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blueBlack High Country Tour to Bismark Lake

  4.7 ( 10 ) Favorite

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17.5 mile 28.2 kilometer loop
100% Singletrack


Ascent: 1,774' 541 m
Descent: -1,774' -541 m
High: 9,012' 2,747 m
Low: 7,666' 2,337 m


Avg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 15% (9°)


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Trail shared by Almonzo Wilder

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

Almonzo Wilder

E-Bikes Unknown

Features -none-


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).


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.


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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
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!

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 10 votes


in Mount Elden


  4.7 from 10 votes
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in Mount Elden


in Arizona


105 Views Last Month
11,591 Since Jun 4, 2013
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

Great trail for not so technical riders with great views!! Sep 12, 2013
Anonymous User
Anonymous User  
i am gonna be in Flagstaff for couple weeks, are there any M. bike groups in the area? Feb 17, 2014
Anonymous User
Anonymous User  
I'm a beginner/intermediate rider and this trail was the perfect amount of difficulty/challenge. A great ride! Jun 20, 2015

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