FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Sandy Canyon is an easy hike minutes from Flagstaff that offers canyons, meadows, caves, flowers and butterflies.
The great part of Sandy Canyon is that the three mile hike is not long and it is part of the Arizona Trail. Hikers can do as little or as much as they like. The Arizona Trail is 790 miles and is open to hikers, equestrians and bikers, but no motorized vehicles.
The Arizona Trail sign tells those on it that they are responsible for their own safety and preparedness. It also warns those on the Arizona Trail that they may need route finding skills and may face unexpected situations such as weather, natural hazards venomous creatures and lack of water. Dogs are allowed on the trail, but must be leashed.
The sign does not mention anything about fire, but with multiple fires going on in the state right now, those headed for sections of the Arizona Trail may want to check for fire for the section they are planning on visiting.
But back to the Sandy Canyon Trail – which begins at Canyon Vista Trailhead with a pine forest and a clear view of the San Francisco Peaks. The Sandy Canyon trail begins in four tenths of a mile with the Arizona Trial picking up at 1.4 miles.
Not far into the Sandy Canyon Trail the pit climbing area is there for those who love climbing.
Soon a sign pops up letting hikers know one way will take them 3.6 miles to Flagstaff and another will take equestrians 11.6 miles to the Cosnino underground bypass.
The Sandy Canyon Trail, part of the Coconino National Forest, starts by skirting the rim of Walnut Canyon as the trail heads north before dropping into Sandy Canyon. Irises, wild irises, occasional aspens and the caves entertain those on the trail. This section of the Arizona Trail is mostly flat with some mild ups and downs. The trail goes in and out of shade, but going into the caves gives visitors a feeling of dropping about 15-20 degrees.
The Sandy Canyon Trail is 5.5 miles down Lake Mary Road. The trail begins at the back of the Canyon Vista Campground. Parking is just outside of the campground because there is no parking in the campground for those not camping.