This is a hike into the heart of the San Francisco Peaks, just north of Flagstaff, in the Coconino National Forest. The Inner Basin trail is designated Trail #29. The trail starts at Lockett Meadow.
On the way up the mountain, you'll have a pretty good view of Sunset Crater. Except for you, driver- keep your eyes on the road! Let your passengers describe the scenery for you.
Hike up the Waterline Road, which is an old dirt road that eventually intersects with the Weatherford Trail. A sign on the trail reads: "This road serves as the route for the waterline from springs in the Inner Basin of the San Francisco Peaks to the city of Flagstaff." Be sure to check out all the names that people carved into the aspen trees in years past. It's interesting that the majority of the names are Spanish. Please avoid the temptation to add your name to the collection.
If you're planning to camp in the campground, get there early and stake out your spot. One time, my girlfriend and I drove around and around looking for a place to camp, but we had gotten there too late. Every space was filled, so we had to drive part of the way back down the mountain to find an open spot to set up camp.
I usually hike as far as the big, open meadow of the Inner Basin, elevation 9,400'. There is a small, three-sided wooden shelter there. It's a good place to have a seat and rest. There are great views of the Painted Desert to the northeast.
In 2005, on June 1st, I hiked up as far as I could into the Inner Basin. However, I didn't make it to the Weatherford Trail. The trail was still covered by deep snow! I hiked across the snow for a while, for perhaps another half mile to a mile, but then I lost the trail under all that snow. It was time to turn around.
Length: 3.9 miles from trailhead at Lockett Meadow to the Weatherford Trail.
For more pictures of the Inner Basin, click here.