|Hiking||6.90 Miles|| 3 Hrs || ||2.30 mph|
|2,398 ft AEG|| || || |
An absolutely perfect autumn day in the Inner Basin! We started from the Lockett Meadow trailhead around 1:30pm ... the available day use parking spots were apparently all full as cars were parked down the road at the entrance to Lockett Meadow. However, since it was afternoon when we started, a couple of spaces had opened up already.
The Aspens were looking awesome. Most were already brilliantly golden, though some of the more sheltered trees still had green leaves, leading me to believe that it would be another week or two before their ultimate peak.
The hike up this old forest road was a steady slope up the first 1.75 miles (900 vertical feet) before reaching the junction of the Water Line Trail (a closed maintenance road). This junction is the entrance to the beautiful Inner Basin, though it remains densely forested with pine and aspen for an additional 1/2 mile before opening up the spectacular views.
We hiked only about a quarter mile into the Inner Basin, stopping at about the 10,000 foot mark to take a break. The trail continues an additional mile and 800 vertical feet to the junction with the Weatherford Trail where you can continue on to the highest peak.
We didn't have the effort for that, however, so we spent half an hour or so taking pictures and relaxing in the Inner Basin. With our uphill hiking behind us, it was borderline chilly, requiring me to put on a long sleeve shirt despite the sunshine.
The decent down the trail was quick and easy, taking only about 45 minutes.
It was a busy weekend, rarely hiking more than 5 minutes without meeting other hikers and dogs --- lots and lots of dogs! Many people had kids with them. A forest ranger hiking out of the meadow informed me that they are having a problem with too many off-leash dogs. Apparently, many of them get into fights with each other, and hikers have made many calls to the forest service voicing complaints.
The trail would probably be best hiked on a weekday if crowds bother you, but the amazing beauty of this unique Arizona spot is worth the inconvenience of a few people in my opinion. Late September and early October are prime time for the aspens.