About 15 miles (24 km) north of Flagstaff, on the way to the Grand Canyon, is the Arizona Nordic Village. There, you can snowshoe some 17 miles (27 km) of trails through a stunningly dense pine forest. You may cross paths with xc-skiers along the way, with a smattering of front country and backcountry yurts available to rent. Occasionally, you get long views through winter’s trees to the surrounding snowy San Francisco Peaks, remnants of a stratovolcano. These views make for an idyllic outing in a region that is of much spiritual importance to numerous Native American peoples, including the Havasupai, Hopi, and Navajo.
Snowshoeing Trails at Arizona Nordic Village in Flagstaff
The snowshoe and multi-use trails at Arizona Nordic Village range in difficulty and length from 0.3 to 3.5 mi (0.5 km to 5.7 km). You can purchase a trail pass for $5 to $20, depending on the day of the week and type of trail. Snowshoe rentals are available on-site, and dogs are also allowed on trails. So feel free to bring your furry friend along with you.
The trails at Arizona Nordic Village intersect at several junctions but have easy to follow signage. A map is available so that you can create your snowshoeing adventure. The route I chose to go and have described below is the Basalt trail > Volcano trail > AA trail > Lava trail > Magma trail > Fox trail > Cinder trail.
Basalt to Volcano Trail
I set out on the Basalt trail, a one mi (1.6 km) trail easily accessed from the lodge. The terrain was not difficult and would be great for beginners. It’s a mostly casual stroll with the trekking poles marking the snow, so it eased my heart rate up a little.
Before long, I came to the junction with the Volcano trail and took it, a total distance of 1.3 mi (2.1 km). A few more ups than downs, including some sustained climbs, marks this trail as an intermediate trail. I shed a layer on my core torso. The air temps in the lower 20s degree Fahrenheit being no match for a sun-dappled morning of physical exertion and keeping my body warm.
AA to Lava Trail
At the junction with the AA trail, I turned right and went up to the intersection for the Magma trail and Lava trail. I wanted to do the longer top section of the snowshoe trail system, so I put one snowshoe in front of the other and made my way out on the Lava trail. This trail is the most difficult snowshoeing trail at Arizona Nordic Village at 2.4mi (3.9km). Here, especially on the upper section, the terrain had me breathing heavy and my legs started to burn. An aspen tree protection project was a great reason to stop, with the sign indicating that deer and elk were fenced off. Keeping these animals away helps to protect the aspiring trees from becoming the animals’ next meal.
Later on, I came upon another snowshoer, she having as wonderful of a peaceful outing as I was having. She commented that we were soon to the top and that it was then pretty much down all the way back to the lodge. I liked that idea.
More vistas of the distant snowy mountains reminded me of the need to slow down. I paused and breathed in the air and listened to the trees. I observed birds flying through limbs and contemplated the volcanic boulders seeming inconsistency with the landscape. Generally speaking, appreciating that winter was upon me, though in a less-than-burly-blizzard-like sense.
Magma to Fox to Cinder Trail
At an altitude of 8000+ feet (2438 m), I was pleased that the hard climbing was over for the day. Back down I went, merging on to Magma trail, an intermediate 1mi trail (1.7km). It then connects into the Fox trail, an easy, 0.3 mi (0.5 km) trail.
Here, the forest opened up into sweeping snowy fields, and I saw more people on the trails. From the Fox trail, I snowshoed onto part of the Cinder trail, another easy 1.1 mi (1.8 km) trail. The Fox to Cinder trails served as the way back to the lodge, where gaggles of xc-skiers were coming and going on the trail system. More snowshoers were out and about on the lower trails, as well, some seemingly having their first go on the ‘shoes.
Two and a half hours of snowshoeing in Flagstaff, Arizona, was a solid physical workout. It cleansed my bogged own mind of detritus like work worries and family illnesses. Trees and wildlife surviving the season reminded me of resilience or the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.
Nature not only heals, but she also teaches.
Additional Trail and Apres Info
Arizona Nordic Village: For more info, everything you need to know before going can be found at the website, from trail use fees to rentals. Note: there are clean bathrooms inside the lodge and hot drinks.
Coconino National Forest: Officially, the Arizona Nordic Village is Coconino National Forest.
Matador Coffee Roasting Company: Along historic route 66, stop and get a delicious cup of fresh-brewed coffee, or some food, before/after snowshoeing.
Dark Sky Brewing: Dark Sky has an eclectic little tasting room in downtown Flag, complete with pizza offerings.
Lumberyard Brewing Company: A standard in Flagstaff’s craft brew scene, stop in for some grub and cheer at Lumberyard by the railroad tracks.
Have or would you go snowshoeing at Arizona Nordic Village in Flagstaff? What are your favorite trails in the area?