Saturday, September 17, 2011

Walnut Canyon Rim Trail

The Rim Trail at Walnut Canyon National Monument is a 0.75 mile loop that overlooks the area of the Island Trail and has an excavated mesa top pueblo ruins site of the Sinagua people. Walnut Canyon is 10 miles east of Flagstaff on Interstate 40 in northern Arizona. Besides the Rim Trail, Walnut Canyon also has the 1 mile Island Trail that descends into the canyon and passes many small alcove ruins sites.

The trail is paved and the walking is easy. Besides the views into Walnut Canyon and the many small alcove ruins sites, the Rim Trail identifies many of the diverse plant communities that occur in this lush environment.

One of the plants I noticed here that I haven’t seen in other Four Corners canyon areas is Fernbush in the Rose family.

One of the highlights is the two room pueblo building. This type of structure represents the architecture used by the Sinagua around 1100 AD. The Sinagua people farmed the mesa top area, growing corn, beans, and squash. They also gathered acorns and pinion nuts, and hunted large and small game.

Across from the two room pueblo is a structure described at a pit house. This represents an earlier form of dwelling and may have later been used for storage.

In the vicinity of the two room pueblo, there is also an unexcavated site that appears as a pile of rubble. The interpretive information says that there are many sites like this in the Monument area that are being left undisturbed for now.

There is an interesting example of the diversity of plant life in the Walnut Canyon area along the Rim Trail. At one spot the Utah Juniper, Oneseed Juniper, and Rocky Mountain Juniper are growing side by side. The Utah Juniper is the most common in the Four Corners area and the Rocky Mountain Juniper grows commonly in places that are a little moister. The Oneseed Juniper is not as common and is recognized by having many limbs rising from the ground rather than a distinct trunk. There is also an example of the Alligator Juniper growing along the Island Trail.

My hike on the Rim Trail was in early September and took 0:25 minutes.

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