Williams, including the Grand Canyon Railway and many back streets are full of gorgeous deciduous trees displaying their fall colors. Within walking distance of most motels and RV Parks, the streets of Williams are a treasure trove of autumn splendor.
More information about hiking is available on the Kaibab National Forest website or by downloading hiking apps such as alltrails.com and gaiagps.com. More information about Williams can be found by visiting the Williams Visitor Center at 200 W. Railroad Ave. or visiting experiencewilliams.com
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