There aren’t many hikes that deliver a scenic payoff with little effort, and the Inner Basin Trail is one of the few. Its cluster of aspens, lush grass, and mountain views make it one of the best spots in Flagstaff, Arizona. Even if you don’t have to hike far to see it all.
Getting to Lockett Meadow
Have you ever taken a weekend trip to Flagstaff? Then you’ve made this drive. Coming from Phoenix, take the I-17 north towards Flagstaff until you reach I-40 east. Just a few miles down that and you’ll take Highway 89 north for about 15 miles until you reach FR 395. But really… just type “Inner Basin Trailhead” into Google Maps and it will lead you straight there. This is an easy drive with a dirt road that’s bumpy but doable for any passenger car. Maybe don’t take a Ferrari up there.
Hiking Up Inner Basin
Holy aspens, Batman. This is probably the biggest concentration of aspen trees in Arizona and the collection is surrounded by the greenest grass and brush you’ll see in the forest. This trail is an absolute joy and quite mild for more casual hikers who aren’t craving a leg burner in high elevation (there’s no secondary fun here). The first half of the hike leaves Lockett Meadow campground and winds through the aspen trees as the switchbacks carry you up to the basin. Once you reach a small dirt road, turn right and follow that to a group of small wood sheds. There will be a series of trails splitting off from that area but follow the signs for “Inner Basin” and you can’t go wrong.
When you finally reach the basin (“finally,” it’s not that far), the sky opens up and the mountains are in complete view. You could continue on Weatherford Trail, which goes all the way to Humphreys Peak, but that’s a sun up to sundown type of hike. You can, however, turn this hike into a loop on the way back to the trailhead. When you reach the area where Inner Basin Trail meets the dirt road, take the second trail from the right of the map/sign and it will take you back to the same spot.
About That Post-Hike Burger
I never really talk about what I eat after a good hike. I love a post-hike cheeseburger, especially when it was a grueling journey. Your body just sort of absorbs every calorie without feeling full or stuffed when you’re finished eating. Flagstaff is full of great burger joints but I dig Diablo Burger downtown. And I don’t mess around with the extras, either. I go for the classic—burger, cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and the bun. We’re talkin’ about a cheeseburger here, people. It’s simple. Don’t mess it up.
Papa’s New Boots
The people at GORE-TEX® kindly gave me a new pair of The North Face Ultra GORE-TEX® SURROUND Mid boots to test on the trail. They wanted me to see if a pair of waterproof boots can breathe in extreme heat so I tested them in both mountains and desert. Huge thank you to everyone over there for the free kicks. I enjoyed the hell out of them.
You can read my full review of the boots on its official blog (link coming soon).
- Location: Lockett Meadow/Flagstaff
- Distance: 5 miles (roundtrip)
- Elevation Gain: 1000 feet
- Difficulty: 5/10
- Cautions: None
- Highlights: Aspen trees, mountain views, large meadows up top
- Nearby Campground: Lockett Meadow
- PTO Days Required: 0 (from Phoenix, Tucson, or Flagstaff)
- Nearest City/Town: Flagstaff, Arizona
- TOTAL SCORE: 2 sheets of GORE-TEX® waterproof membrane