Best Hikes in Flagstaff This Fall

It’s Flagstaff. It’s fall. Are you smiling? We sure are. Let’s talk about the best hikes in Flagstaff this fall.

As the heat of the summer wains and the monsoon rains subsides, it’s finally time for fall hiking season! This is one of our favorite times of the year and here’s why: to live in a place with aspens that turn yellowy-gold is any outdoor enthusiasts paradise. It’s beautiful, it means ski season is just around the corner, and it means Peace Surplus has great end-of-summer deals. 

Here are some of our favorite places to hike in Flagstaff in the fall of 2022. 

Hike #1: The One-And-Only Lockett Meadow

Due to devastation from this year’s Pipeline fire, it’s undetermined yet whether the most frequented destination for aspen fall foliage, Lockett Meadow, (usually one of the best hikes in Flagstaff!) will be available for easy drive up access like in year’s past. You can check the status of Forest Service Road 552, (Lockett Meadow Road, here, under the “Northeast of Flagstaff” section. 

Hike #2: Abineau-Bear Jaw Loop

Looking for a hike that will make you work a little for beautiful fall foliage? This is your answer. Located on the far side of the San Francisco Peaks, this hike begins at the Abineau Trailhead and hikes upward to meet the portion of the Waterline Road Trail still open after the fire earlier this summer. At the junction of the two trails, you’ll enter a stunningly beautiful meadow with summer wildflowers and a beautiful view of the changing aspen colors. Take the Waterline Road Trail about 2.2 miles before descending onto Bear Jaw Trail that will take you back to your car. It’s a 7.1 mile hike but leads you deep into the beautiful Flagstaff forest with great views!

“Hike” #3: Snowbowl’s Gondola Ride

If you just shook your head at the previous 7.1 mile hike, take the easy and enjoyable way up to 11,500 feet on Snowbowl’s Gondola ride. We raved about their sunset gondola ride in our previous blog post, Peace Surplus Employees Share Their Favorite Northern Arizona Adventures, and we’ll rave about it again here. It’s also a great option for those who love the outdoors but might not be able-bodied. Accessibility to the outdoors can be difficult to say the least, but this is an inclusive option to see the fall foliage everyone deserves to enjoy.

Hike #4: Walnut Canyon National Monument

If you’re looking for a short day hike peppered with a historical twist, this is your hike. Walnut Canyon allows for beautiful panoramic views of fall foliage while you walk along ancient and remarkably well preserved cliff dwellings. Not sure if the leaves are in the perfect viewing window yet? Check Flagstaff’s LEAF-ometer here!

Hike #5: Oak Creek Canyon

You may have escaped the bite of wintery-cold by descending 2,500 feet into Oak Creek, or even spent your summer splashing in the waters of the canyon creek to stay cool, but have you seen its radiant fall colors? Unlike Flagstaff, Oak Creek is home to many different species of deciduous and evergreen oaks. These oaks turn bright red and orange, for a contrasting fall foliage picture when compared to Flagstaff. There are various picnic areas along 89A when you descend into Oak Creek. You can also hike the AB Young Trail which ascends back up the Mogollon Rim or the West Fork Trail that stays on the canyon bottom and winds within the Oak trees. 

Hike #6: AZT Trail 34

Looking for more San Francisco Peak fun? On your way up to Snowbowl, park at Aspen Corner parking area, and know that due to the name of the parking area, you’re in for a treat! The AZT, or Arizona Trail, crosses through this area on a relatively flat section. You can head north or south but we recommend this route on Trail Run Project. (Have you heard of Trail Run Project? It’s a free, downloadable app that gives you access to trails anywhere in the US. It’s great for areas like this in which you might not have service). It will also help you find more of the best hikes in Flagstaff!

Hike #7: Kachina Trail #150

If the Aspen Corner parking lot is full, continue up the road and park in the Snowbowl parking lot. On the south side of the parking lot, this 6.1 mile trail connects the Humphrey’s peak trailhead with the Weatherford Trail. It meanders through aspen groves and only has 700 feet of elevation change over the 6.1 miles. It’s a great option to walk even for an hour or two. Ambitious hikers can hile the total 12.2 miles out and back if they’re looking for a full day. 

Still Looking for More of Flagstaff’s Best Hikes?

If you’re looking for more of the best hikes in Flagstaff, our Peace Surplus employees would be happy to help you, just stop on in! Need a light fall jacket or daypack? We have you covered there, too. Happy Fall! P.S. Wondering what else to do this fall? Checkout our Fall Flagstaff Guide.

Flagstaff's Fall Colors on Aspen Trees View Looking Up Towards Ski
View of 2021 Aspen Trees in Locket Meadow