Sandys Canyon Hiking Trail to Walnut Canyon
★★★☆☆ Easy / Flagstaff Area:
“Twisted” cliffs, punctuated with small caves, make hiking Walnut Canyon seem a bit surreal. Flanked by Dali-esque rock formations, the easy Sandys Canyon Hiking trail rambles along the base of a gentle canyon to Fisher Point. Here a bizarre 100 foot cliff looms, gnarled and frozen.
TRAILHEAD: Canyon Vista Campground, Lake Mary Road, Flagstaff • DIFFICULTY: EASY • DISTANCE: 2.7 MILEs (5.4 Miles RT) • APPROX. TIME: 2.5-3.5 HOURS • ELEVATION GAIN: 600 Feet (43 stories) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 702-810 • BEST TIME OF YEAR: April – November • PETS: YES • KID FRIENDLY: yes • FACILITIES: at campground • FEES: None
It’s always pleasant to hike along the flat base of a scenic canyon. And even better when that canyon is flanked by molten-looking rock formations. The hike through Sandys and Walnut Canyons to Fisher Point – on the Sandys Canyon and Arizona Hiking Trails – is one of the better canyon base hikes. After a short descent to the canyon floor, this hike is almost completely flat. Plus it offers a plethora of bizarrely tiered and twisted cliffs to gape at, and small caves to explore.
To get to Sandys Canyon Hiking Trail, take the half-mile Canyon View Access Trail (which begins directly behind the Canyon View Campground). This pathway is level and easy, skirting the rim of Sandys Canyon. There are spectacular views from this access trail – of Sandys Canyon and an insanely large talis field just beneath the ledge. It’s mind boggling to think where all those boulders came from, and imagine them tumbling down! The access trail ends at Sandys Canyon Hiking Trail.
From here Sandys Canyon Hiking Trail makes a short, moderately steep, descent to the canyon base. This is the only non-level section. Once in this valley the going is easy, along a flat, even pathway surrounded by wide grassy fields and towering stone walls.
The mile-long Sandys Canyon Hiking Trail ends at the Arizona Trail. Turn left/north at this intersection (away from Marshall Lake) to reach Fisher Point, the highlight of the hike. Just a little over a mile further on (after the Arizona Trail forks gently to the right), this gargantuan cliff looms over the scenic valley. Beneath the hundred-foot gnarled walls, a small cave begs to be explored. This is a truly unique spot!
You can chose to turn around here (for the above noted mileage), or continue hiking further north, through Walnut Canyon, on the Arizona Trail. Beyond this point the path becomes narrower and a bit more overgrown. But the canyon continues to be spectacular. Another interesting cave worth exploring is located about a half mile further along.
Fisher Point can also be accessed by taking the Arizona Trail north from Marshall Lake.
Walnut Canyon is named for the many species of native Walnut Trees that grow there, including the Black Walnut. Yum! We also came across wild Rosemary and Sage.
Click here to download a trail map. (Note: Walnut Canyon’s Fisher Point Cliff is located on the Arizona Trail – 1.2 miles north of where Sandys Canyon Hiking Trail intersects it. Fisher Point sits near the northernmost point of the AZ Trail shown in this downloadable map.)
Directions: From the intersection of 89A and Lake Mary Road (in Flagstaff) turn south onto Lake Mary Road and drive 5.5 miles to the Canyon Vista Campground (on the left/east side of the road). Trailhead parking is located just outside the campground. To access Sandys Canyon Hiking Trail walk to the back of the campground and take the half-mile Canyon Vista access trail.
- Canyon, Cave, Cliffs, Dayhike, Easy, Flagstaff, Rock Formation, Valley
- October 2, 2015