Hiking Red Mountain

Written by on April 11, 2016 in AZ Outdoor Adventures - 3 Comments

Of all the magnificent and breathtaking geologic sites around Flagstaff, Arizona, Red Mountain may not be very well known, but is definitely one of the most fun to spend a day exploring. Marking the halfway point between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, Red Mountain is easy to get to and a great hike for all ages and abilities. Red Mountain is about 45 minutes outside of Flagstaff on I-180; look for a small sign and a dirt road on the left that will lead you to the trailhead.

The hike starts in a sandy pine forest but soon turns to a narrow path between large cinder dunes that resemble two giant black waves about to swallow you whole. The cinders soon turn to rock as you reach a large staircase, which means you’re getting close to Red Mountain. Take time to enjoy the cinders, or take the alternate route around the staircase through the cinder field.

The trail is just over a mile long and brings you to the base of Red Mountain, a 750 thousand year-old cinder cone that has slowly eroded into a network of small slot canyons, washes, and hidden pathways made of red rock for you to explore.

What makes Red Mountain different from many other geological sites around Flagstaff is you can see what the inside of a cinder cone looks like, and climb your way into the middle of a volcano. Red Mountain is a natural playground that is easily accessible making it a great area for kids, dogs and anybody that is looking for an outdoor adventure.

Although climbing to the top is very difficult, and is not recommended, there are many good high lookout points to get a view of the networking of Red Mountain, the cinder field, and the backside of the San Francisco Peaks lying in the background.

Some of the terrain on Red Mountain can be steep and treacherous so be sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes with a good sole, and bring a snack and plenty or water because you will want to stay all day. The mountain faces northeast, and spends a majority of the day in the shade, which is nice during summer, but can be cold during early spring and late fall. Dress appropriately for high altitude climate and quick temperature changes.

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3 Comments on "Hiking Red Mountain"

  1. Alex Maca March 10, 2010 at 5:10 pm ·

    I think this is an incredible article. The author sounds so articulate and displays a colorful array of beautiful vocabulary. Bravo. Bravo.

  2. Patty Felter March 27, 2010 at 4:21 pm ·

    I will definitely check out Red Mountain the next time I’m in Flagstaff.

  3. Dawn M November 5, 2010 at 8:17 pm ·

    Wanted to say a big thank you. We just went on the Red Mountain hike, thanks to your wonderfully written article. It is every bit as lovely as mentioned.
    You forgot to mention that the pathway sparkles in the sun!

    Thanks again for one of the best hikes I’ve done in a long time.

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