Realty Executives of Flagstaff

Wayne McCormick

Wayne McCormick


Realty Executives of Flagstaff


Hiking trails: Flagstaff trails receive national acclaim

(Published on - 11/11/2015 7:44:18 PM)

Flagstaff, Arizona is an international popular destination as a training location for runner's in preparation for athletes competing in Olympic Games. Canadian triathlete Simon Whitfield, Gold Medal Winner at the 2000 Olympic in Sydney has used the Center for High Altitude Training at NAU in preparation for 2008 games. During Mr. Whitfield's stay in Flagstaff in February he noted a luxury many locals have known about for years...  "Ten minutes out on the Urban Trail and you're in the middle of no-where in some Alpine Meadow", "that's good for your soul," Whitfield said.
Flagstaff is now getting attention nationally because of its running trails. Trail Runner Magazine named Flagstaff one of the "Top 7 Trail Towns" in the U.S. and Canada while Runner's World is featuring Flagstaff as a destination running spot in its "On the Road" feature.  Both stories can be found in the magazines' September issues.  In the Trail Runner article it states "you want to train in a town that will take your breath away - both with it's gorgeous views and lack of oxygen". "Trails leaving right from town plug into a lattice of loops on public lands, long and short, all in the shadow of the fantastically abrupt, snow-capped San Francisco Peaks", the article reads. The story mentions four trails in Flagstaff and another near Sedona.

Two tunnel trips – in one

The Tunnel Trail and the 'tunnel of color' in Weatherford Canyon can start from the same parking spot.
By Randy Wilson
It's going to be busy this Saturday up at Schultz Pass. The annual Soulstice Run uses Schultz Tank for overflow parking and the leaf-peepers will be out in force.
So here's a hint: Avoid the congestion and try the Kachina Trail from the Snowbowl side of the Peaks. But that means you would miss out on two of the highlights of any fall foliage season in Flagstaff: The Waterline Road (aka, the Tunnel Trail) and Weatherford Canyon (aka, the Tunnel of Color).
Fortunately, each can be accessed from a side road off Schultz Pass, avoiding the hassle of parking at Schultz Tank. In fact, we use the same parking spot for both trips.
The road is marked on maps as FR 146, and it is about 250 yards east of Schultz Tank on the left. The road heads uphill for about a quarter-mile before crossing a gas pipeline corridor. Then, in about 200 yards, a rock campfire circle will appear on the left, with parking for about four or five cars. Signs marking the Kachina Peaks Wilderness boundary are just behind the campfire ring (no bicycles allowed).
For Weatherford Canyon hikers, this is an alternative trailhead to Schultz Tank. The trail starts just beyond the wilderness signs, and it enters the bottom of Weatherford Canyon in less than a mile. The doghair aspens (dating back to the monster winter snows of 1967-68) were in full color this past Sunday afternoon, making for one of the most spectacular displays on the Peaks.
Hikers can follow the trail up the canyon for a mile to where it intersects with the Weatherford Trail. But for those mainly interested in color, I recommend stopping after about a half-mile, then turning around. The view coming downhill through the tunnel is even better than going up.
Back at the parking spot, cyclists can continue up FR 146 for another half-mile, where they will encounter the gate marking the start of the city's controlled access to the Waterline Road. The road, which is closed to private vehicles, rises gently for nearly 10 miles to the Inner Basin, with stunning groves of golden aspens this past week starting at about the 4- or 5-mile mark.
We usually go only as far as the rock tunnel at about the 2.5-mile mark -- the views of Doney Park are impressive and it is a walkable distance for those without bikes.
A bonus for those with a willing driver is the one-way downhill ride on the Schultz Creek Trail -- just have the driver who loses the coin toss meet the cyclists at the trailhead near Elden Lookout Road. This Saturday might prove congested, however, so better to wait until Sunday if the weather holds up.
As for the Tunnel Trail trip, cyclists can use the road despite the locked gate. But they should be aware that city crews use the road during weekdays to travel to the Inner Basin wellfields. That means no barreling downhill around blind curves -- unless you want to wind up on the front grill of a city maintenance vehicle (or over the side of a very steep cliff).

If you go...

Tunnel Trail and Weatherford Canyon

Stay on Schultz Pass Road for 250 yards past Schultz Tank until reaching FR 146 on the left. Head up the road for a quarter-mile, crossing the natural gas corridor, then park about 200 yard farther in a small campfire site on the left. The trail to Weatherford Canyon starts at the back of the campfire site.
To reach the Tunnel Trail (also known as Waterline Road), continue up the road for another half-mile to a locked gate. No private vehicles are allowed, but hikers and cyclists are welcome. A rock tunnel is 2.5 miles beyond the gate, and large groves of aspens crowd the road in about 4 or 5 miles. The Inner Basin, which was in full color last weekend, is 10 miles from the gate.

Hiking to Red Mountain

Where: From Flagstaff, take U.S. 180 northwest about 30 miles. Turn west onto the dirt road at Mile Marker 247 and follow it 0.3 mile to the parking area at the trailhead.
When: Spring, summer and fall are best.
Admission: Free
Facilities: None
Length: Two-mile round trip
Difficulty: It’s a fairly easy hike, but scrambling around within the basin can be tough.
Elevation Change: About 150 feet.
Highlights: The central section of the mountain is a geologic wonderland, an earthly landscape of orange, black, ocher and gray tuff, eroded into strange shapes and unlikely hoodoos, somewhat reminiscent of Bryce Canyon in Utah.
Insider Tip: The large, well shaded area at the center of the inner basin is an ideal spot for a picnic lunch.

Hiking the Kendrick Peak Trail

Offers hikers an impressive view of the San Francisco Peaks.
Where: From Flagstaff, drive about 16 miles northwest on U.S. 180. Between mile markers 232 and 233, about a mile north of the Flagstaff Nordic Center, turn west on Forest Road 193 and proceed about three miles to Forest Road 171. Bear right and proceed two miles to Forest Road 190. Bear right again and proceed about half a mile to the trailhead parking area.
When: Spring, summer and fall are the best times to hike
Facilities: Restroom
Admission: Free
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: Eight-mile round trip
Other uses: Equestrians permitted. Dogs on leashes OK.

Hiking the Sunset-Brookbank trails

This loop provides peeks of the peaks near Flagstaff.
Where: From Flagstaff, take U.S. 180 northwest about three miles to Schultz Pass Road. Turn north and proceed 5.2 miles to the signed turnoff to the Sunset Trail. The parking area is about 0.1 mile south of Schultz Pass Road. Only the first three-quarters of a mile of Schultz Pass Road is paved, but the remainder is easily passable with a high-clearance vehicle.

When: Summer, fall and spring are best
Admission: Free
Facilities: None
Length: 5.5-mile loop
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous. Although the gradient of the trail is fairly mild, it’s easy to get winded at this elevation.
Elevation Change: 900 feet

Highlights: For desert dwellers, there’s nothing more glorious that a high-country stroll through ponderosa pine, spruce and aspen. Throw in views of the San Francisco Peaks and easy, post-trek access to the bistros of Flagstaff, and you’ve got an unbeatable summertime adventure.

Insider Tip: For a far more challenging hike, take the Sunset Trail at its junction with the Brookbank Trail and continue about 2.5 miles to the Elden Lookout Trail.

Hiking the Old Caves Crater Trail

Hike tours the volcanic fields
Where: From Flagstaff, drive east on Interstate 40. Take exit 201 and go north on Country Club Drive about a half a mile to U.S. 89. Turn right and proceed about four miles to Silver Saddle Road. Turn east and go about half a mile to the parking area, which is on the north side of the road.
When: Year-round
Facilities: None
Admission: None
Difficulty: Fairly easy
Length: 2.4-mile round trip to overlook and back, about a 3-mile loop to summit and a return the back way.


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