Attraction of the Week: The Beautiful Trails at Northern Arizona’s Fort Tuthill County Park
Fort Tuthill, a beautiful 413 acre Northern Arizona park located in Cococino County just a few miles outside of Flagstaff, offers plenty of amenities including tennis, basketball & volleyball courts, an amphitheater, picnic shelters, an adventure course, and several miles of hiking and biking trails. All of these wonderful activities are in the beautiful setting of a gorgeous ponderosa pine forest.
The picturesque setting of Flagstaff is much different than the hot desert scenery you find throughout much of the state. The gorgeous cool summer temperatures (high 70’s-low 80’s) and snowy winters combined with beautiful forest scenery lead to a perfect year-round recreational spot for both residents and tourists seeking a cool summer escape and a snowy winter playground.
Visiting Fort Tuthill Park is a fun and free activity to add into any Flagstaff/Northern Arizona vacation itinerary. Here you’ll enjoy excellent views of the San Francisco peaks and ponderosa pines on the trails, in addition to having plenty of events and amenities to look forward to throughout the year. The best part of visiting Fort Tuthill, and Flagstaff in general, is that the activities change along with the changing seasons, so you can bring your bike during the summer season and change over to skis during the winter!
There are new exciting activities to enjoy all year, so you will never get bored. Although you can enjoy the park any season, the summer is especially enjoyable thanks to the beautiful, cool, dry temps that Flagstaff experiences. Phoenix residents will love the ability to enjoy their favorite recreational activities without having to set the alarm super early or wait until sunset.
During the summer months, the park is alive with all sorts of events including a spectacular free 4th of July concert courtesy of the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, a rodeo, and the popular annual Cococino County Fair. Summer weather is perfect for biking, jogging, tennis, volleyball, picnics, and the Extreme Adventure Course, an obstacle course featuring ziplines, swings, and bridges set high up in the pines.
During the snowy winter months, you will be able to enjoy the park in a completely different setting. Grab your sled, snowshoes, or cross country skis and head out on the trails to enjoy your own private winter wonderland. Flagstaff is one of the snowiest US cities with an average of more than 100+ inches per year, thus giving you more than enough opportunities to enjoy your favorite winter sports.
The highlight of Fort Tuthill is the 7 miles of multi-use trails that you will be able to enjoy year round. The trails are great for hiking, biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. Listed below is a brief overview of the 3 main trails.
Soldier’s Trail – This moderately challenging 5 mile trail features a few small hills, but should be okay for most experienced cyclists. It’s a good long distance running option for those seeking a challenge. To access Soldier’s Trail, you will start on the Flagstaff Urban Trail system, where after traveling 1/2 mile or so, you will come across the start of Soldier’s Trail.
Bridge Trail – The shortest option is the mile long Bridge Trail, an enjoyable nature trail with some great views along the way. This trail connects to the Soldier’s Trail in the Southwest section of the park. This trail is better suited for walking rather than biking and equestrian use due to the rocky terrain.
Highlands Trail – The Highlands trail is a 3.8 mile option which travels from Ft. Tuthill to the Kachina wetlands. A portion of the trail covers the top of a mesa where you will take in great views of the ponderosa forest. This is one of the best trails for spotting wildlife. This trail is suited for hikers and more advanced mountain bikers as there are many steep hills and rocky sections to navigate through.
Flagstaff Urban Trail System (FUTS) – Flagstaff is home to an extensive network of city wide trails known as the FUTS. This system of 50+ miles of trails can be found throughout the city in varying lengths and difficulty levels. The trails are wide and well-maintained, which means they are perfect for walking, jogging, skiing, or biking.
At Fort Tuthill, you will find a nice relatively flat section of the FUTS which travels 5 miles into the Flagstaff downtown area. The trail is mostly flat, quiet, and very scenic. As you bike, run, or snowshoe along the trail, you will take in peaceful views of the surrounding ponderosa pine forest and look ahead to great mountain views. Because this trail is so flat, it’s the best option at Ft. Tuthill for a leisurely biking outing. Long distance running is another option as you have 5 miles (10 round-trip) of uninterrupted trail with beautiful views and a mostly shaded setting. There are a few small inclines and hills, but nothing too drastic.
Fort Tuthill is a fantastic year-round recreational paradise with endless opportunities for fun no matter what time of the year you visit. Be sure to spend at least one day at Fort Tuthill on your next visit to Flagstaff or surrounding areas. No matter what season you visit, you are bound to enjoy the ample opportunities for recreation in this beautiful natural setting.
Have you ever visited Fort Tuthill? What are some of your favorite places to hike in Flagstaff?