Hiking Inner Basin Trail | Flagstaff, AZ

The Stats:
Trail name: Inner Basin Trail
Location: Flagstaff, AZ
Distance: 4.3 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: ~900 feet
Published Difficulty: Moderate
Dog Friendliness: Friendly

Inner Basin trail is one of the most popular hikes in Flagstaff – particularly in the fall. So popular in October, in fact, that the Forest Service had to start limiting capacity on the weekends due to over population and the adverse impact it was having on the aspen seedlings. When you visit (because you definitely should), just make sure you’re staying on trail. As tempting as it may be to venture into the Aspen forest for that perfect shot.

The Inner Basin Trail

Inner Basin trail is best hiked between early spring and late fall. Note that the access road closes in the winter. The trailhead lies at the end of a gorgeous 2-mile drive up a gravel road toward Lockett Meadow campground. Park at the day use parking area toward the back.

This is a relatively moderate hike, taking you on an adventure through a picturesque aspen forest dotted with fresh-scented pine trees. The first 3/4 mile is relatively flat, before you start to ascend through a far denser concentration of aspens.

Aspen groves at Inner Basin trail

Follow the switchbacks through the groves until you reach Waterline Trail Road (accessible only to the Forest Service) at approximately 1.5 miles. You’ll follow the well-marked trail to the right where the landscape opens up and the San Francisco Peaks really come into view.

Bring a blanket and some snacks (I’m all about the hiking snacks) and hang out for a while. What better way to spend your time than kicking it in nature’s playground?

Inner basin in Flagstaff, AZ


From Flagstaff, take Highway 89 N for about 12 miles. Look for the sign for Sunset Crater/Wupatki, and turn left directly across from this road. Continue on the gravel road for 4 miles, following signs to Lockett Meadow. Drive through the campground to access the trailhead.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Try one of these other amazing Arizona hikes:

Or pick up your own copy of 100 Classic Hikes: Arizona

Let's discuss!