Slate Mountain is the most underrated hike in the area. Although the trail head is located about 30 minutes outside of town along Hwy 180, the drive is well worth it for the solitude and breathtaking views of the San Francisco Peaks that you will experience along the way. The trail is moderately challenging, consisting of a 2.1 mile gradual climb up to an overlook, where you will be rewarded, with what is in my opinion, is the most stunning scenery in the entire Northern Arizona area. Slate Mountain is not the hardest hike in the area, although it is no easy feat either as the hike starts at an elevation of 7300 feet and climbs about 1000 feet to the overlook. It is a gradual climb and not nearly as hard as some other trails.
Take your time on the way up, snap lots of photos, take a rest when you need it, and drink plenty of water and you should be just fine. The lower body workout will be well worth the effort in the end. The 2 mile climb downhill feels like a breeze compared to the climb up and the beautiful scenery continues on with a quiet walk through ponderosa pine forest. I’ve never seen a single hiker on this trail – it’s quiet and peaceful all of the time. I have even seen wildlife tracks which is quite rare for this high traffic area!
A morning spent hiking Slate Mountain is an incredible nature experience like no other in the area: one which highlights the most awe inspiring scenery in Northern Arizona. Hiking Slate Mountain is a must do when visiting Flagstaff, and my number 1 vacation activity for new visitors!
Distance: 4.2 miles round-trip
Best season: Summer