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High Country Tour to Bismark Lake

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.7 (10) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Amazing high-elevation scenery, some of AZ's best aspen stands, and quality riding.


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Map Key

17.5

Miles

28.2

KM

100%

Singletrack

9,012' 2,747 m

High

7,666' 2,337 m

Low

1,774' 541 m

Up

1,774' 541 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

15%

Max Grade (9°)

Dogs Unknown

E-Bikes Unknown

Features -none-

Overview

This route uses the Arizona Trail to climb up into the San Francisco Peaks and then roll through high meadows and aspen stands to a small lake. The scenery and riding are first-rate.

Need to Know

This area is popular, especially on weekends, and especially during leaf season (the area around Aspen Corner draws crowds). Be ready to share the trail.

This route is described as an out-and-back, starting from low on Snowbowl Road. For an easier alternative, the trail can be accessed from Aspen Corner, which is higher up Snowbowl Road. This alternative makes for a ride suitable for beginners, trims 4.8 miles off the route (each way), and eliminates most of the difficult climbing (and fun descending).

Description

This ride starts on a recently completed section of the Arizona Trail that doesn't yet appear in most maps or guidebooks. It is inconspicuously marked by trail signs along Snowbowl Road, and parking is unmarked. The first 4.8 miles of the ride ascends nearly continuously on a well-engineered trail that manages to avoid ever being too steep or too rocky. As the trail gets higher it starts to get more difficult, or maybe its just the altitude. Regardless, the forest turns to aspen and mixed conifer, and its downright beautiful.

At 4.8 miles you'll cross the access trail for Aspen Corner. A quick detour to the left here will lead to a picturesque water tank that usually holds water and has great views of the San Francisco Peaks. A right turn leads up (steeply) to the Aspen Corner parking area.

Continuing straight on the Arizona Trail the grade eases considerably and the trail breaks out of the aspen to cross Hart Prairie. Outstanding views in all directions continue for miles as you alternate between meadows and aspen stands. When fall colors are blazing, the scenery is mind-blowing.

At 7.9 miles there is a signed turnoff to Bismark Lake, which is the turnaround for this ride. The lake itself is a bit underwhelming, but there is often wildlife around and the views of Humphreys Peak are great.

With the descent from Aspen Corner to look forward to, the trip back is a pleasure.

Contacts

Shared By:

Almonzo Wilder

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 10 votes

#2

in Mount Elden

#720

Overall
  4.7 from 10 votes
5 Star
70%
4 Star
30%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#2

in Mount Elden

#33

in Arizona

#720

Overall
229 Views Last Month
12,996 Since Jun 4, 2013
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
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38%
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63%
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Photos

Cutting it up through one of the aspen sections!
Jun 26, 2020 near Flagstaff, AZ
MTBProject says no pictures of trail signs, but I say 'Viva La Revolucion!'
Jun 4, 2013 near Flagstaff, AZ
Humphreys Peak from Hart Prairie
Jun 4, 2013 near Flagstaff, AZ
A view of aspen trees on the return ride back to the trailhead.
Oct 18, 2016 near Flagstaff, AZ
Amazing views
Jul 13, 2015 near Flagstaff, AZ
Been to Mexico, headin' to Utah
May 22, 2014 near Flagstaff, AZ

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Check-Ins

Jul 28, 2018
Robert Brzezinski
Oct 8, 2017
Dustin Vasquez
very nice riding. a bit ricky in the beginning but good considering its a boulder field - watch your pedals. enjoy the down. 17mi
Aug 6, 2017
Erika Scott
20mi
Jul 21, 2017
Michelle Blackard
Jun 13, 2017
Jim D
Nov 8, 2016
Matt Bailey
Sep 27, 2016
David Simson
Sedona trip with darius, nate, hil, Darren, kent 2016 — 11h 00m
Sep 27, 2016
nathan dollick
challenging climbs, but well worth the veiw and super fun decents!