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Monday, August 3, 2015
WALNUT MEADOWS to WALNUT CANYON
Flagstaff's Campbell Mesa Trail System is an 11.3-mile maze of 5 loop routes. It's a popular hub for hiking, biking and horseback riding that wanders among pine-oak forests and open meadows north of Walnut Canyon National Monument. Located adjacent to residential communities on the east end of town, the system is a convenient launch site for casual day hikes, dog walks or more ambitious treks through and around the city. Excellent signage throughout and connectivity with the Arizona Trail and the Flagstaff Loop Trail makes for a wide variety of recreational opportunities. One way to sample the beauty of this area is to step out on the Walnut Meadows Trail, connect with Arizona Trail Passage #31 and hike to the edge of Walnut Canyon. The hike begins at the sign just south of the trailhead where it immediately enters a field of sunflowers then passes a Loop Trail post before ducking into the pines. At the 2.4-mile point, pick up the Arizona Trail, which roughly traces the canyon's ragged brim. Within a half-mile, you'll notice tributary gorges opening up on south side of the trail. Then, at the 4-mile mark, Walnut Canyon proper appears as a precipitous gash in the terrain. This makes for a good turnaround point. But, if you're up for a challenge, continue on as the route descends via steep, hairpin twists then climbs up again to make its way to Fisher Point and Sandy's Canyon.
LENGTH: 8 miles (as described here)
ELEVATION: 6,363' - 6,882'
From Phoenix, go north on Interstate 17 to the Interstate 40 junction in Flagstaff. Go east (toward Albuquerque) on I 40 to the Country Club Road exit 201. Turn right and go 1 mile south on Country Club Road to Old Walnut Canyon Road (Forest Road 303), turn left and continue 1 mile to the parking lot on the left. Trailhead is locate 300 feet beyond the gate.
Campbell Mesa Trail System
Arizona Trail Passage #31