Realty Executives of Flagstaff

Serving Flagstaff, Arizona since 1977

Realty Executives of Flagstaff


Flagstaff Adventures: Stand Inside an Ancient Volcano!

(Published on - 4/18/2024 6:19:56 PM)

Nestled along the picturesque landscape of northern Arizona just outside of Flagstaff, the Red Mountain Trail beckons adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike to immerse themselves in its awe-inspiring beauty. Located at milepost 247 off US-180 this hidden gem offers a captivating journey through ancient volcanic terrain and panoramic vistas that will leave you spellbound. This 2.7 mile out-and-back trail is considered an easy hike with a gradual incline into the amphitheater-shaped center of an erupted volcano. It begins with a gradual uphill climb through a field of scattered junipers and piñon pines. For the most part, you’ll be surrounded by open country, which allows for some wonderful panoramic views of the San Francisco Peaks to the northeast, as well as Red Mountain right in front of you.

A Trail of Geological Marvels

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Red Mountain is one of several hundred cinder cones within a large volcanic field that stretches from Williams to the canyon of the Little Colorado River. What’s unusual about Red Mountain, which rises 1,000 feet above the surrounding landscape, is that its internal structure is exposed — like a massive geode that’s been cracked in half. This one-of-a-kind trail takes you into that core, an area known as the amphitheater. Erosional pillars called “hoodoos” decorate the amphitheater, and many dark mineral crystals erode out of its walls. Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Northern Arizona University scientists suggest that Red Mountain formed in eruptions about 740,000 years ago.


Spectacular Scenery and Wildlife

One of the highlights of the Red Mountain Trail is its stunning scenery, which showcases the diverse beauty of the Arizona wilderness. Along the way, you'll be treated to panoramic views of the San Francisco Peaks, lush ponderosa pine forests, and expansive meadows teeming with wildlife. Keep an eye out for native flora and fauna, including wildflowers, birds, and small mammals that call this pristine landscape home. The last half-mile of the hike follows a normally dry streambed. The trail leads to unique black lava formations and red rocks, with a ladder at the end to get hikers up an approximately 6 foot rise. If you look down at the sand, you’ll see thousands, even millions, of black shiny granules, some of which are as big as golf balls. These granules are often mistaken for “Apache tears,” which are composed of obsidian, the volcanic glass that was highly valued by ancient cultures for crafting arrowheads, knives, scrapers and other tools. But don’t be fooled. What you’re actually seeing are the crystals of minerals (pyroxene and amphibole) eroded from the volcano. Once you get into the amphitheater, take a closer look at the walls and you’ll see more of these minerals embedded in the cinders. Eventually, they’ll be plucked out by water and wind erosion. Light plays hide and seek among the spires and hoodoos, and so can you. Be watchful as you scramble up these formations -- most are a lot easier going up than down!

Cultural Heritage and Indigenous Connections

The areas surrounding the Red Mountain Trail hold significant cultural importance for indigenous communities, particularly the Hopi Tribe. For generations, the Hopi people have revered the land as sacred, honoring its spiritual significance and ancestral connections. As you hike through this ancient landscape, take a moment to reflect on the rich cultural heritage of the region and the enduring legacy of the indigenous peoples who have called it home for centuries.

Tips for Trail Exploration

  • Trailhead Access: The Red Mountain Trail is located at milepost 247 off US-180, approximately 18 miles northwest of Flagstaff. Look for designated parking areas and trailhead markers to access the trail.
  • Trail Conditions: While the trail is generally well-maintained, it's essential to be prepared for variable terrain and weather conditions. Wear sturdy hiking shoes, dress in layers, and carry plenty of water and snacks for the journey. Trees in the natural amphitheater provide some shade.
  • Leave No Trace: Help preserve the natural beauty of the Red Mountain Trail by practicing Leave No Trace principles. Pack out any trash, stay on designated trails, and avoid disturbing wildlife or vegetation.


The Red Mountain Trail at milepost 247 off US-180 near Flagstaff, Arizona, offers a captivating journey through ancient volcanic landscapes and breathtaking vistas. Whether you're seeking adventure, solitude, or a deeper connection to the natural world, this hidden gem promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you inspired and rejuvenated. So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and embark on a memorable journey to discover the wonders of the Red Mountain Trail for yourself. As you look around, remind yourself that you’re actually standing inside an ancient volcano. It’s a rare opportunity.

And when you're passing through historic downtown Flagstaff, stop into our building for a map and local information on the area and the housing market!

Realty Executives of Flagstaff

15 E. Cherry Ave., Flagstaff, AZ  86001




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