Aspen Nature Loop In Flagstaff.

Hiking The Aspen Nature Loop In Flagstaff

For a stunning hike in high altitude look no further than the Aspen Nature Loop. Located on the western slope of the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff, Arizona this short trail leads hikers through open prairies and tall aspen groves.

Aspen Nature Loop is a local favorite especially during fall for the leaves turn from green to golden yellow during autumn. Other than being a fall staple this trail is a perfect choice for your summer evening or early morning outing with the family.

Keep reading to learn all you need to know about hiking Aspen Nature Loop. This guide covers everything from parking to connecting trails.

This hike is one of many easy hikes in Flagstaff. Visit 8 Short And Easy Hikes In Flagstaff, AZ for more.

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Aspen Nature Loop Stats

  • Hiking Distance | 2.32 miles
  • Difficulty | Easy
  • Elevation Gain | 297 feet
  • Total Time | 60 minutes
  • Permits/Fees | None
  • Trailhead | Aspen Nature Loop
  • Dog Friendly | Yes

Below is a map of the Aspen Nature Loop Trail.

Aspen Nature Loop Trail.

A small portion of the Aspen Nature Loop overlaps with a passage of the Arizona Trail. If you’d like to extend your hike you can hop on the AZT and take it to see Alfa Fia Tank, another short but worthy hike nearby.

Likewise if you find yourself hiking this passage of the AZT consider hopping onto the Aspen Nature Loop and taking it to Snowbowl. The section of trees between the loop portion and ski area is the most stunning!

Getting To Aspen Nature Loop Trailhead




The official trailhead isn’t so obviously marked for it begins from the same location as Humphrey’s Peak Trailhead at Arizona Snowbowl. Just keep this in mind when you’re looking for it!

Aspen Nature Loop is about 30 minutes from downtown Flagstaff. To get here you’ll head north west on Fort Valley Road (Hwy 180) and follow the signs for Snowbowl.

On the right side of the road you’ll see the sign for Arizona Snowbowl and turn right onto N Snowbowl Road. Follow the windy, paved road all the way to the ski area.

There are several parking lots here but the easiest is to pull into the first parking lot on your left- the lower parking lot 1. Once parked just head towards the ski area and you’ll see a large wooden structure holding a map and some wooden steps. This is where you begin!

Best Time To Hike Aspen Nature Loop

Wildflowers In Flagstaff Along Aspen Nature Loop.

The best months for hiking in the San Francisco Peaks are June-October. During summer everything is in bloom including the wildflowers. Depending on the daily high temperature you’ll be able to hike Aspen Nature Loop at any time of the day but I always suggest early morning or after dinner time on a clear evening.

This high of elevation means the weather can be unpredictable. Afternoon wind and rain commonly occur especially during monsoon season in July and August.

I’m not positive if the trail is open during winter, but Snowbowl does get snow which means people will be skiing. My best guess is that winter isn’t a good time to be hiking this trail.

Heads up!

Snowbowl can be anywhere from 10-15 degrees cooler than Flagstaff due to the elevation. This also means it could receive rainfall when it isn’t in the weather forecast for the city. Always plan for the worst and bring extra layers!

Preparation saves lives. Know where you are going ahead of time and always have a way to keep yourself on trail. One way to do this is with a GPS system or app like Gaia GPS.



You can download my Aspen Nature Loop hike and gain access to my library of all tracked hikes. Once downloaded, you can load it into your own trusty device for ease of mind!

Hiking The Aspen Nature Loop

From the trailhead you’re lead across the ski hill and under the lift. This area is very open and provides spectacular views to the east of Humphrey’s Peak, the tallest peak in Arizona.

There are a few spur trails that lead every which way. Try to avoid taking these and take time to determine which is actually the correct path. This will help the vegetation to re-grow but also keep you from getting turned around!

Once past the lift the trail veers left and down towards the patch of forest. You’ll want to head this way and be sure not to fully cross the ski hill because if you do you’ll end up hiking a very difficult and steep trail to Humphrey’s Peak.

Just remember you’ll need to veer left and down in order to hike Aspen Nature Loop.

Under the canopies of pine and aspen you’ll immediately gain some shade and hopefully a sense of peace. This portion of the trail leads you through the aspen groves and is the most scenic part of it all.

I love hiking when the sun is still high in the sky, shining through the tree tops and casting shadows across the trail.

For a majority of the time the trail remains even and flat. If there is any elevation change during this part it is hardly noticeable.

Eventually the trail leads you out of the aspen groves and into a large prairie where you can spot the peaks to the east again. To the west you’ll see a different mountain range off in the distance, creating a beautiful backdrop for photos.

The next section of trail is the loop portion. You’ll see a sign that says Aspen Loop and you just have to choose which way you want to go. I’m a creature of habit and like going clockwise on loops.

Sadly the loop portion doesn’t include aspens, only pine, but it is still beautiful. It is also less populated for most people just want to see the aspens then leave, especially when the fall colors are out.

Once you loop around you’ll cross the prairie again and head back into the aspen forest. Just retrace the rest of your steps back to where you started.

Final Thoughts On Aspen Nature Loop

I hiked Aspen Nature Loop solo this summer during the hottest week of the year. Luckily Snowbowl was much cooler than everywhere else and made for a wonderful evening hike!

Once my work day was complete I left the cabin I was staying at and drove up Snowbowl Road. I actually did Aspen Loop first and then stopped by Alfa Fia Tank on my way back down. The evening was perfect as the temperatures began to drop and a slight breeze rolled in which was just the icing on top.

I do want to return during fall when the leaves are a golden yellow! I’ll most likely connect both Aspen Nature Loop and Alfa Fia Tank for a longer hike and some solitude.

What do you think- have you hiked Aspen Nature Loop before or are you planning on adding it to your list? Share in the comments below!

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