Hike in
the Urban-Forest Interface

FUTS routes close to town connect with the Arizona Trail

“You can’t
get there from here,” my hiking partner told a confused pair of trekkers who asked
us for directions to an Arizona Trail junction. He gently kicked my shin to
signal he was joking as the couple fumbled with a map. Waiting a beat to
satisfy his warped sense of humor, my pal continued, “Just kidding, of course
you can get there from here. This is Flagstaff.” He’s not wrong.

I-40 passes above Duck Pond on the Arizona Trail

With hundreds of miles of
national forest trails and city pathways, there are dozens of ways to access the iconic 800+-mile Arizona Trail (AZT) that swings through the northern
Arizona city.

Mexican Hat flowers bloom along FUTS

The state-traversing
route draws hikers, bikers and equestrians from all over the world to this Arizona
Trail gateway community—a city or town that embraces and gives ongoing
support to the trail and its users. In addition to deep-forest trailheads and popular
campgrounds the Arizona Trail may also be accessed by using the Flagstaff Urban
Trails System (FUTS). With over 50 miles of existing trails in place and plans
for 80 more, the network of paved walkways, re-purposed dirt roads and single track
paths make walking off a busy city street into a quiet forest as effortless as
moving from room-to-room in your home. One stunning example of the connectivity
offered by this community-driven system is located near the intersection of
Interstates 17 and 40 southeast of downtown.

Russian knapweed (invasive) grows in meadows
View from the trailhead near Coconino Community College
You'll see planes from nearby Flagstaff Pulliam Airport
The moderate loop has some steep sections

The moderate 6-mile loop hike samples several flavors of FUTS. From a groomed
trailhead near Coconino Community College, the hike begins by heading 0.2-mile
north on the paved Lone Tree Trail. Next, turn right onto the Broken Arrow Trail
which leaves the pavement and heads east on a dirt track. After 0.4-mile, the trail continues on a dirt
road through a drainage area surrounded by pines and wildflower meadows.

FUTS paths connect with Coconino NF trails

The
route is obvious except for where a solitary tree stands at a fork in the road
at the 1.6-mile point. Veer left here and continue 0.3-mile to Duck Pond and
the junction for the Arizona Trail Passage 33.

A dragonfly rests near Duck Pond

Despite the rumble and hum of
vehicles rolling over a bridge on Interstate 40, the reedy lake is a pleasant
little place with active waterfowl and swarms of dragonflies. After exploring around
the water, head right (southeast) at the AZT sign and make a short but steep
uphill slog that leads into a sliver of Coconino National Forest that sits
between country clubs and subdivisions.

FUTS paths provide non-motorized travel through Flagstaff

Along this 1.7-mile leg of the trip,
freeway noise is gradually muffled by the hilly terrain, but aircraft using the
Flagstaff Pulliam Airport that’s located a few miles to the southwest are
regular reminders that this woodsy buffer zone is very much within the
urban-forest interface. Follow the AZT signs to a 3-way junction with a gate
and a sign for Fisher Point. To complete the loop, head right and follow an
unsigned dirt road. After 0.6-mile of traipsing through sunny fields and shaded bends, the route
rejoins the FUTS system.

Part of the loop follows closed dirt roads

Continue
0.4-mile on the Fisher Point Trail which skirts the edge of a posh golf
community then hang a left at the JWP Trail.

The loop is a seamless walk between city and forest

The final 0.8-mile return leg is
on the non-motorized path that parallels John Wesley Powell Boulevard. This
tiny taste of FUTS and its connectivity shows how with only a bike, horse or a
pair of hiking boots, you can get just about anywhere in Flagstaff–and beyond.

LENGTH:
6-mile loop

RATING:
moderate

ELEVATION:
6766- 6979 feet

GETTING
THERE:

From
Flagstaff, go 1.2 miles south on Lake Mary Road to J.W. Powell Blvd. Turn left
and continue 1 mile to the trailhead at the corner of Lone Tree Road.

INFO:
Flagstaff Urban Trails System (FUTS)

https://www.flagstaff.az.gov/1379/Flagstaff-Urban-Trails-System-FUTS

Arizona
Trail

https://aztrail.org/

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