Lockett Meadow - Flagstaff, AZ

The last few years I've taken a solo birthday trip around the end of September, beginning of October. It's one of my favorite traditions and I love to visit new places during those trips. September and October are, in my opinion, the best months to visit most places because the changing of the seasons means they are less crowded and hopefully bursting with fall colors. 

Last year I visited Lockett Meadow near Flagstaff, AZ for the first time and I timed it just right for the beautiful golden aspen! Fall is my favorite season and all of my aspen dreams came true during that trip. 

Lockett Meadow near Flagstaff dotted with yellow golden aspen and green pine trees

Lockett Meadow is wildly popular so I recommend visiting during the week because the narrow, rocky mountain road is quite congested during the weekend. They typically have a National Forest ranger at the entrance of the road allowing a certain number of vehicles up to the trailhead. The road will also close for the season once snow falls so make sure you're checking in with the Coconino National Forest website

Orange and grey tent set up surrounded by golden aspen trees
A stand of golden aspen trees in Lockett Meadow near Flagstaff, AZ

I camped at Lockett Meadow Campground for two nights and enjoyed being surrounded by aspen trees. Since I got there on a Thursday there were plenty of camping options. Again, if you come on the weekend, come early because these sites fill up fast and it's first come, first serve.

As soon as I set up camp I made my way to the trailhead to hike the Inner Basin Trail which has been called the most beautiful fall trail in Arizona. The trail weaves through a thick aspen forest climbing to the Inner Basin at 9,792 feet.

Sunlight peeks through a thick stand of white barked aspen trees with yellow fallen leaves on the ground

This trail was so stunning, I hiked it twice! The next day I hiked it again, earlier in the day and it was just as beautiful.

A hand holds a single golden aspen leaf with aspen trees and pines in the background
Golden aspen trees on either side of a dirt forest road near Inner Basin near Flagstaff, AZ

The fall colors were near their peak, some trees had already started to lose their leaves while others were just turning golden and red. I seriously couldn't believe my luck in timing! The trail to Inner Basin continues to Humphreys Peak, a summit I have yet to reach but I promised myself that I'd take this route whenever I was ready to tackle it.

I enjoyed a quiet final evening back at my campsite. Once the sun set and the temperature dropped the elk herds came out! I could hear the males bellowing in the meadow.

Two socked feet hang in a hammock among golden aspen treesView looking up at the sky surrounded by golden aspen trees while lying in a hammock

The next morning I took it slow and sipped coffee while I did some painting of the scenes from the previous day. I still couldn't get over the stunning fall colors, it was truly beautiful and I felt grateful I could experience it.

Watercolor painting of the fall leaves covering the mountain, yellow, red, green
Sunset over Lockett Meadow before the elk came out


Lockett Meadow is a "must hike" for fall colors. It's definitely one of the most beautiful trails in all of Arizona. I wish I would have been able to visit again this year but revisiting my trip from last year has made me realize I need to make next year's trip a priority!


Inner Basin Trail - Lockett Meadow Trailhead

Date hiked: October 1 & 2, 2020

Total miles: 3.5 miles, out and back (plus 0.5 to the Inner Basin)

Elevation Gain: 775 feet

Land Acknowledgement: Ancestral lands of the Navajo, Havasupai, Kaibab-Paiute and Hualapai peoples.

1 comment

  • Did you know Lockett meadow is the only place in Arizona that has Kentucky Blue grass. My life long friend Joe Lockett told me his Father and Grand Father brought there and broad cast it many years ago, and that’s how it got there.

    Dell Owens

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published