OSMP Flagstaff Fire - Photo Gallery
Watch an interview with OSMP Forest Ecologist, Chris Wanner, on the Flagstaff Fire area and associated trail closures.
The Flagstaff Fire started on June 26, 2012, from a lightning strike on the west side of Bear Peak, near Bison Drive. The fire burned approximately 300 acres, mostly on the west sides of Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak (see photo at left), and the upper part of Shadow Canyon. Some parts of the burned area remains closed to visitation to protect visitors from hazards, such as falling trees; and to minimize erosion of the very fragile burned soils.
These photos were taken by OSMP staff as they assessed the effects of the fire.
OSMP is opening the burned area to on-trail use as quickly as possible, but only after conditions have been assessed and required mitigation is completed - one area / trail at a time. These changes will be announced here on our web site. For the very latest on what trails are open, please visit our Area Closures page.
Update: the Bear Peak West Ridge trail was re-opened on November 13. It is now possible to visit the burn area on a loop hike that follows Fern Canyon, Bear Peak West Ridge and Bear Canyon trails.
Some hand-dug fire lines area still visible and need to be rehabilitated (see photo at left). Fire lines may look like trails, but hiking on them can cause severe resource damage and can also be dangerous.
Just a month after the fire, plants were already regenerating, particularly woody perennials like Oregon holly grape, buckbrush and kinnikinnick. Many Front Range plants are adapted to fire, with deep roots that survive searing temperatures. Many plants will resprout this fall. Seeds that survived the flames will also sprout next spring and cover the bare hillsides with new growth.
But the rocks and soils will remain very prone to erosion.
These photos show how July’s rains washed unprotected soil and gravel from the slopes onto the Shadow Canyon trail, which will need maintenance before it can be reopened. Once the visitor closure is lifted, it is essential that hikers stay only on designated trails to prevent severe resource damage.
Below - the saddle, where the Shadow Canyon trail joins the trail to Bear and South Boulder Peaks.
Like most fires, the Flagstaff Fire didn’t burn with a uniform intensity: some places burned hotter and more completely than other areas nearby. This creates a mosaic of conditions after the fire, providing different opportunities for the plants and animals that will re-colonize the forest.
Some species favor the most intensely burned areas, while others prefer places that were only lightly burned. The unburned forest will act as a seed bank to repopulate the burned areas.
Below - a Hairy Woodpecker inspects the burned trees for insects. Dead trees provide habitat for many forest animals.
Seven weeks after the fire, many plants are resprouting from the ashes and charred soil. Spreading dogbane is even blooming and attracting butterflies.
This panorama taken from the summit of Bear Peak looking west shows the full extent of the fire.
Last Updated on Thursday, 15 November 2012 09:15