Easy to visualize but hard to fathom how any group of people would not only live on a cliff side rim but thrive. The Island Trail provides a close up look at this historical site. The trail drops 185 feet over a series of steps. Once down to the “island” part of the trail the path is quite easy. That is until the climb out. The Island Trail is a paved hike but runs close to the cliff edge. Those with vertigo might have difficulty though there is nothing to be fearful of.
The Island Trail takes its hikers past 25 of the ancient cliff dwellings. Last occupied more than 700 years ago by a group of Puebloan community. Getting a chance to walk in their footsteps is a cultural treat. However, one wonders why would any soul choose to live in such a precarious situation. On a cliff. Water hundreds of feet below. The series of ladders and steps they would have to climb day in day out to just to survive. Amazing feat of human ingenuity and will power.
As a high school history teacher, I enjoyed the trek. It is always a wonder to experience the things that I teach about in class. On this particular hike, I get to travel the trail with a group of my students. Though they are not the most inclined to enjoying a history lesson they liked the Island Trail. I have always felt it is better to get out and experience history than read about it. Getting to see their curiosity be sparked by getting up close and personal to some cliff dwellings was a treat.
This trail was one of the highlights of my time in Flagstaff, Arizona. Unfortunately for Walnut Canyon National Monument it had nothing to do with the historical experience it had to offer. I got to see just how great some of guys I took on this trip are. One of them has a healthy fear of heights. He braved the walk down but he gripped the railing a little tight. One the railing was gone he kept in close contact to the cliff wall. When a wall or railing was not handy some of the other guys would help him out to get him through it. As a coach you always hope that you have a close team that is willing to help each other out when it counts. It is another thing to actually experience them do it.
Island Trail is the must do part of any visit to Walnut Canyon National Monument That is as long as you are healthy and able to do it. At 7,000 feet of elevation make sure you take some precaution in going up and down the steps. Water and taking your time when taking this short trail will help make the Island Trail a nice little hike.
To see our reviews of other hikes like Island trail click here
Trailhead located behind the visitor center
Plan about 30-45 minutes to hike
Difficulty- Easy to Moderate but the altitude is nearly 7,000 feet
for more information about Walnut Canyon National Monument you can go to https://www.nps.gov/waca/index.htm
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