I don’t consider it an accomplishment to go up Bear Mountain. With my gallon of water, jackets and hiking poles I was passed by a man well into his 60’s without poles and wearing shorts. But who’s noticing?
Bear Mountain’s on the west side of Red Rock country. It’s a 2,000′ gain in elevation over 2.6 miles. Going through the red Schnebly Hill sandstone is rough. It’s like walking up a collapsed staircase. That’s because the Schnebly around Bear is quite vertical, and the trail has to wind through crevasses.
But then you reach the Coconino sandstone. Much better. Now, though the Coconino is covered with powdery sand that feels like walking up sugar, but, it’s still a gentler hike to the top.
And that top… Very nice. You can see for miles. You can see the whole Verde Valley. You can see the San Francisco peaks by Flagastaff. You can see the Bradshaws by Prescott where begins the Basin and Range region of the Southwest, though it’s not part of the Great Basin.
On Bear’s top stubby ponderosas grow amidst pinions and junipers whose shadows shield melting snow from sun for weeks. Though cold winds can make dripping sweat sting your skin, these views atop Bear are perfect for riding out your endorphin high before descending back through rock rubble.
My photos don’t convey the emotions you feel seeing such views. But I always try to make my photos do this. That’s why photography’s fun.
And it would be equally fun to continue northward atop Bear for miles to get bird-eye views of Fay Canyon, Boynton Canyon and East Hartwell Canyon. Didn’t do it this hike. But that’s something else to look forward to.