HIKE - Fall Colors at Inner Basin of San Francisco Mountain

Hike through a marvelous forest of aspen and pine to a beautiful meadow surrounded by the San Francisco Peaks.

The trail into the heart of the ancient volcano begins in beautiful Lockett Meadow. From this island of emerald ringed with aspens and high peaks it follows a primitive road into the mountain's now quiet Inner Basin and then connects to the Weatherford trail. Here, extensive stands of aspens cover the steep slopes of the old caldera coloring them solid gold in early fall. In spring and summer, wildflowers add a sprinkling of blue, red and yellow. From the basin's rims, avalanche tracks streak down the talus slopes and remnants of old lava flows bear witness to the mountain's cataclysmic heritage. The San Francisco Peaks’ highest Mountaintops –Doyle, Fremont, Agassiz and Humphreys ring the meadow showing off a striking subalpine scene. 

The trail keeps a shady profile as it purposefully climbs on a primitive road up to the inner basin through a forest of Aspen, fir, spruce and mixed conifers. Expect to see dogwood, elderberry, and wild raspberry. And in the meadow orange sneezeweed, Indian paintbrush, and other wildflowers.

Our hikes are generally at a pace conducive to social banter of interest to heathens, and allowing for time for photography of the local geology and wildlife.  However, since this is an out-n-back trail route, hikers may choose their own pace to the inner basin. We will return together after everyone has had a chance to explore the interior of the inner basin for a while. We will be using walkie talkies for coordination. Expect this hike to last 4-5 hours

Go here for more details, maps and photos:


here’s a clip showing the finish:


here’s a nice report:



Distance:     4 miles

Time:            4-5 hours

Difficulty:    moderate but with significant elevation gain

Trail:             old forest service road.

Trailhead  Elevation: 8665 ft.

Elevation gain: 1146 ft.

Parking:       lot with facilities . . campground near trailhead

Tailhead GPS:  35°[masked]’ N, 111°[masked]’ W

Destination GPS: [masked] [masked]; 35°[masked] -111°[masked]; 35° 20'23.553" -111° 39'5.087"

Entry fees: There is a $5/person fee payable at the booth just prior to reaching the visitor center however they honor and issue America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes including the Annual Pass, Senior Pass and Access Pass.

Dogs:            NO


Always carry and drink plenty of water! 

Sunscreen and insect repellent is advised.

Supportive footwear is also advisable.

SAFETY FIRST… we have no medical provisions.

Hike at your own risk.

How to find us: Meet at trailhead (directions below)… If lost or late, call cell[masked] . . . but cell phone coverage is unlikely.


To get there: After a good breakfast, drive approximately 12 miles north of the Townsend-Winona Road turnoff (on the northeastern edge of Flagstaff), milepost 430, and turn left (west) onto Forest Rd. 420 (across from the turnoff for Sunset Crater) and set your trip odometer to “0”. After ½ mile, turn right on Forest Rd. 522 and drive 3.3 miles to where it ends at the Locket Meadow campground. Veer to the right and the trail head is at the far end of the campground on the right.

Google says this trail head is about 45 min from the intersection of the I-40 and I-17.

Google says this trail head is about 2 hr. 45 min. from the intersection of the 101 and I-17. . .. 153 miles.

I suggest allowing another 15 minutes for dirt road delay.


Carpooling can save gas but also enhance the social experience. If you’d like to carpool, you must contact others for arrangements.  You could email members or post comments on this announcement page. … Although you may know of better choices, and I want to hear of them, I can suggest these carpool locations around the valley:

Those traveling from north, central or west Phoenix could meet at the park n ride just west of I-17 on the south side of Bell Rd.

Those traveling from the Tempe/Mesa area could meet at Fiesta Mall’s parking lot just north of the 60 at Alma School Rd.   Enter from Alma School Rd., and park at the perimeter of the parking lot across from Best Buy. Google says the trail head is 3 hours 15 minutes from Fiesta Mall.

Following out hike we will gather for rehydration and lunch at one of many local venues.  A couple places we have enjoyed before are

Beaver Street Brewery


Salsa Bravo

2220 East Santa Fe Ave… aka Route 66


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  • Al T.

    thanks for the great photos everyone

    October 31, 2012

  • Tyger G.

    Spectacular hike in every way. I took some of my best fall photos ever on this trip and the next one to West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon north of Sedona.

    October 29, 2012

  • Al T.

    went for the yellow, stayed for the snow?

    October 15, 2012

  • Matt

    A very nice hike, not too strenuous but a decent workout and a great group of people to hang out with.

    October 14, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Scott, please call me. I'm en route but airing up at a Chevron. [masked]

    October 14, 2012

  • Al T.

    Tammy, Tyger, Casey, and I will be staying Saturday night at the Hampton Inn. We will do a short hike Saturday afternoon ... More information on this forthcoming.

    October 12, 2012

  • Jim

    October 8, 2012

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