An easy and enjoyable hike near Flagstaff, Arizona, Rocky Ridge trail is actually a section of the Arizona Trail. It is 2.8 miles in length and climbs from 7,191 feet to 7,587 in elevation. The trail begins at Schultz Creek parking just off Schultz Pass road and passes through warm south-facing juniper and pine forest with an interesting mix of cacti. Along the upper reaches of the trail you find Gambel Oak and more Ponderosa pine. Besides hikers, this trail is a frequent single track route, connecting to Oldham trail, Brookbank trail, Mount Elden Lookout road, and can be used to access Flagstaff through Buffalo Park.
For a quick hike today, I entered the trail at the 2.3 mile marker, partway up Mount Elden Lookout road, and headed south toward the Schultz Pass trailhead. The trail lives up to its name, and although having some very smooth stretches, passes through many rocky areas as it follows the base of the Dry Tanks Hills near Mount Elden.
Arizona’s iconic Saguaros respond to the seasons as do other Sonoran Desert plants, but they have a unique system for coping with desert heat and uneven moisture. During the rainy season their accordion-pleated sides expand to hold as much water as possible for the dry times ahead.
Once the desert temperatures reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the mature Saguaros begin to produce abundant waxy white flowers.