Climbing & Hiking Trails - 13 min read

15 Hiking Trails In Flagstaff (Beautiful Landscapes & Dog-Friendly)

Alex Frick

Alex Frick, Updated October 16, 2022

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On the shoulder of the historic Route-66 remains the precipitation desolate, yet beautifully exquisite town of Flagstaff, Arizona. Surrounded by the ancient geology of the Sonoran Desert, Flagstaff is a four-season hub for the yearnings of all adventurers.

With rock formations formed over the span of billions of years, Flagstaff is central to miles of unique and distinctive red sandstone canyons that concentrate this city with unparalleled natural wonder.

Within the ancient desert are entrancingly isolated hiking trails that will escort you to unforgettable sights, only experienced in this exclusive region of the arid and exposed Sonoran Desert.

Time To Hike The Best Trails in Flagstaff, AZ

1. Sandys Canyon Trail

Credit: USDA Forest Service


Directions:
From downtown Flagstaff, head south on W Butler Avenue and drive for 0.4 miles. Turn right onto S Lone Tree Road and drive for 1.9 miles before turning right onto E J.W. Powell Boulevard. Continue for 1.1 miles and turn left onto S Lake Mary Road. After 4.2 miles, turn left into the parking area for this trail.

The journey through Sandys Canyon is an opportunity to experience all the elements of this unequivocally special region, with moderate conditions that make this trail accessible to adventurers of all skill levels.

Immediately, you will be able to see the staggering San Francisco Peaks in the distance and the nearby cliffs of Walnut Canyon. Continue up the rocky canyon for a mile and you will intersect with the Arizona Trail.

This is the end of Sandys Canyon Trail, but if you continue either way at the junction, it will lead you to several other iconic Sonoran Desert trails.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 3.0 Miles
Elevation Gain: 305 Feet

2. Walnut Canyon Island Trail


Directions:
From East Flagstaff, head northeast on I-40 E for 5.9 miles and take exit 204 toward Walnut Canyon National Monument. After 0.3 miles, turn right on Walnut Canyon Road and continue for 3.0 miles and the parking area will be on your right.

Walnut Canyon Island Trail is an interpretive hike that takes you through a glimpse of the rich history of the Puebloan people. This short, but challenging climb leads you through a series of cliff dwellings built directly into the walls.

Along the trail are educational signage teaching the practices and unique lifestyle of this ancient village. The entirety of the trail is paved but is not wheelchair accessible. The trail is a consistently winding path that traverses over several steep flights of stairs leading up around the ridge of Walnut Canyon. Pay special attention to the remnants of the cliff dwellings and use your imagination to picture the generations of families who made this trail their home.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 0.7 Miles
Elevation Gain: 249 Feet

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3. Tom Moody Extended Loop Trail

Credit: Colin Lytle / AllTrails

Directions: From downtown Flagstaff, head northeast on W Historic Route 66 for 3.9 miles and make a left to stay on W Historic Route 66. After 1.8 miles, turn left onto N El Paso Flagstaff Road and continue for 0.6 miles and the parking area for this trail will be on the right.

Located just off Route 66, the Tom Moody Extended Trail Loop is a less traveled, but charmingly unique path just outside of Flagstaff. With the dry landscape of the Sonoran Desert, this trail is an escaping oasis with the peacefulness of solitude.

This relatively easy loop brings you through a lush pathway of clear river crossings and blooming with an abundance of vibrant and budding wildflowers. The path will eventually lead you down a narrow, rugged canyon lined with bouldering rock walls. Continue into the depths of the canyon before ultimately leading to the payoff, a rare Sonoran waterfall – slowly rolling to your feet.

Although the waterfall can be more powerful after rainfall, pay attention to flash flood warnings as this canyon can be unpredictably dangerous.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 3.7 Miles
Elevation Gain: 308 Feet

4. Buffalo Park Trail

Credit: Bill Morrow / Flickr

Directions: From downtown Flagstaff, head north on S San Francisco Street, and drive for 1.0 miles and turn right onto E Forest Avenue. After 0.8 miles, turn left onto N Gemini Road and make another left onto E Shoemaker Way and the parking area for this trail will be on your left.

This loop through stunning Buffalo Park is a beautiful opportunity to experience the Sonoran Desert within the comforts of the city. This popular trail rests atop a mesa and a wonderful vantage point of Elden Mountain.

The loop is widely paved and well-maintained, making it available and accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. The trail is lined with vivid wildflowers and is open year-round. For a unique experience, visit Buffalo Park during the new moon. This trail has the ideal and convenient conditions to stargaze with unspoiled images of the constellations in the clear night skies.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.2 Miles
Elevation Gain: 98 Feet

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5. Campbell Mesa Loop


Directions: From East Flagstaff, head northeast on I-40 E for 2.2 miles and take exit 201 toward US-98 N. Continue for 0.3 miles and turn right onto N Country Club Drive and drive for 0.9 miles before turning onto E Old Walnut Canyon Road. After another 0.9 miles. turn left onto Forest Service Road 790 and the parking area will be on your left.

The loop along Campbell Mesa is unique in its ecosystem. The manageable trail takes you through miles of ponderosa pines that are the habitat of several species of wildlife in this unique desert region.

Within this 5.5-mile loop, you may have the opportunity to come across a family of wild elk that make this trail their home. If you do see the herd, DO NOT approach them. When threatened, they can become hostile.

In addition to these huge creatures, this is also a healthy habitat for the creepy-crawly tarantula spider! Although the furry arachnids may appear scary, they are of no threat to humans and are more likely to retreat if approached.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 5.5 Miles
Elevation Gain: 314 Feet

6. Kendrick Peak Trail

Credit: Michael Rozzo / Flickr

Directions: From North Flagstaff, head north on US-180 W and drive for 16.6 miles and left onto Forest Service Road 171. Drive for 3.2 miles and turn right, followed by an immediate right onto an unnamed road. Continue for 1.9 miles and turn right onto Forest Service Road 100 and after 0.4 miles, the parking area will be on your right.

If you happen to be a glutton for punishment, then this hike is for you; however, if you are ready, willing, and able, the reward is well worth the punishment. Rising nearly 2,700 feet in less than 5 miles, the hike to Kendrick peak is an unrelenting climb that leads you to unmatched panoramic views of the Sonoran Desert.

Like most hikes in the desert, this one is extremely exposed, and water is at a premium. Do not attempt this trail in the sweltering summer months and be sure to be well-equipped with skin protection and food, with more water than you think you will need.

Difficulty: Strenuous
Distance: 9.3 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2,693 Feet

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7. Mars Hill Trail Loop

Credit: Abigail Johnson / Mars Hill / Facebook

Directions: From downtown Flagstaff, head east on W Historic Route 66 for 0.3 miles and make a slight right onto E Santa Fe Avenue. Continue for 0.4 miles and turn right onto N Thorpe Road. After another 0.4 miles, the parking area will be on your right.

The Mars Hill Trail Loop is a convenient, yet stunning trail that can be as long (or as short) as you would like. The hike begins in Thorpe Park and quickly escapes the city and begins a short ascent that leads to the top of the mesa.

Where the trail lacks panoramic overlooks, it provides a lush ponderosa pine forest that allows for a tranquil walk in the woods before peering across the valley from the ridge of the mesa. From the mesa, there is a network of trails that connect you to several of Flagstaff’s most popular hiking trails.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.3 Miles
Elevation Gain: 429 Feet

8. Schultz Creek Trail

Credit: Christopher Ruedy / Flickr

Directions: From downtown Flagstaff, head north on N Humphreys Street and drive 0.6 miles and turn left onto US-180 W. Drive for 2.6 miles and turn right onto N Schultz Pass Road. After 0.5 miles, slight right onto Schultz Pass Road and the parking area will be on your right.

Also known as the Rocky Ridge Trail, the Schultz Creek Loop Trail is a gradually steep, single-track loop along the scenic ridges of Dry Lake Hills in Coconino National Forest. As you approach the top, you will be rewarded with wonderful pine-framed views of Humphreys Peak, Arizona’s tallest mountain.

This trail is also a popular semi-technical mountain biking trail, so be aware of the two-wheeled cyclists on the path. If you would like a less-technical return, you can follow the dirt road at the end of the hike to return to the parking area.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 8.5 Miles
Elevation Gain: 839 Feet

9. Walnut Canyon Rim Trail


Directions: From East Flagstaff, head northeast on I-40 E for 5.9 miles and take exit 204 toward Walnut Canyon National Monument. After 0.3 miles, turn right on Walnut Canyon Road and continue for 3.0 miles and the parking area will be on your right.

The Walnut Canyon Rim Trail is an excellent interpretive hike that is a firsthand experience of the Puebloan settlers. The trail is paved and has very little elevation, making this informative trail available for all visitors.

Along the rim, you can see the ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings across the valley that have stood the test of time. Keep a keen eye out for signage and offshoots that take you to the partial remains of old pithouses and reconstructed walls to take visitors back in time.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 0.8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 39 Feet

Related Read: 10 Best Waterfalls Near Phoenix

10. Fisher Point Trail

Credit: Fisher Point Cave / Facebook

Directions: From downtown Flagstaff, head south on W Butler Avenue and drive for 0.4 miles. Turn right onto S Lone Tree Road and drive for 1.9 miles before turning right onto E J.W. Powell Boulevard. Continue for 0.3 miles and turn left onto S Links Road and drive for another 0.1 miles. Make a left onto S Clubhouse Circle and after 0.9 miles, make a left onto E Telluride Drive. Continue for 0.3 miles and the parking area will be on your right.

The hike to Fisher Point is truly a memorable experience. This out-and-back takes you into the depths of a canyon along the Sandys Point Trail before branching off towards the iconic lookout.

After branching from the canyon, the trail leads to a massive rock formation with a shaded cave that will surely make one wonder, “Does a dragon live here?” You may continue in this level area for miles, checking out several hidden caves before returning. If you branch in the opposite direction, you will be led to the iconic Fisher Point, a beautifully picturesque vantage point overlooking the valley.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 7.9 Miles
Elevation Gain: 846 Feet

11. Observatory Mesa Trail

Credit: AZ Central

Directions: From downtown Flagstaff, head east on W Historic Route 66 for 0.3 miles and make a slight right onto E Santa Fe Avenue. Continue for 0.4 miles and turn right onto N Thorpe Road. After another 0.4 miles, the parking area will be on your right.

The Observatory Mesa Trail is a hike that both brings you the lights of the city and into the depths of nature. Beginning within Flagstaff, it does not take long to escape into nature and leave the busy streets behind. The path continues along the ridge of the Sonoran Mesa and leads you to bright overlooks of the city you left behind.

This trail is poorly marked once you reach the forest. Pay attention to the carefully placed rock cairns by thoughtful travelers of yesterday and you will be just fine.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 6.4 Miles
Elevation Gain: 770 Feet

12. Rio de Flag South Trail

Credit: desert native / Flickr

Directions: From South Flagstaff, head south on S Lone Tree Road and left onto E Pine Knoll Drive. Drive for 0.5 miles and turn right onto E Peyton Way and continue for another 0.1 miles. Turn right onto Johnny Loop and drive for 0.2 miles and turn right onto E Peyton Way and the parking area will be on your right.

The Rio de Flag South Trail is a beautiful four-season trail that is an escape from the city without driving too far. The hike is a gentle pathway along comfortable terrain that is comfortable for hikers without sacrificing the tranquility of nature.

Along the walk, you will encounter plentiful ponds and find peace along the shores and wander through lush forests with opportunities to witness friendly deer – and potentially less-friendly elk. In the winter, the trail can be icy. But if you have the benefit of snowshoes or spikes, this trail transforms into a frozen winter wonderland.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 4.2 Miles
Elevation Gain: 249 Fee

13. O’Leary Peak Trail

Credit: Arizona Hiking

Directions: From downtown Flagstaff, head north on W Historic Route 66 and drive for 3.9 miles and merge onto N89. Drive for 12.1 miles and turn right onto Fire Road 545. Continue for 1.8 miles and turn left onto Forest Service Road 545A. After 0.3 miles, the trailhead will be on your left.

O’Leary Peak Trail is a humbling hike that, although difficult, is arguably the most rewarding hike in Flagstaff. The view from the summit is incredible, so much so that it is an active fire tower lookout.

O’Leary Peak is a lava dome crater, not a mountain. The climb is not easy, and the trail conditions deteriorate into loose rocks and cinders. Making the summit is not given lightly but earned. Once you reach the peak, you will have panoramic views of the entire region, as well as down-looking views of the Sunset Crater and the Painted Desert.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 9.6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2,014 Feet

14. Wupatki Pueblo Trail


Directions: From downtown Flagstaff, head north on W Historic Route 66 and drive for 3.9 miles and merge onto N89. Drive for 12.1 miles and turn right onto Fire Road 545. Continue for 21.0 miles and turn left onto Wupatki Road and the trail will be on your right.

The Wupatki Pueblo Trail is an informative journey through the last remnants of a large Puebloan community. The short walk brings you through the native village and with the help of educational signage, allows you to place yourselves in these ancient living rooms, kitchens, and mutual gathering locations. These structures were known to house as many as 2,000 people.

The Wupatki Tribe was the richest and most influential people in the area. In one of the warmest and driest regions, the Wupatki people were able to innovate farming techniques that would revolutionize the ways of the Puebloan people.

Difficulty: Easy
D
istance: 0.7 Miles
Elevation Gain: 82 Feet

15. Campbell Mesa and Anasazi Loop

Credit: FCOCEO / AllTrails

Directions: From East Flagstaff, head northeast on I-40 E for 2.2 miles and take exit 201 toward US-98 N. Continue for 0.3 miles and turn right onto N Country Club Drive and drive for 0.9 miles before turning onto E Old Walnut Canyon Road. After another 0.9 miles. turn left onto Forest Service Road 790 and the parking area will be on your left.

The Campbell Mesa and Anasazi Loop is an accessible loop just outside of Flagstaff. This well-trafficked trail takes you on a family-friendly path that is lined with blossoming wildflowers before reaching the top of the mesa.

From the top of the mesa, you can access Anasazi Loop – an arid loop around exposed views of the surrounding desert peaks. Along the path has excellent opportunities to witness wildlife. The top of the mesa is a healthy habitat for both deer and elk.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 3 Miles
Elevation Gain: 160 Feet

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