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Prime and Vail Lakes, AZ

Guide 16 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.3 of 5 
no permit
113 16 0
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Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,224 feet
Elevation Gain -13 feet
Accumulated Gain 38 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.69
Backpack Possible & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
11  2020-08-28
Prime Lake Perkins Telescope
5  2018-09-08 MountainMatt
4  2016-08-07 JoelHazelton
5  2011-06-04 jkinnear
5  2011-04-10 fotogirl53
4  2011-03-22 hippiepunkpirate
7  2011-03-19
Marshall Lake to Prime Lake
5  2009-03-10 JoelHazelton
Page 1,  2
Author hippiepunkpirate
author avatar Guides 25
Routes 36
Photos 2,877
Trips 657 map ( 2,276 miles )
Age 36 Male Gender
Location Peoria, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred May, Sep, Oct, Jun → 7 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:31am - 7:34pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2019 Newman Fire4.9k

Prime time to Un-Vail this hike!
by hippiepunkpirate

Prime Lake and Vail Lake are located on Anderson Mesa, south of Flagstaff, near Lake Mary. Both are accessible directly by car, but I am providing a nice little loop hike that goes to both lakes plus an overlook onto Lake Mary from an easily accessed trailhead. This hike is virtually flat and is not strenuous, so it is perfect if you bring along small children. It is a very uncrowded area, so I recommend it if you are looking for an easy and relatively unknown hike in the Flagstaff area. It is worth noting that both lakes are relatively small and are more like marshes than lakes. Fishing is probably not an option, but ducks and frogs provide for some humorous ear candy. This hike uses some unmarked forest roads and a section of the Arizona Trail but is, for the most part, unsigned. Finding the way does require paying attention to the layout of the trails.

New fences have been put in to restrict the movement of cattle, not people. This entire hike takes place on public land. The fences have PCV pipe on the top wire to allow you to hop over them.

Heading east from the trailhead, the Arizona Trail snakes to the right, while two old two-track roads form parallels. The middle road will take you directly to Vail Lake, but you will see Prime Lake after about a quarter-mile, which you will definitely want to explore. Just make sure to get back on the middle road. There are some beautiful views of the San Francisco Peaks and Mount Elden to the northwest and Mormon Mountain to the south along this road. I have witnessed pronghorn antelope bouncing across the fields and heard the howl of coyotes as well along this section of road. A road will come in on your left with a sign for Vail Lake. Turn right. It is possible to walk the circumference of Vail Lake, but I recommend hopping the barbed wire fence and doing a half-circle around the east side of the lake to the backside. If you go early in the morning, the trees on the east side of the lake cast shadows on some volcanic rocks and are a nice place to sit and enjoy the sounds of the ducks and frogs.

At the backside (south side) of Vail Lake, there should a small unmarked foot trail that leads to the fence. Hop back over the fence and continue along this trail. When you come to a forest service road (probably 94860), turn right. When I was here in September 2008, the fields along this road were blanketed with yellow wildflowers. Be on the lookout for the trail marker for the Arizona Trail. Turn right on the Arizona Trail, which will take you to the lookout point on the edge of Anderson Mesa, which views Lake Mary, the Lake Mary Graben, and Mormon Mountain. From here, the Arizona Trail should take you back to your vehicle.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2008-09-09 hippiepunkpirate
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    Take Lake Mary Road south from Flagstaff to the turnoff for Marshall Lake and Lowell Observatory (they have a second location on Anderson Mesa). Stay on the pavement when FS 94860 and FS 128 branch off, and there will be the trailhead.
    page created by hippiepunkpirate on Sep 09 2008 8:38 am
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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