Southwestern Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
A view of the Inner Basin area with the San Francisco Peaks visible in the background. Photo Credit: Kate Watters.
Richardson's geranium (Geranium richardsonii) in the Inner Basin. Photo Credit: Kate Watters.
Red baneberry (Actaea rubra) in the Inner Basin. Photo Credit: Kate Watters.
Lockett Meadow / Inner Basin Trail #29
Forest: Coconino National Forest
District: Peaks Ranger District
Description: The Inner Basin Trail #29 begins at Lockett Meadow then follows a primitive road into the mountain’s now quiet Inner Basin. Trail #29 connects to the Weatherford Trail in 3.9 miles and leads into the Inner Basin on the eastern slopes of the San Francisco Peaks. The elevation range is 8,600-10,500 feet. The trail is within the Kachina Peaks Wilderness on the San Francisco Peaks. Recommended season of use is June through mid-September.
The San Francisco Peaks are actually the remains of a Pleistocene stratovolcano similar to Washington’s Mt. Saint Helens. From the Inner Basin's rims, avalanche tracks streak down the talus slopes. In 1889, C. Hart Merriam carried out an extensive biological survey of the San Francisco Peaks. Merriam and his expedition members arrived in Flagstaff on July 26, 1889. For the next two months, the scientists completed extensive fieldwork in northern Arizona. The incomparable biodiversity witnessed by Merriam and his party in this relatively small geographic area led to his first publications delineating "life zones" on a regional scale. Merriam believed that climatic gradients, especially temperature, largely determined what type of vegetative community would occur in any given location, and that these gradients were largely a function of latitude and elevation. Merriam used his work on San Francisco Mountain to extrapolate life zones for all of North America. He completed a map in 1893 delineating the major life zones of the continent. His conclusions significantly influenced early biological thought about the American west.
The Inner Basin contains a luxuriant sub-alpine environment and the Inner Basin Trail passes through a variety of striking and fascinating vegetation including extensive stands of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). Many shrubs grow in the area including willow (Salix scouleriana), gooseberry (Ribes pinetorum) and mountain snowberry (Symphoricarpos oreophilus). Delightful native wildflowers such as the silvery lupine (Lupinus argenteus), Richardson’s geranium (Geranium richardsonii), firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) mountain monardella (Monardella odoratissima), heartleaf arnica (Arnica cordifolia), and red baneberry (Actaea rubra) may be seen along the trail.
Safety First: Lockett Meadow and the Inner Basin Trail #29 are high elevation areas. As a result, inclement weather can occur at any time. Hikers should come prepared for rapid and sometimes unpredictable weather changes. Snow may be present in the late spring and early summer. Thunderstorms may form rapidly during the summer months. Access to shelters such as automobiles is limited to the Lockett Meadow area. The area is accessed by a steep, narrow mountain road, which may be closed if snow still blocks the road in the spring. The area may be closed during adverse conditions including adverse winter weather or during extreme fire danger. Visit the Coconino National Forest home page for information on current restrictions.
Directions: Drive northeast of Flagstaff on US 89 for 12 miles to FR 420 directly across from the Sunset Crater turnoff. Turn left (west) for about 1/2 mile, turn right (north) on Forest Road 552. Turn right at the Lockett Meadow sign and continue to the trailhead. This road is generally closed from late fall to early spring. Camping is available in Lockett Meadow Campground from mid-May through mid-October for $10 per night. Day use fees are $5 per vehicle. More information is available at the Lockett Meadow Campground web page.
Contact: Peaks Ranger Station, 5075 N. Highway 89, Flagstaff, Arizona 86004, (928) 526-0866; or visit the Coconino National Forest's Recreation - Peaks District web pages.
Closest Town: Flagstaff, Arizona.
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