Hike of the Week: Inner Basin Trail near Flagstaff

Mare CzinarSeptember 27, 2023
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Inner Basin Trail, Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff

The Flagstaff fall foliage show usually begins in late September on the Inner Basin Trail.  Plan ahead and be prepared for crowds if you want to stroll among tight-knit aspen groves high on the eastern flanks of the San Francisco Peaks. Getting to this immensely popular trail involves a white-knuckle drive on a sinuous, edgy dirt road, but for those who dare to brave the congestion and hairpin turns, the hike is one to savor.

  • LENGTH: 8 miles round trip
  • RATING: difficult
  • ELEVATION: 8,600- 10,990 feet
  • BEST SEASON: May – October
  • FACILITIES: restroom, camping at Lockett Meadow Campground (fee area)

GETTING THERE:

  • In Flagstaff, go  east on Interstate 40 and connect with U.S. 89 north.
  • Go 17 miles north on U.S.89 to Forest Road 420 at milepost 431.2 across from the turnoff for Sunset Crater.
  • Turn left then make a left onto Forest Road 552 and follow the signs 4.5 miles to Lockett Meadow.
  • The good gravel roads are narrow and winding with steep drop offs and no guardrails.
  • Sedans okay, drive slowly and watch those curves.
  • Trailhead parking is just past the campground.
  • Trailhead has restrooms and fee-based camping.
  • The access road is subject to closures, traffic management to control the mobs during peak color weeks.
  • Check before going and expect delays.