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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Family-friendly hiking in Flagstaff's Buffalo Park


Is it just me, or are Arizona winters becoming much shorter and warmer?  It normally takes until March before uncomfortably balmy temperatures send me fleeing to the high country in search of cooler hiking.
However, this January, we here in Phoenix were “blessed” with a few near 80-degree days, which provided the perfect excuse to make a dead-of-winter hiking trip to Flagstaff.  Besides, I was nearly out of my Late for the Train North Rim decaf coffee beans (no, this iconic Flagstaff roastery did not give me free joe for this plug, it's just good stuff), so I figured, I'd hike a trail or two located just north of their Fort Valley cafe location before replenishing my caffeine stash.  Buffalo Park used to be a private wildlife zoo and the goofy buffalo sculpture standing guard at the entrance is a remnant of its past life.  After the zoo closed, the property was incorporated into the Flagstaff Urban Trails System (FUTS---say “foots”) as a non-motorized hike-bike-run-accessible recreation area. Its short loop trails---imaginatively named #1 and #2--- are flat, wide and  ringed with Ponderosa pines and mountain views. The park also serves as a shove off point for the Switzer Canyon, Oldham, McMillian Mesa and Arizona Trails which connect at the park perimeters. In addition--for those who want to add a dose of Flagstaff arts and sciences to the trip-- the park is very close to the Museum of Northern Arizona, Coconino Center for the Arts and the Arizona Historical Society-Pioneer Museum making it a good place to get a quick leg stretch in between cultural immersions.  Need a cup of hot java after a long day of hiking and culture?  You know where to go.
San Francisco Peaks: elevation 12,633'

LENGTH: 2 miles roundtrip
RATING: super easy & barrier-free, suitable for strollers, wheelchairs and walkers
ELEVATION: 7,065 – 7,150'
KID friendly?:  yes
DOGS:  must be on leash and owners must remove all waste
Elden Mountain: elevation 9,200'
From Phoenix, go north on I 17 to Flagstaff.  As you exit I 17 and enter town, you'll be on Milton Road.  Follow Milton north to where it makes a sharp right turn and becomes Route 66.  Continue a very short distance to the first traffic signal at Humphreys Street and make a left.  Travel north on Humphreys to Fort Valley Road (a.k.a. US 180) veer left and continue to Forest Ave.  Turn right and go to the turnoff for the park at Gemini Drive.  Turn left and follow the signs to the park entrance.
NOTE:  the park is used frequently for events (marathons, races for various cures and the like) and may be closed for part or all of some days---especially on weekends.  So, be sure to call ahead.
INFO:  City of Flagstaff

1 comment:

RahX said...

I am sorry to post again, I was not sure if I posted before on your most recent post but I would like directions to the water wheel area near payson. I cannot find good directions online so far and that is how I found your blog. I hope you can help me out.