When winter gives way to spring in Sycamore Canyon ― a 55,937-acre gash in the earth not far from Flagstaff, Arizona ― the transition may be anything but subtle. Or quiet. Depending on weather conditions, the snowmelt may cause writhing, roaring waterfalls and glistening deep pools this month.
"It seems like you're in a wild, secluded place," park ranger Earl Bassett says of Sycamore Falls ― one of the canyon's larger natural wonders ― and the blue-green hills surrounded by miles of ponderosa pines.
For a grand overlook of the canyon and surrounding Kaibab National Forest, hike along the moderate 11-mile Sycamore Rim Trail loop. Catch the sight while you can: The falls will vanish with the summer heat, replaced by an onslaught of fearless rock climbers.
Info: From Flagstaff, take I-40 west to Parks Rd. (exit 178) and turn south; the road becomes Forest Rd. 141. Continue 13 miles, turn south onto Forest Rd. 109, then go another 3½ miles. Turn left and drive to the trailhead. For updates on water flows and road conditions and to pick up a map, stop by the Williams/Forest Service Visitor Center (corner of Railroad Ave. and Grand Canyon Blvd., Williams, AZ; 928/635-4061).