Posted by: Sandy Steinman | October 11, 2016

Coconino National Forest Fall Color 10/11/16

 Coconino National Forest  reports

Flagstaff Ranger Distict Fall Color Update: October 11, 2016

The fall color season for the Flagstaff is in full swing around Mt. Elden and the San Francisco Peaks. There is strong color in Lockett Meadow, Hart Prarie, Schultz Pass, Snowbowl Road, and around the north side of the Peaks in the area of Bear Jaw, Reese, and Abineau canyons. Color is starting to fade in the Inner Basin. Trees are beginning to turn around the Snowbowl.


Tuesday observations of Mount Elden show that color at the top is beginning to fade or drop as color moves downslope, but there is still some color for all the east slope trails. There are great views along Elden Lookout Road and the slopes below the lookout tower. The eastern ridgeline is colorful along Sunset Trail. Color progress is approximately a week earlier than last year. Recommended trails for viewing fall color on Mount Elden:

Schultz Pass shows fantastic color on the lower flanks of the San Francisco Peaks along Weatherford Canyon and Schultz Peak. Aspens near the road are nearing peak color or at peak color. Recommended Schultz Pass area trails:

Lockett Meadow, the Inner Basin and the north side of the San Francisco Peaks have mostly turned. Most trees are at or past peak color and losing leaves along Inner Basin Trail. Leaves are dropping fast in the Inner Basin and along the trail. Color may last another week along lower sections of the trail, some pockets at higher elevations, and Lockett Meadow. Recommended trails, routes, and areas for viewing fall color on the San Francisco Peaks:

  • Inner Basin Trail moderately strenuous hike into the Inner Basin of the San Francisco Peaks. High clearance vehicle is recommended on Lockett Meadow Road. Trees are varied to just turning to peak color to past peak color all along the trail. Through the switchbacks and into the Inner Basin there are a lot of trees peaking, while others are still turning. A few groups of aspens in the Inner Basin have dropped their leaves, and many are past peak. Most of the trail up to Jack Spring and the snow shelters will be colorful for another week or two, but this is likely the last weekend for the Inner Basin.
  • Lockett Meadow campground and day use area in a meadow in the interior of the San Francisco Peaks with access to Inner Basin Trail. High clearance vehicle is recommended on Lockett Meadow Road. Color is at peak, nearly all gold, with a few trees still a bit green and a few dropping leaves.
  • Abineau-Bear Jaw Trails Loop strenuous hike on the north side of the San Francisco Peaks. Trees are at or just past peak color along Waterline, especially at upper elevations of Bear Jaw Canyon and along the Waterline. Leaves are falling, but lower elevations of the loop are peaking or still turning. While Abineau doesn’t have the same large groves and aspens that Bear Jaw and Waterline have, the golden leaves drifting down through the intimacy of the denser mixed conifer forest along the trail is magical.
  • Around the Peaks Loop scenic driving loop around the north side of the San Franciso Peaks. High clearance vehicle required to complete the loop due to the rough and rocky nature of the road. Good fall color viewing can be found on the smoother parts of the route accessible to low clearance vehicles at the eastern and western ends of FR 418.


Snowbowl Road was awash with color over the past weekend, nearing the peak, particularly Aspen Corner. The western flanks of the San Francisco Peaks are turning, and Kachina Trail is quite colorful. Aspen Loop and trees along the ski runs up the mountain from the lodge are turning. The Arizona Snowbowl Skyride will remain open through October 16. See the Arizona Snowbowl website to see current colors on the lift webcams and more details about the Skyride.

Color is fantastic with large groups of aspens peaking or near peak around Hart Prairie, but Aspen Loop is just beginning to turn. The Arizona Trail between Bismarck Lake and Aspen Loop (at the Snowbowl) is a great way to experience the fantastic color and views of the San Francisco Peaks and Kendrick Mountain.

There is great color on Kendrick Mountain and hikes should be rewarding for another week or so.  Visit Fall Color on Kaibab National Forest for details about fall color in the Williams District and elsewhere on our neighboring Forest.

The higher elevations of the San Francisco Peaks trails will be much chillier than Flagstaff. Be prepared for temperatures 10°F to 20°F cooler than Flagstaff, even chillier on the upper reaches of Humphreys Trail. Dress in layers and carry at least two quarts of water for a half day hike. Watch the National Weather Service forecast closely. The weather forecast may change unexpectedly:


Mogollon Rim Ranger District Fall Color Update: October 7, 2016

The Mogollon Rim reports maples are turning in the Dick Hart Ridge and Dane Ridge area within a few miles of the Rim Road (FR 300). This should be a beautiful weekend to go out to explore the area, as many of the trees will be approaching their peak. The maples can be spotted in the draws from the ridge roads (FR 139 and FR 321), and hikes into the draws at the southern ends of the Cabin Loop trails should be rewarding.

Aspens are turning north of the Buck Springs cabin (137), and fall color is good in McClintock Draw on the Barbershop Trail.  The meadow at the bottom of FR 321C and FR 218C should also be a nice area.

There are lot of oaks changing as well as a few others out in the Potato Lake area and along the Mogollon Rim.  There are very prettyy oaks on the route to way to the Tramway and Maxwell trailheads (the roads get rough close to the trailheads). Everything was changing in the East Clear Creek drainage as well, including maples, oaks, and willows. The maples are peaking or past peak and will soon have dropped all their leaves.


Note there is a an area closure for the Pinchot Fire. Houston Brothers and northern portions of Fred Haught and U-Bar trails are closed. Barbershop Trail is a good choice for finding maples and fall colors. Winds are typically from the southwest. Roads and trails north and east of the fire may be smokey at times, and smoke settles in nearby draws and canyons in the evening.

Watch the National Weather Service forecast closely. The weather forecast may change unexpectedly:

Red Rock Ranger District Fall Color Update: October 11, 2016

Oak Creek Canyon, the red rock country around Sedona, and the Verde Valley are at lower elevations and further south than Flagstaff and the Mogollon Rim. Color changes run later in the Red Rock Ranger District, generally from mid-October through early November.

The most recent report is fall color has barely begun in the upper reaches of Oak Creek Canyon. Everything is still green. Reports from this past weekend from West Fork of Oak Creek shows trees beginning to turn. A recent report from lower Sycamore Canyon (Parsons Trail) is that the trees are showing a hint of color, but are mostly green. Reports from the Sedona area are that the trees are still green.

Warning: West Fork of Oak Creek is incredibly busy in the fall season, and cars waiting an hour or more for available parking creates serious traffic congestion on the narrow and winding SR 89A, particularly on the weekends. The best time to visit is early in the day mid-week.

Watch the National Weather Service forecast closely. The weather forecast may change unexpectedly:

Keep an eye on this page and @CoconinoNF on Twitter for updates through the fall season.


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