With winter withering away and summer emerging, exploring the great outdoors becomes a priority for many tourists. There are hundreds of trails to explore around northern Arizona, and hikers and cyclists alike no longer have to wait for them to be clear of snow.
George Jozens, the deputy public affairs officer for the Coconino National Forest, said that one does not have to venture far from Flagstaff to dive into nature.
Buffalo Park hosts a variety of trails, and it is one of the most popular destinations within the city limits. According to Jozens, some trails near mount elden are closed off due to helicopter logging in the Dry Lake Hills Area.
Fatman’s Loop Trail is one of the most used in Flagstaff as it is one of the easier ones near the city. Even with its location, mule deer and grey foxes are frequently seen on this hike. This trail leads to a much more strenuous hike known as Elden Lookout Trail. Jozens said that there are parts where the trail inclines to 45 degrees.
“It is the steepest trail we have in the forest, so it is very difficult,” Jozens said.
Additionally, Jozens said that Rogers Lake County Natural Area has two trails for hikers and bikers. The Gold Digger Trail is 4 miles long and has a ramada with rainwater collection for birds, and the Two-Spot Trail is 2 miles long that gives visitors a great view of the wetlands.
“With the water present there it is absolutely gorgeous,” Jozens said.
According to the United States Forest Service (USFS) website, the Campbell Mesa Trail System is an easy hike that should take three to four hours to complete. Everyone from hikers, cyclists, and skiers enjoy theses trails year round.
This trail system is surrounded by Gambel Oak-Ponderosa Pine, diverse wildlife, and breathtaking views of Mt. Elden, Anderson Mesa and Mormon Mountain.
There are five loops in the trail system, offering a variety of length and difficulty for trail enthusiasts. Sinagua Loop is the shortest one which is about a mile long, and the Continental Loop is not much longer as it is barely 2 miles. The Continental Loop has a great view of the Rio de Flag and Walnut Canyon Lakes.
Next is the Anasazi Loop which measures at 2.7 miles, and the Walnut Meadows Loop stretches to 4 miles. Taking this trail grants the hiker with a beautiful view of Mormon Mountain and Anderson Mesa. The longest trail is the Campbell Mesa Loop at 5.7 miles long.
The Sycamore Rim Trail has five different trailheads that give hikers access to this unique system. According to the USFS website, the northern and western sections travel through Ponderosa Pine forests. Meanwhile, the southern and eastern portions of the loop follow the rim of Sycamore Canyon.
Jozens warned that bikes are not allowed in the wilderness area and advised that visitors should double check where they are permitted to bike.
Sycamore Falls also attracts rock climbers as well, and previous experience is highly recommended before scaling these mountains.
Walnut Canyon National Monument has two short trails to explore and allows visitors to look into the past. This National Monument is home to the ruins of the Sinagua who inhabited the area hundreds of years ago. The Rim Trail is a quick 0.7-mile-long hike that goes around the rim and passes through the preserved structures of the Sinagua. The Island Trail goes into the canton for about a mile and encounters over 20 ruins.
The Grand Canyon also has a variety of trails. Nicholas Brown, a recreation specialist with the North Kaibab Ranger District, said that Rainbow Ridge is one of the most popular trails in northern Arizona.
“People love to hike and bike through the 22-mile-long trail, it’s a great experience,” Brown said.
Located along the north rim of the Grand Canyon, it offers a different view places such as Powell Plateau, Steamboat Mountain, Tapeats Amphitheater and Great Thumb Mesas, as well as the Mt. Trumbull region of The Arizona Strip. The trail passes through the Ponderosa Pine Forest and drops into steep canyons filled aspens and small meadows.
For those looking for an immersive wilderness experience, Brown recommended the Kanab Creek Wilderness. This trail is in the middle of an intense desert environment and is not for the lighthearted adventurer. However, the remoteness is unmatched.
“I love the landscape,” Brown said. “There is beautiful scenery along with great archaeological sites that you can visit too.”
Brian Grube, the assistant director of Coconino County Parks and Recreation, said that trails are an essential fabric to the Flagstaff community.
“Trails are conducive to a healthy community because people are surrounded by nature while they exercise,” Grube said. “It brings people in the neighborhood closer together and attracts visitors from all over the world.”
He added that trails challenge people to get out of their comfort zone and push people to explore and admire the local wildlife.
Jozens had some wisdom to give to trail enthusiasts before they explore the great outdoors.
“Make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks, you need to be as prepared as possible,” Jozens said.