Have you ever seen an alligator in Arizona? You might and yet not recognize it. We aren't talking about the 4-legged large-toothed swamp-dwelling reptile, of course. The alligators along this short connector trail are instead among the oldest species of trees in the southwest. FR 9495F boasts impressive specimens of the alligator juniper, so named for the dark checkered bark reminiscent of the swampy reptilian's skin. The Coconino National Forest is known mostly for its vast stands of Ponderosa pines, and there are plenty of those along the short stretch of almost parklike forest alongside FR 9495F. But a combination of elevation and soil type supports a beautiful stand of alligator juniper as well. These trees can live for 700 years, and a few of the large gnarled alligators along the trail might be approaching that level of longevity. FR 9495F is a short trail and easy to dismiss as just a connector to more substantial tracks. But take a moment to enjoy the centuries-old Arizona alligators along the way.
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