With the return of warmer summer temperatures in the Valley, I decided that it was time to return to the north country for some much needed relief from the heat (and judging by the number of cars on the road, I wasn't the only one with this idea!)
The Inner Basin Trail, which is 12 miles north of Flagstaff, begins at the campgrounds around the beautiful Lockett Meadow. From here the trail begins a study, but uneventful, climb through a rather thick aspen forest. Although the trees are beautiful and often accompanied by scatterings of colorful wildflowers, the denseness of the forest denies views of the surrounding landscape.
After 1.5 miles, the trail approaches a small cabin owned by the Forestry Department; the trail then turns sharply and begins a much more dramatic ascent. Almost immediately, you'll encounter the first of several pump station still used to provide water to the town of Flagstaff; after passing this, the forest finally begins to open up so that the first glimpses of the majestic San Francisco Peaks become visible.
As the four tallest mountains in Arizona appear around you, the trail flattens and opens to a wide meadow, the Inner Basin. The ancient remains of massive volcano, the Inner Basin is now a peaceful, wind-swept meadow. Although I chose to turn around at the western edge of the Basin, the trail does apparently continue for another mile to the Doyle Springs at the base of the mountains. From the Basin, it's an easy downhill trip back along the original path to Lockett Meadow.To view more photos of the Inner Basin Trail, click here.