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A Local’s Guide

The Best Hiking Trails Near Flagstaff

Nature lovers who enjoy treading along nature’s paths to take in the beauty of the desert will love what Northern Arizona has to offer. From ponderosa pines to volcanic caves, there’s so much to see! Travelers who won’t mind staying a while will have the most fun as there are a multitude of trails from which to choose, each ideal for each guest depending on your desired difficulty, skill level and time needed to hike.

Bill Williams Mountain Trail

First off is a trail within Kaibab National Forest that the lone explorer seeking peace and tranquility would love. This 7-mile trail that’s only a stone’s throw from downtown Williams stands to be the one less taken and is perfect for beginning to experienced hikers with mild to moderate trails.

This picture perfect panorama begins a mile from downtown at the Wiliams District Ranger Station. As you continue your hike, with each mile you’ll witness the thickening of the green, lush forest. Trails are well marked to help you easily make your way to the top. Some of nature’s beauties you’ll encounter along the way include but are not limited to Clover springs, wildflower patches, oaks, pines and juniper. Don’t be surprised to find butterflies fluttering alongside you.

This trail is also great if you want to bring along your furry friend on a leash or go mountain bike riding.

You won’t be disappointed when you reach the mountain peak as you witness a clear 200-mile radius of colorful landscape around Flagstaff & Williams that meets the skyline.

Sycamore Rim Trail

Hidden in Kaibab National Forest is a thin, flat trail surrounded by grass and adorned with picturesque views. This moderate 15-mile trail is easily accessible with multiple access points. You can easily hike the entire trail, chose the north and west points to hike to ponderosa pines or the eastern and southern points to hike along the rim of Sycamore Canyon.

On a typical hike, you will pass by beautiful rivers and streams and lush foliage. Sycamore Rim trail also leads to a canyon waterfall that runs into a pool of green water.

But take caution as there are rocky areas, and don’t forget to wear your hiking boots.

Benham National Recreation Trail

Hidden between the conifers of Bill Williams mountain, Benham trail, about 4 miles from Williams, is a beautiful 5.8 mile trail. Surrounded by greenery, you will have a superb and vast panoramic view of the forest. As you ascend the mountain amongst cool temperatures, look for aspens, spruce, Garland prairie and Finger Rock pinnacle laced with pine trees.

This trail is considered moderate and somewhat less challenging than Bill Williams trail because it employs switchbacks that make the ascension easier than it would be otherwise.

Davenport Hill Trail

This 5 mile trail begins at Dogtown Wash and then ascends to the top of Davenport Hill. It’s a moderate hike with a scenic view of fir, oak and Ponderosa pine. This trail with a nice, cool temperature also provides a view of Dogtown Lake, where visitors can fish for various types of fish.

Dogtown Lake Trail

Perfect for beginners and expert hikers, this Kaibab National Forest trail is named for the prairie dogs that once dwelled along the areas by the lake. With this 2 -mile trail, you can expect much less height than the typical mountain trails. This makes it great for the entire family, experienced hikers and novices.

In addition to hiking this tree-clad lake view trail, you might enjoy bringing some fishing gear to fish for channel cats, trout and crappies in the lake. Nature lovers also appreciate the campgrounds.

Fat Man’s Loop

About 40 minutes away from Williams near Flagstaff lies a short but beautiful trail clad with colorful and unique flora. Fat Man’s Loop is a moderate 2.5-mile hike that begins somewhat strenuously and then flattens out after a mile or so. When you reach the end, you won’t be disappointed as you’re met with an incredible bird’s eye view of Flagstaff.

Slate Mountain Trail

Located in the Coconino National Forest of Northern Arizona, Slate Mountain trail is a 4-mile ascension suited for hikers of all levels. The hike is pretty easy and it’s not a steep incline to the top. During your hike be sure to look out for some impressive views. Marvel at the San Francisco Peaks and the deep ponderosa pine forest.

Bear Jaw Trail

If you’re up for a challenge, consider this trail to test your physical agility while taking in a breath-taking view. You’ll enjoy a quiet ambiance as the trail doesn’t come with heavy traffic. The beautiful wildflowers, green pines and bright yellow aspens make the strenuous trudge to the top worthwhile. You may even get a glimpse one of the black bears that live in the forest.

But this trail can get even more challenging if you decide to take a turn for the 7-mile Abineau trail. Be sure to come prepared. This trail is bound to work up a sweat.

Lava Tubes

This unique 1.5-mile underground cave made of lava that was formed hundreds of thousands of years ago is bound to pique the adventurous spirit. This trail is easy and made for beginning and expert hikers. Though you won’t witness the typical scenery of colorful flora, you can search for some unique finds like the left-over solidified ripples and bubbles in the lava.

Even more breath-taking is the huge room with a tall ceiling you will find where the two tubes join.

Be sure to pack some flashlights as this underground tunnel is not well lit.

Kachina Trail

This 10-mile beauty near Flagstaff is worth the hike if you’re up for the challenge or you can opt for a shorter distance and still take in the peaceful atmosphere and visual wonders. As you progress, you will tread deeper into a wilderness of aspens and pine trees. From Kachina, you can also view the volcanic mountain known as San Francisco Peaks. Moreover, though it’s rare, it’s been known for hikers to spot a deer or two.

This trail is perfect for all seasons. The spring brings a picturesque scene that will entice all 5 senses while the winter snow creates a perfect winter wonderland.

Bismark Lake Trail

This 17- mile dirt trail is ideal for challenge seekers. In addition to the opportunity to test your physical strength, you will find it’s laden with flora and fauna that will make you want to stay. From wild deer and elk to thick foliage and colorful blooms, you’ll have a clear mountain view of nature’s perfection. Though aesthetically pleasing, hikers may find this trail to be generally secluded, making it a peaceful getaway.

Inner Basin

Now that you know just how much fun nature lovers can have in Williams and Flagstaff, the only trouble lies in choosing where to begin. Each trail represents a specific level of difficulty and its own stunning characteristics. Just remember to come prepared and to keep furry friends on a leash.