FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Kachina Trail is a rugged high-elevation trail, but a beautiful hike as it takes hikers through a ton of aspen trees and wonderful views.
The hiking trail less traveled is sometimes the better selection. Flagstaff nature photographer Lisa Viotti recently found that Kachina Trail was not accessible due to a storm because too many trees were obstructing the pathways.
The trail has since improved, but a sign at the trails entrance warns hikers that trees are blocking parts of the trail.
Viotti started on the trail only to be pelted by hail and she was fighting bitter cold. Rather than yield to the day's weather, Viotti went across to the left to another hiking spot across the road.
"It was so eerie with fog and seemed ethereal at times," she said. "It was a perfect hike for October, rather spooky."
Viotti's new trail was also littered with hundreds of broken trees.
"I found the experience to be a tough, but rewarding one," she said.
The trail experience was almost like seeing a friendly ghost.
"It was spooky, unusual, but visually stunning," she said.
Both trails offer a large amount of tree cover once hikers get into the wooded area, which is shortly after they leave the parking lot. Viotti found the alternative trail to be easy but rocky and uneven.
Viotti called the views along the trail "amazing."
A return trip to Kachina Trail found it more passable. Kachina Trail is 4.9 miles one way or 9.8 miles round trip, but hikers can turn around any time. Several hiking books rate the hike as hard.
It is rocky in many places. The trail starts at about 9,300 feet, but dips to approximately 8,800 feet with many ups and downs along the way.
Fir, spruce and aspen keep hikers covered, but the aspens are the eye-catchers.
Several of the trees are too big around for somebody's arms to reach around them. The fall leaves hadn't changed yet, but that will happen extremely quickly.
Ferns are also abundant in some places along the trail. Mule deer and elk are found in this area.
After 1.5 miles, the trail drops into a drainage going past cliffs and boulders. At this point, there are more ponderosa pines then aspens. More meadows pop up as the hiker goes along.
Varying views will continue to awe the eye. No water was found during this hike so bring a good amount based on how many miles you plan.
The trail ends at the historic Weatherford Road. Kachina Trail is part of Coconino National Forest.