Inner Basin is the area’s most stunning fall foliage hike. Surprisingly, Flagstaff is a hot spot for fall color in Arizona. The fall foliage in Flagstaff is not simply good for Arizona, but rather truly spectacular, with Flagstaff being recognized as one of the top leaf peeping destinations out West. The Inner Basin hike takes you through the heart of the San Francisco Peaks for a scenic, fun, and challenging high altitude adventure of a lifetime. As almost every tree is an aspen compared to the predominant ponderosa found on many of the trails in the lower elevations around town (Flagstaff is located with the country’s largest ponderosa forest), the views are absolutely magical in the fall. As you make your way up the hilly 1.7 mile trail to Waterline Road, you will be surrounded by never ending views of tall shimmering golden aspens.
It is a fall experience like no other in the country. A hike along Inner Basin in the peak of fall rivals the best fall foliage hikes in New England. As expected, with immense beauty comes a price. The wait for this trail on the weekends is often over an hour, so plan your hike on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Don’t worry if you cannot make it out during the week – it is well worth the long wait for a walk along one of the West’s best fall foliage hikes.
Be prepared for a tough journey, as this trail starts an an elevation of 8500 feet and climbs up to 10,000 feet. Fortunately, you do not have to complete the entire trail to immerse yourself in the beautiful golden colors of the season, although if you feel fit & motivated enough, I definitely recommend experiencing the entire trail!
Distance: 3.2 mile round trip
Best season: Fall