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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.