A classic Flagstaff ride that should be done at least once. Late spring and fall are the best times. This ride does have quite a bit of fire road, but it's well worth the views and incredible sections of singletrack to be had.
Carry plenty of water and snacks - this is not a short ride and you should plan to be self-sustaining.
Park at the Schultz Creek lot. Head up Schultz Creek Trail
all the way to Schultz Pass. Hop onto Schultz Pass Rd for a quick minute, then hang a left on to Waterline Road (Trail)
(closed to vehicles by a gate). Steady climb on Waterline Road (Trail)
, traversing the mountainside, all the way to the Inner Basin Trail
. Make sure to take in the views of the burn areas and the incredible aspen groves as you spin. There is supposedly a potable spring somewhere in the Inner Basin (not confirmed).
Drop into Inner Basin Trail
on the right and enjoy ripping down the beautiful singletrack to Lockett Meadow. Be mindful of hikers, though - this trail usually has lots. When you reach Lockett Meadow campground/parking lot, continue heading straight and slightly downhill on the gravel road all the way through the campground and past the meadow. Head out of the area on Forest Road 552
. This is a wide-open fire road descent with some driftable, loose corners. But, beware of cars heading uphill - the road can be narrow in places. The road will flatten out and 'T' into another dirt road, 552A. Turn left onto 552A, go for a hundred yards or so, then quickly hang the first left onto Forest Road 418
Forest Road 418
will continue winding around the base of the San Francisco mountains, rolling up and down as it goes for quite a while. You'll pass a number of campsites, hollows, and turns, but stay on the main road. Enjoy the views of the peaks while you spin. After about 10 miles on 418, you'll come to a small, grassy parking area on both sides of the road where the Arizona Trail (Aspen Corner to FR 418)
singletrack crosses 418. This is a good place to enjoy the aspen trees, have a snack, and refuel from the climbing you just did because you're about to do more!
From the fire road, hang a left onto the AZT and start the gradual spin up the AZT. Take in the pines, aspens, and alpine meadows as you roll. You'll pass a few trail turn-offs, but stay on the AZT. Classic singletrack. As you approach the Snowbowl ski resort area, if you are in need of water you can detour and turn left to head up the Aspen Nature Trail
to the Snowbowl Lodge above the parking lots. Otherwise, continue along the Arizona Trail (Snowbowl Road to Aspen Corner)
. After you fly through a wide-open meadow, you'll start to head into the trees again. Get ready for one of the best sections of downhill singletrack in Arizona. The AZT heads (generally) downhill from Snowbowl all the way back down to where it crosses Snowbowl Rd. Let it rip, but again be mindful of hikers and uphill riders.
When you reach Snowbowl Rd., cross and continue on the Arizona Trail (Snowbowl Road to Schultz Pass)
- please close the gate. The AZT will roll along, gradually climbing through Fort Valley back towards Schultz Creek. There will be lots of turn offs, but stay on the (well marked) AZT. You'll come to a Y-split intersection with a sign for the Equestrian Bypass or the Urban Route
. You can continue on the AZT climbing back to Schultz Pass via the Equestrian Bypass if you want, but this suggested route has you take the shorter Urban Route
Head right on the Urban Route
, then turn right on Schultz Creek Rd (dirt road), then immediately take a very quick left off the road onto a connector trail where an AZT sign marker is. The connector "T's" into Schultz Creek Trail
. Take a right on Schultz Creek Trail
, and enjoy the fast, flowy singletrack all the way back down to the Schultz Creek parking lot. Congrats - you've ridden 'round the peaks!