New Verde Valley hiking trails show off views all the way to Flagstaff

Just a few miles north of Camp Verde, Arizona, Wet Beaver Creek cuts a meandering course through high-desert plains and sparse mesas on its way to the Verde River. For thousands of years, the perennially flowing stream has been the life blood for peoples who settled near its green corridor.

The communities of Rimrock and Montezuma Lake are the most recent to evolve around the reliable water source. The tiny towns are a mix of ranch homes, antique shops, cafes and honey stands that sit at the hub of several important heritage sites off Interstate 17.

Until last year, out-of-town visitors had few reasons to do anything but drive through the creek-side hamlets on their way to somewhere else, but a new system of hiking trails now tempts travelers to park and stay awhile.

The Wickiup Mesa Trail System, which sits on 700 acres of Coconino National Forest at the far southeast edge of the towns, is the result of years of effort by the Beaver Creek Trails Coalition — a volunteer organization dedicated to creating and sustaining trails in the Beaver Creek area — in cooperation with the forest service.

Situated in a landscape of striking contrasts, the trails meander in a place of sprawling flatlands, fractured cliffs and mountain vistas. A strong undertow of earthiness guides visitors through spotty juniper-cedar forests, cactus-dotted grasslands, moist drainages and roughed-up washes on the highlands above the creek’s leafy riparian ecosystem.

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