The recently completed “Walnut Canyon Reroute” is officially open. This important initiative to take a
few miles of the Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT) off old forest roads south of Flagstaff, was a
successful collaboration between the Arizona Trail Association (ATA), Coconino National Forest, Arizona
Conservation Corps, Arizona State Parks & Trails, Flagstaff Biking Organization, Flagstaff Trail Faeries, volunteers, and Flagline
Trails. If you haven’t experienced this new ribbon of trail between Fisher Point and Old Walnut Canyon
Road Trailhead, get out there and enjoy it on foot, mountain bike or equine.
In the 2020 Flagstaff Trails Initiative Regional Trail Strategy this section of the AZT was identified as a
high priority need because old roads repurposed to trails are virtually impossible to maintain and does
not meet objectives for desirable recreation. Coconino National Forest Recreation Staff, using the
Regional Trail Strategy as a guide, approached Flagstaff Biking Organization for help with a new
alignment to address sustainability concerns and recreational needs and allow for the old road to be
completely obliterated thereby minimizing the possibility of vehicle incursions. We enlisted the aid of
the Flagstaff Trail Faeries, a mobile trail crew, to scout and propose a trail design. You can view other
recommendations made as part of the Trail Strategy here: http://flagstafftrailsinitiative.org/wp-
Matt Roberts and Kevin Okon of Flagline Trails used a combination of mini-dozer and mini-excavator to
rough in the new singletrack. The Arizona Conservation Corps were enlisted to help hand finish the new
tread and obliterate and naturalize 0.65-mile of old trail. Unless you look carefully, you’ll never notice
there used to be road and trail there! ATA staff and volunteers then finished nearly a mile of trail with
hand tools at a volunteer event in August. The Flagline Trails crew returned to finish the rest of the
tread, major brushing and closed the old trail at the junctions with brush and opened the new tread
after the monsoon rains let up at the end of summer.
This reroute is exactly 3.61 miles long, has beautiful flow through Ponderosa pine and Gambel oak tree
forest with occasional meadows. This segment is a nice alternative to the steeper and more challenging
Mt. Elden Dry Lake Hills segments of the AZT around Flagstaff and when combined with the Flagstaff
Loop trail provides for numerous loop opportunities.
Volunteers will be needed next year to finalize naturalization and return the old trail/road back to the
forest by covering with duff, rocks, branches, and replanting native species. The ATA will schedule this
opportunity once Flagline Trails has gone through with the mini-excavator to scarify all of the
compacted areas first. Please visit the ATA website at www.aztrail.org/volunteer to register for
volunteer opportunities and please keep an eye out for this opportunity to give back if you are
interested in learning about the art and science of trail obliteration and naturalization.
The ATA is grateful to be able to continue the long history of stewardship of this region of Arizona and
acknowledge the Hopi and Puebloan ancestral lands of Walnut Canyon.