Trail Gate

Trail Gate

The annual fall “Take a Hike!” program sponsored by the Highlands Center for Natural History always features trails around the Center. This year’s hike starts on Homestead Trail #305, follows Forest Road 9401T to connect with Gold Pan Trail #444, and returns to the Center via Highlands Trail #442. This 2.3 mile hike is considered easy, although there are lots of ups and downs from a low elevation of 5,410 feet to a high elevation of 5,580 feet. I was pleased to discover that some trees and shrubs now have identification markers. This year’s trail guide points out areas where the understory brush has been removed. Known as “mastication,” the mechanical removal of vegetation, this is one of many fire management treatments used by the Prescott National Forest to restore natural habitats and forest health.

New construction is underway near the Highlands Center. Every time we visit, I enjoy viewing Heather Johnson’s “Equipoise” sculpture. She uses four animals to symbolize four elements of creation: a raven for air, a badger for earth, a horned lizard for fire, and a roundtail chub for water.

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