A quick sneak-away from work
Flagstaff has developed an impressive network of urban trails that offer a wide array of easy and accessible recreational opportunities. Although I think of these trails as good running trails, I always encounter hikers, mountain bikers, and bird watchers. This trail is positioned within a shallow canyon and runs along the Rio de Flag, an intermittent stream that usually only flows after a significant rain storm or after the spring snowmelt in April or May. The trail is built mostly above the riverbed and follows an old road, making this trail wide and smooth for good footing.
This trail provides a quick escape from the busy city life. After a couple hundred yards into the trail, you begin to feel like you are no long in the city of Flagstaff. The sight of houses and the noises of busy streets disappear. You're drawn deeper and deeper into the mouth of the canyon and the riparian vegetation around you is beautiful and peaceful. The limestone walls of the canyon provide some interesting formations, some of which make a nice spot to scramble to the top of a ledge and have lunch. Towards the 1.0-mile point, you come upon a large pond with educational descriptions of the area. This is an excellent bird watching location. I've often seen bald eagles and other raptors, always different varieties of duck, and various swallows and swifts. But the serenity of this area is devastated by the roaring traffic of Interstate 40 close by and overhead on bridges. This section of the trail terminates just under the second bridge. But of course, you don't have to stop here. You can continue on towards another pond created by the City of Flagstaff sewage treatment plant. Oh yeah... keep in mind that the water of the Rio do Flag in this area is all reclaimed water... not ideal for drinking. It's pretty to look at, and the water fowl seem to like it... but I wouldn't recommend drinking it. You can connect with the AZ trail at this point coming out from Fisher Point. Traveling further east, the trail continues along the Rio until it dumps you out into beautiful wide open country.
At the trail head you can also cross the street and connect with the Sinclair Wash Urban Trail heading west across the Northern Arizona University campus.
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.