Two Pretty, Easy Trails
These Hikes Near Flagstaff Are Short And Sweet
June 1, 2019
We started taking our granddaughters hiking with us when they were five or six years old, so I know how important it is to find great hikes that are pretty, but easy enough for short legs. This time of year, you also want those trails to be in the high country - and even then they might get pretty warm in the afternoon. But these two hikes are short and sweet - so they're ideal for a summer day with or without kids.
My granddaughter Trinity told us about this one. She's a student at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, and she and her friends had gone to Picture Canyon and had a blast. This place is amazing - it's practically in town, and it's absolutely gorgeous, especially when there is a lot of water flowing.
To get there, go east on Route 66 from downtown Flagstaff for four miles, then turn right at the Auto Park sign to stay on 66. Turn left on El Paso Flagstaff Road; the parking area is about a mile down this road. There is dirt parking and a portable toilet.
The Tom Moody Trail
You actually have several options depending on how far you want to hike. Grab a map at the parking lot and it will really help. We started out heading right to the pond and looked around, then came back to the parking lot and started off on the Tom Moody Trail, which is a 2.8 mile loop.
As it happens, if we had continued along the creek from the ponds, we would have come to the waterfall very quickly. But a short way down the Tom Moody, another trail called the Don Weaver Trail intersects. If you go right here and head down the Don Weaver Trail, it takes you on a shortcut across the big loop that Tom Moody takes.
This trail takes you past the Petroglyph overlook and the pit house as well. You can hear the water rushing to your right on the first part of the trail, but you only get glimpses of it unless you take one of the many little side trails that go to the water's edge. When the water isn't high, this is where my granddaughter and her friends get photos by the water.
Rio de Flag Bridge
In less than a mile, you end up on a bit of a canyon wall, and you can see the beautiful little red Rio de Flag bridge before you zig-zag down the slope and cross the bridge.
After you cross the bridge, you're back on the Tom Moody Trail, which right here is part of the Arizona Trail. Follow this trail to your right after crossing the bridge. Further on, be sure to take another right when you see the sign that says "Tom Moody" - that's how you get to the waterfall. There are plenty of places to view the falls, but it's down in a very steep little canyon, so be sure to hang on to any kids you have with you. A fall here would be bad.
Shortly after leaving the falls area, you come to a place that says Historic Railroad Trestle, but it's just some logs that are the remains. A very short walk from there and you're back at the pond. But that walk is really pretty with Rio de Flag alongside the whole time.
Picture Canyon is free, and you can take dogs on a leash. It's a great place to spend time and I highly recommend it. Our dog Mochi enjoyed romping in the water and we all had a good time. The trail wasn't crowded at all, even at the waterfalls.
We discovered Griffith Spring several years ago, just after doing the Flagstaff Extreme Course at Fort Tuthill. To get there, drive south on 89A about two miles past the Flagstaff Airport exit and Fort Tuthill. You'll see the sign on the left side of the highway.
Some Great Rock Walls
There is a small trailhead parking lot and a vault toilet at the trail head, as well as a picnic table. We've been there in the spring and the summer, and it has never been crowded. We love it.
The trail is mostly through the pine forest until you go down into the little cut where the stream is, and it is gorgeous down there with some great rock walls. The stream cuts through the grass and the trail follows along, but eventually dead-ends. We like to wander along the stream as far as we can.
From the trail, you can see down into the little canyon, and as you go along, pretty soon you will see side tracks that go down to the stream. You can actually go right to the spring if you follow the trail, but it is basically just a wet spot in the dirt.
A Gorgeous Place
When we went there this past April, the water still had ice on it because of being down in the canyon. The grass was yellow, but still pretty, and the stream was flowing quite well. In the summer there is sometimes less water, but the grass is a brilliant green and the place is just gorgeous.
The actual trail is just one mile long and fairly flat - a very easy walk for almost anyone. It follows the small canyon down to a tank that forms the stream. This stream flows into Pump House Wash and eventually into Oak Creek. There may or may not be water, depending on rains. Either way, it's a nice place to take a little walk and enjoy the forest.
Griffith: A Civil War Veteran
The Coconino Forest website says that James Griffith was a Civil War veteran who came to homestead in Arizona in the late 1800s. The spring was part of that homestead, which was over 160 acres. What a lucky guy!
Keep An Eye On The Weather
If you're up near Flagstaff this summer, these two trails are quick and easy and worth checking out. Even though it's a lot cooler up there, it can still get warm, so remember to take lots of water, use sunscreen, wear a hat, and watch out for Monsoon storms. Trust me, it is no fun to get caught in a thunderstorm miles from the car. Been there done that. Keep an eye on the weather and play it safe.