Veit Springs is my oldest Arizona friend. It’s the first trail I ever hiked in the state. As a freshman at NAU, I was on my way to English class one exquisite October morning when I glanced toward the San Francisco Peaks banded with yellow. Suddenly, nothing else mattered. Not Twain, not Faulkner, not even Kerouac. The aspens had turned. I rounded up two like-minded scofflaws and we headed for Veit Springs, a short loop curling through lavish groves of the white-trunked trees and their vibrant canopy of heart-shaped leaves. Past a historic cabin and gurgling springs, at the foot of a basalt cliff adorned with pictographs, sits a field of sprawl-friendly boulders. For the rest of the afternoon, we lay draped atop the rocks like we had been poured there. Shafts of sunlight streamed through the rustling patchwork of lemon and saffron above us, and every breeze triggered the soft fireworks of fluttering golden leaves.
The trail begins as a gentle climb along an old Jeep road to a small preserve. This 160-acre tract was homesteaded in 1892 by Ludwig Veit. It’s now managed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and is known as the Lamar Haines Memorial Wildlife Area. Elk and deer are common sights mornings and evenings. The road soon narrows to a path and reaches a fork at 0.2 miles. Take the loop clockwise. Just before reaching a plague honoring Haines, a Flagstaff educator and environmentalist, a spur trail leads to the tumbledown remains of Veit’s cabin and two small springhouses. Veit Springs makes a great kid-friendly hike with easy walking and plenty of nooks and crannies. Follow the cliff around to the left to discover a few red-orange pictographs, estimated to be more than a thousand years old. Just below the rock art, a collection of big, comfortable boulders are spread among the aspens. Hooky recliners, I call them. If you see a middle-aged guy with a loopy grin stretched out atop a rock, pay him no mind. He might be a travel writer hard at work."
Source: Roger Naylor "Boots & Burgers: An Arizona Handbook for Hungry Hikers"
© 2018 John Morey Photography