Take a Hike: Unlock Treasures of Nature in Flagstaff
Hiking feels right in Flagstaff, Arizona. It’s a strenuous and rewarding activity that fits in with the rough-and-tumble pioneer spirit upon which the city was founded.
On Independence Day in 1876, a party of explorers carved a Ponderosa Pine flagpole and erected it near the Colorado Plateau’s southwestern edge to celebrate the nation’s centennial annivesary. The pine tree was cut from the largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine forest in the country, which lies adjacent to Flagstaff.
Over time, the name of that location evolved into Flagstaff, and three years ago it was named among National Geographic’s “10 Great Towns that Will Make You Feel Young.”
One of the ways Flagstaff helps people feel young is by offering colorful contrasts of nature’s treasures for them to explore via dozens of hiking trails. Its surrounding areas include barren tundra, green alpine forests, desert plains, snowy mountaintops, and stunning plateaus, so hikers are never at a loss for changing scenery. This is one of the rare regions in Arizona that can boast of four clearly definable seasons.
It’s difficult to observe the awe-inspiring mountains surrounding Flagstaff’s raw natural beauty without wanting to more fully absorb their multi-dimensional depths and peaks. Flagstaff, at 7,000 feet, is situated just south of Arizona’s highest mountain range, the San Francisco Peaks. It is only about 10 miles away from Arizona’s tallest mountain, Humphreys Peak, measuring in at 12,633 feet.
Most hiking adventures are pursued during Flagstaff’s milder months, between April and November. Snowy conditions can cause some trails and roads to become impassible during winter. Weather-wise, temperatures usually drop dramatically at night all year round, and average around freezing in the summer.
Flagstaff’s “monsoon” season brings rain and thunderstorms in July and August. Typical summer temperatures hover around the 80-degree mark.
The countryside is extremely inviting to hikers of all levels, and numerous mapped trails criss-cross Flagstaff’s glorious terrain in varying degrees of difficulty:
Tackling trails rated as easy is a good first step for beginners, who are comfortable walking for up to two hours. Elevation changes are minimal, and trails usually start and end in the same place. Even though a trail is “easy,” hikers will still encounter various types of terrain, so proper shoes need to be worn.