August 2023
Hiking Yavapai
Stan Bindell

Mormon Mountain

The hardest part of the Mormon Mountain Trail is finding the trailhead. The first problem is that the old directions in The Arizona Highways Hiking Guide say to take Forest Road 90 from Lake Mary Road in Flagstaff. I and other hikers couldn’t find Forest Road 90, as apparently it’s been renamed Mormon Mountain Lake Road.

The second problem is that once you’re on Mormon Mountain Lake Road there is no sign on the road for the turnoff to the trailhead. There is a sign for Dairy Springs Campground, however, and that’s where you’ll turn and go six-tenths of a mile to the trailhead.

Mormon Mountain Trail offers a lot of goodies for the hikers who can find it. There are great views of Mormon Lake through the pine forest, and there are aspens and a beautiful meadow toward the top. The trail can have a multitude of flowers at the right time of year, usually in June.

The six- to eight-mile hike rises from 7,233 to 8,449 feet, giving hikers a good workout, especially since the trail is only partly in the shade. This is also not one of Flagstaff’s busier trails, but expect to run into some hikers. Elk and other wildlife also use this area.

Mormon Mountain Trail connects with the Arizona Trail, giving you a 28-mile scamper from here to Flagstaff. Mormon Mountain Trail comes out on Forest Road 648, which leads to the top of Mormon Mountain if you take a right when you come to that junction.

Cool attractions

When it gets too hot in Yavapai County, Flagstaff offers respite on cool-weather trails. Three other trails of varying length that I’ve done this summer are all off Snowbowl Road.

Veit Springs Trail is a 1.6-mile loop to the old Jenks Cabin site. This easy trail has plenty of aspens, and rock art can be found. It also leads to the Lamar Haines Memorial Wildlife Area, with a plaque about the naturalist. The elevation at Veit Springs is about 8,500ft.

When I veered off the Veit Springs Trail, along an unnamed trail that follows the power lines, I came on a bear and two cubs. I’d just came down a hill and saw them before they saw me. I blurted out my amazement, and the bears, which had not seen me, scurried away, more afraid of me then I was with them, though they left me with a certain unease. It was an exciting moment.

San Francisco Peaks is a 15-mile round-trip on the Arizona Trail, but it’s in-and-out, so you can turn around whenever you like. This is up at almost 9,000 feet, and while there are a few small ups and downs, there isn’t much elevation change along this trail, one reason it’s my workout trail during the summer — easy to get lots of mileage.

Kachina Peaks Wilderness Trail is one of my favorite trails and I do it at least once year, one of the best trails to do when it’s hot because it’s up at 8,600-9,350ft, and there are plenty of shady spots, including a small cave just off the trail.

Flagstaff Hikes rates this 9.8-mile hike as hard. There are quite a number of ups and downs on this trail. It’s is worth seeing because of the abundance of aspens and ferns that grow more than six feet high during the later parts of the summer.

Unfortunately 4.5-5 miles into the trail last summer’s fire impacted part of this forest. It looks ghastly, and part of the trail has been reconfigured.

Kachina Trail has some wonderful meadows with great views of the mountains above.

Stan Bindell is always looking for a good hike. If you have one, contact him at thebluesmagician@gmail. com