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Prime and Vail Lakes, AZ

no permit
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Guide 15 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Flagstaff > Flagstaff SE
3.3 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Loop 4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,224 feet
Elevation Gain 50 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 4.25
Backpack Possible & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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
7  2009-02-14 Randal_Schulhaus
Page 1,  2
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Sep, Oct, Jun → 7 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  7:02am - 5:20pm
0 Linked
Nearby Area Water
Marshall Lake to Fisher Point
Marshall Lake to Fisher Point
0.8 mi away
5.0 mi
570 ft
Walnut Canyon - AZT #31
Walnut Canyon - AZT #31
0.8 mi away
17.7 mi
1,660 ft
Upper Lake Mary Narrows
3.1 mi away
Lakeview Connector Trail
3.1 mi away
1.0 mi
252 ft
Fisher Point via Sandys Canyon Trail
Fisher Point via Sandys Canyon Trail
4.3 mi away
4.3 mi
293 ft
Sandys Canyon Trail #137
Sandys Canyon Trail #137
4.3 mi away
1.0 mi
46 ft
Equestrian Bypass 87
Equestrian Bypass 87
5.0 mi away
9.0 mi
500 ft
Flagstaff - AZT #33
5.1 mi away
14.8 mi
1,927 ft
Walnut Canyon
Walnut Canyon
5.2 mi away
2.1 mi
650 ft
Pinegrove Campground
6.3 mi away
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Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
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 at all strenuous so it is perfect if you are bringing 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, as well as 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.

Note: 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.

Hike: 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 after about a quarter mile you will see Prime Lake, which you will definitely want to explore. Just make sure to get back on the middle road. Along this road there are some beautiful views of the San Francisco Peaks and Mount Elden to the northwest and Mormon Mountain to the south. 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 a shadows on some volcanic rocks and is a nice place to sit and enjoy the sounds of the ducks and frogs.

At the back side (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.

    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
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