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Inner Basin Trail #29, AZ

no permit
2.3k 261 11
Guide 261 Triplogs  11 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Flagstaff > Flagstaff NE
4.3 of 5 by 74
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 4.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,700 feet
Elevation Gain 2,369 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,460 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 12.45
Backpack Connecting Only
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5  2019-08-25
Fremont Peak via Inner Basin
23  2019-07-06
Humphreys via Inner Basin
3  2019-06-29 caragruey
10  2018-09-20
Humphreys via Inner Basin
16  2018-08-25 ddgrunning
9  2018-08-11 Nightstalker
14  2018-08-08 caragruey
9  2018-08-04
Humphreys via Inner Basin
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 22
Author MtnGeek
author avatar Guides 9
Routes 0
Photos 118
Trips 72 map ( 489 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Denver, CO
Co-Author joebartels
co-author avatarGuides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,834
Trips 4,261 map (21,471 Miles)
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep → 10 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  6:14am - 6:25pm
Official Route
41 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
by MtnGeek & joebartels

Likely In-Season!
Course of trail changed somewhere around 2010 - 2012. Description below reflects old alignment. Check the official route for your hike.

Originally known as Interior Valley and was once noted for its continually flowing springs. A disastrous fire in 1876 destroyed its splendid stand of Engelmann spuce, with the probable result that the springs are now intermittent.

This is Probably one of the prettiest hikes in the Flagstaff Area. It starts in Locket Meadow and ends up in the Inner Basin. This is the only place in Arizona you will be completely surrounded by mountains. It really feels like a 'Little Colorado.'

The Inner Basin is the middle of the crater of San Francisco Mtn, Arizona's only Stratovolcano. Surrounding you is Arizona's 6 highest points, and 4 highest mountains. As you enter the Inner Basin, from right to left you have Rees Peak (11,474 feet), Aubineau Peak(11,878 feet), Humphreys Peak(12,633 feet), Agassiz Peak (12,356 feet), Fremont Peak, (11,969 feet) and Doyle Peak (11,460 feet). Rees Peak and Aubineau peak are not real Peaks, just named high points on Humphreys ridge. This is the only place in Arizona that mountains higher than 11,000 feet completely surround you.

Old Trail
The trail you are on is an old forest service road. Only certain vehicles are allowed up this road. Horses and Bikes are allowed.

The hike in is a steady but easy climb the whole way. Thick forests surround you. The forest is a mix of firtrees and aspens. The ground is covered in ferns and grass. There is not one place you can see where you're going. There are no views until you reach the Inner Basin. If you hike when there is snowmelt, the spring is running, which adds to the beauty. In the fall the aspens are changing colors which makes for a photographers paradise.

New Trail
This is the most beautiful hike through aspen in Arizona for 1.7 miles. Then you merge into the old alignment which is a maintenance road. Even most of the die hard "I won't hike a road" snobs will be taken away by the beautiful scenery. Around 3.95 mi the road fades into a trail. The final 0.3 mi is a steep set of switchbacks up to the Weatherford Trail.

Camping is not allowed in the Inner Basin

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2002-05-20 MtnGeek & joebartels
  • FR22 Car Camping
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    FR22 Car Camping
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    Kachina Peaks Map
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  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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    100 Classic Hikes - 2007

Coconino FS Details
The San Francisco Peaks are actually the remains of an extinct volcano. Millions of years ago this great mountain was shattered by an explosion similar to the one that devastated Washington's Mt. Saint Helens in 1980. Inside the now quiet caldera a lush alpine environment has blurred evidence of that cataclysmic event.

The trail into the heart of the ancient volcano begins in beautiful Lockett Meadow. From this island of emerald ringed with aspens and high peaks it follows a primitive road into the mountain's now quiet Inner Basin and then connects to the Weatherford trail. Here, extensive stands of aspens cover the steep slopes of the old caldera coloring them solid gold in early fall. In spring and summer, wildflowers add a sprinkling of blue, red and yellow. From the basin's rims, avalanche tracks streak down the talus slopes and remnants of old lava flows bear witness to the mountain's cataclysmic heritage.

Snow may remain here even into summer. Cross-country skiers continue to ski as late as June in some years. Hiking is the most popular way of visiting this beautiful and unique environment; however, and hikers begin coming to the basin before the snows have completely melted from the trail.

Animals you may see in this high country include porcupine and elk. Black bears have been known to stroll right through groups of picnickers without so much as a glance at their lunches. The hermit thrush sings his best here. The climb to this high mountain place, where spring comes late and fall arrives early, is moderate but steady, but the reward is worth every bit of the effort.

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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.

Most recent of 70 deeper Triplog Reviews
Inner Basin Trail #29
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Fremont Peak via Inner Basin
Zero storms forecast = another mid-summer Peaks hike.

We got started from Lockett Meadow a little after 8:00, and headed up Inner Basin Trail. Only saw a few people. As usual, the aspens were nice to walk through. When we reached Weatherford, we took a right and headed up to Doyle Saddle, where we took a break before beginning the off trail portion up to Fremont. Basically followed the ridge southeast, then east, taking the path of least resistance through the trees. I like the easy scrambling in places. Once at the top, we took another break. I swore I could hear voices, and a few moments later, three more hikers appeared. We all chatted at the summit for a while before parting ways and heading back down to Doyle Saddle. Once back on Weatherford, it was an easy hike back down through the Inner Basin back to the trailhead. Perfect weather today, nice breeze at times. A little buggy at the top, but not too bad.

Is there no hike description for just Fremont Peak? I didn’t see one, but maybe I skipped over it—I want credit for my peak!!! :lol:
Inner Basin Trail #29
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Agassiz from Inner Basin
Do you ever get the feeling that I'm not ready to let go of winter just yet? :sweat:

Last week I was able to determine that there was still snow on the route to Agassiz, so I decided to attempt my first daytime summit.

The weather and conditions aligned perfectly. After warm weather had saturated the snowpack last week, bitterly cold weather over the past couple of days froze it solid again. This allowed for much easier travel than the post-holing last week, where microspikes provided traction and there was no breaking through the re-frozen snowpack.

The wind died down for the day, but the temps stayed in the 40s, which helped keep the snow from softening up. Once getting above the treeline above Doyle Saddle, the snow cleared and I was able to do a couple of the Weatherford switchbacks on dry ground. Eventually I hit the final snow traverse. Nobody had done it yet this season, and I had already decided I wasn't motivated to do Humphreys, so I headed directly for the ridge above me.

The remains of the winter cornice provided a nice strip of snow straight up the ridge to the summit of Agassiz. There were a few thin steps so I think by next week this won't be fully snow covered anymore. At the summit, I enjoyed surprisingly calm winds, and somewhat hazy but still outstanding views.

On the way down, I re-confirmed that it is much, much easier to ascend an icy slope than it is to descend it. Nonetheless, I was happy to have an ice axe and the crunchy refrozen wind-packed snowpack allowed me to get some spike grips and make some switchbacks down to the trail.

Below the saddle, I switched to snowshoes and took a direct route skipping the switchbacks. The lower elevation snow had softened during the day and snowshoes prevented postholing. Surprisingly, the last 3 miles were the coldest on the day. The late afternoon sun just wasn't offsetting the temperature and wind which picked up quite a bit. Flexibility and options were the theme of the day, and I was able to finish the hike in a jacket, beanie, and gloves to stay warm.

I'll have to keep this one in mind for future spring ascents depending on the snowpack.
Inner Basin Trail #29
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Inner Basin Loop
It was June 3 last year when we bagged Humphreys from the IB [ photoset ] JUNE 3rd!

Nearly 2 months earlier in a year with significantly less snow I decided it might be fun to get up into the Inner Basin and maybe glissade down. Kyle and I grabbed our ice axes and crampons and headed for the mountains.

The Inner Basin is an extra challenge in the winter since the FS closes the road that accesses it. I was happy to explore FR 553, which is open seasonally from 9/1 to 12/31 for hunter access. Actually, it's open all year (winter weather permitting), but the gate between it and the inner basin is only open in the fall. There's a mile of miserable Hanging Gardens- type 4-Lo along the way to keep the riffraff out. We had to clear the road of a few winter deadfall trees today, but eventually we got just a couple hundred yards from where I had hoped we could get to, and started our hike from there.

The snow pack at the lower elevations was much greater than last year. But only in the sheltered spots. Up high it was clear that there was actually less snow than there was last June!

But it was the lower elevation snow pack that did us in. It was really pleasant and enjoyable to be here, but it was exhausting. 2-3 feet of snow along the trail made for some solid work. We didn't quite make it to the switchbacks that lead up to the Weatherford trail, which was an intermediate goal for the day. And there would be no glissading down the cirque! But it was still a few hours of fun in the spring snow.

Had I been hiking with snowshoes, it looked like getting all the way to the Doyle Saddle would be relatively straightforward. From there the traverse was mostly clear, with one good section of the traverse still snow-covered (but much less than last June!)

There will be snow on the trail now for a few good weeks, and probably well into late-May in sheltered areas. But now that I know I can get close to the IB, I suspect I'll head up earlier in the spring in the coming years. The IB is a special place when nobody else is there!
Inner Basin Trail #29
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10-30 mph wind throughout slowed me down to a crawl above treeline. Due to constantly manually blinking my eye along with the most people I've seen on the summit trail this late in the year.

Stopping at the top was a bad idea in retrospect. When I get cold the nerve damage from my accident clinches my hand up through the arm to the spine. Warmth on the ride home cured that bad boy!

Weatherford to Fremont Saddle in the trees ended up being the most relaxing part of the hike up and down. No wind or crowds!

Still among my favorite hikes. Thankyou sir Tortoise for a great day!

Probably peak by next weekend.
Inner Basin Trail #29
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Daniela and I got started from Lockett Meadow around 7:45 and headed up the Inner Basin trail. Nice and cool morning, but no wind. Daniela has been to Humphreys before, but only from the Snowbowl side, so this was all new territory for her. We took a snack break about 3 miles in, then continued on our way. By about 9:00, one large cloud was forming around Agassiz, which we kept an eye on. Around 10:00, we heard two fairly loud rumbles of thunder; we weren't too far from Doyle Saddle (or whatever we're calling the saddle between Fremont & Agassiz these days) so I told her we'd continue to there since we'd have cell svc and check the radar. At the saddle, I decided the weather was moving generally to the southwest, so we kept going.

At Humphrey Saddle, we encountered the hordes of people we expected, and had been thankfully free of up until that point. I told Daniela that we should be to the summit at 12:15, and we would have made it, but a little while later, I heard Daniela say "Isn't that Denny?" Yep, Denny, Joe, and Bruce were taking a break on their way back down from the summit. We all chatted for about 10 minutes, then resumed our way uphill. This was only Daniela's second hike over 10,000' but she seemed to be more comfortable today than she was the first time. As we approached the last little climb to the summit, much to Daniela's amusement, I broke into my traditional "jog" up that last part to the top. Not really a jog, but a fast walk, which felt to me like I was running underwater. We got to the summit at 12:20, rested for a while, then headed back down, relieved to get away from the Humphreys crowds.

Easy hike back down. At Doyle Saddle, I guessed that we would be back to the car at 4:30, and once again, missed it by 5 minutes, getting back to the car at 4:35. Great day for this hike, and to be able to do it in August with no real storm concern was a bonus.
Inner Basin Trail #29
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I felt like doing something brief before hitting the road toward home. Was camped at Lockett Meadow, so I decided to check out the "Inner Basin Viejo" -- the old trail alignment. (I'd done the new one last year in June, and had hiked the old trail many times, years ago.) The old trail is behind a gate that says "closed to motorized vehicles," or something like that, so I figured there's no rule against hiking it to see how it looks now. The gate is just a few yards north of the current trailhead, at the western end of the Lockett Meadow loop road. There's no Schultz Fire burned trees here, like on the new trail. There are quite a few trees down across the trail/road, but nothing too big to clamber over. Aspens and other vegetation are sprouting up in the middle of the trail, and I wonder how many years it will take before you can't find the trail any more. On the way up I had complete solitude and lots of birds around. On the way back I ran into a large group of backpackers, including kids of elementary school age and two dogs! They said they planned to camp at "a meadow we know about," where there is a spring not far above it. :o
Inner Basin Trail #29
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San Francisco Peaks Loop
Started hiking at 6a.m.
We summited Rees, Abineau and Humphreys; then descended on the Weatherford Trail to the Inner Basin. Lightning and thunder started right on the dot at 1pm. We had to hunker down under a rock outcropping on the upper Weatherford for a few minutes while the down strikes finished up their business and it was safe to proceed. The storm brought with it a violent hail barrage. This also passed quickly, leaving us with perfect weather to enjoy an early afternoon stroll through the inner basin.
Inner Basin Trail #29
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Inner Basin Waterline Trail
Three weeks later.... remember I said I wanted to make this my workout hike for the summer. Well I did it again and Kathy, Karl, Amy and Tugger decided to join me the day before. I was glad of that plus Karl drove. I am still not in the mood to hike alone; I should say my brain doesn't want to hike alone :lol: .

Kathy kept a pretty good pace. I guess she decided since I was in training mode, she was gonna really make me work out. I dragged the last mile up from Bear Jaw Canyon as I watched ahead to see if Karl, Amy and Tugger had stopped yet; and finally we made it to the spring box at Rees. For some reason I thot the spring box was at Bear Jaw Canyon thus we ended up hiking an additional mile... again. (Kelly and I ended up doing another mile 3 weeks ago too)

It hailed a bit at lunch and then rained so we had to rain gear up. It got cold so we decided to head back down. The rain let up and it finally warmed up enough so at the ten mile mark Kathy and I took off our jackets along with a small break before we finished our trek. It was, as usual, a glorious day on the trail and as great a hike as three weeks ago.

At the car we had our celebratory beer. As we drove into Flagstaff the skies opened up and it rained pretty hard. We met Amy's cohort in town and they had lunch at Cornish Pasty; what a cool place. On our drive back we could see the bright flames of the Brooklyn fire line to the east of I-17 as it was dark now. We also had a delay due to a traffic accident below Sunset Point.

Now don't be alarmed but I did not take any video and took very few pictures... mostly because I had taken them 3 weeks ago. I think I got my camera out five times. Even I'm surprised.

Inner Basin Trail #29
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This was just a glorified dog walk, as I was seeking a little quality time with the pups before I leave for the northern Rockies and I was feeling bad for making them endure the heat in the valley these last few days. The inner basin offered the quickest coolest temps we could reach in my estimate, so that is where we headed and pretty early too, in order to beat the unseasonably warm temperatures at the higher levels as well.

The conditions ended up being pretty good, as we were the beneficiary of some pretty good cloud cover at times. The trails were a little busier than I had thought they would be, but nothing like a weekend. There was not much snow lingering in the inner basin, however, there was some significant water flowing from what appears to be an overflow pipe in the Snowslide Spring drainage and it was creating quite the robust little stream for the pups to play and drink from. After an extended break, it was pretty straightforward hiking out and then a stop at Locket Meadow Tank to cool the pups down one last time.
Inner Basin Trail #29
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Inner Basin Waterline
hooked up with angela for a hike in the high country
this combo offered gentle uphill, beautiful aspen forest, shady canopy, and glimpses of great views
got going shortly after 9:00
hard to believe it's been four years since last on inner basin
enjoyed it just as much this time
hit waterline and took that all the way to abineau canyon
hadn't been on the part between inner basin and bear jaw
lunched at reese canyon, and enjoyed the views at the end of waterline
a quick break on the way down, and more aspen gazing in afternoon light
pleasant hike with good company :)
angela's triplog has a few more details

Permit $$
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Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To Inner Basin Trailhead
From Flagstaff take US 89 north to Sunset Crater Rd. Do not turn on Sunset Crater Rd. Turn left instead of Right. Turning left will take you on the forest service roads. There will be a sign on your left telling you different destinations and an arrow. Go straight until you reach a 'T'. Turn right (north). This road will turn west. Turn north when you come to a road with a sign that points to Locket Meadow. Follow this road all the way down, 6 miles I think into Locket Meadow. Once in Locket Meadow turn right and keep driving until you see a parking place for hikers. It is by the outhouse. Parking is on the left, the trail is on the right. A gate blocks the entrance for vehicles.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 173 mi - about 2 hours 59 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 278 mi - about 4 hours 27 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 26.9 mi - about 52 mins
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