The Bismark Lake hiking trail in Flagstaff, Arizona

The small city of Flagstaff in Northern Arizona, surrounded by the beautiful Coconino National Forest, is home to miles and miles of gorgeous hiking trails. Taking some time out to explore the natural beauty of the region via outdoor recreation is a must-do. Hiking within the rustic Coconino National Forest after several days of visiting the shops, restaurants, and attractions in this oftentimes overcrowded tourist town is a welcome respite. There are many beautiful high altitude mountain hikes just outside the city. Fall is the premier time to hike as the leaf peeping is incredible this high up. Bismark Lake is one of many great options.

Wonderful moutain views along the Bismark Lake trail in Flagstaff, Arizona

A relaxing, easy mountain hike

Why not escape the traffic, stores, and crowds for a little nature break along the scenic Bismark Lake trail? The Bismark Lake hike is one of several easy hikes in the area. It would be a perfect option for almost everyone due to the short distance and flat nature. Despite the high elevation of 8500 feet (exercising in high altitude areas can be much more difficult due to the air being thinner, and hence, less oxygen present), Bismark is only 2 miles long so it should be easy enough for anyone who is in basic shape and has given themselves time to adjust to the high altitude.

In comparison to Bismark Lake, many other trails in the area start out at 4+ miles, some at even higher elevations and many feature steep hills. Drink some extra water, don’t rush through it, and enjoy the gorgeous views. This hike is long enough to give you some peaceful alone time in nature, yet not long enough to take up your whole day. You will get in a great workout, without feeling run down for the rest of the day.

Aspen trees along the Bismark Lake trail in Flagstaff

A secluded hike far away from the tourist crowds

This peaceful trail is great because it doesn’t get as crowded as the more popular Snowbowl area hikes. Perhaps this is due to the long drive down an unpaved road to get to the actual trail? Plan plenty of extra time as it took us at least a half hour to travel up the unpaved road. Despite the inconvenience, the beauty of this hike is that it is so far away from everything else!

Aspen trees on the Bismark Lake trail in Flagstaff

Along the 2 mile trek, you will be treated to serene view of meadows, mountains, and pretty pine and aspen trees. During the summer, you will likely see many gorgeous wildflowers. Fall is a great time to take in the beauty of the changing aspens, which shine a brilliant golden yellow in the sun.

A hint of fall colors along the Bismark lake trail in Flagstaff
Aspens on the Bismark Lake trail in Flagstaff
Gorgeous mountain views along the Bismark Lake trail in Flagstaff

Plenty of wildlife, especially elk, are drawn to the area. Depending on the time of day and season you visit, you may see elk in the distance.

A perfect option for first time visitors

Overall, Bismark Lake is one of the top picks in the area for beginning hikers. It’s not strenuous, it’s scenic, uncrowded, and far away from the tourist congestion. What more could you ask for in a great hike? Almost any time of the year is a great time to plan your hike at Bismark Lake. During the summer, you will enjoy cooler temps due to the 1500ft difference in elevation. While in the fall, you will be able to enjoy the rare beautiful fall colors in Arizona. No matter which season you decide to visit, you will get in a rejuvenating workout and enjoy some beautiful mountain scenery.


Address: From Flagstaff take 180 N, turn right on FR 151 (Hart Prairie Rd), turn right again on FR 627 and follow to trailhead. Parking is free.