It’s a breezy—yet sunny—Flagstaff day in late September. The wind has a chill to it, but the sun (at our higher elevation) leaves the skin on my shoulders burning. My parents are in town again, this time for a weekend of biking and outdoor adventures. My dad, an avid trail rider, wants to try out the Flagstaff Urban Trail System (FUTS) for the first time. Sadly, I have not spent too much time on these trails and so I am excited to try them out.
What I expect is a leisurely trail ride through the city, but my father has another idea, one that involves many more miles of biking than what I am used to. So, we set off on a trail adventure.
We start from Sinclair Wash Trail, just off of Lake Mary Rd, one of the longest in Flagstaff. It runs through NAU campus, along Lone Tree Rd, and eventually meets up with I-40 as you travel East. We take it all the way past Route 66. It turns into the Arizona Trail after you cross Route 66 and continues into Buffalo Park.
The ride from Southwest Flagstaff to Northeast is mostly uphill. We stop sometimes for a drink of water or to take in the scenery. One of my favorite parts of the trip is when we reach the intersection of Sinclair and Arizona Trail. The trail splits off in two directions, and everywhere in between is covered in golden sunflowers. The overpass of the freeway looms over us in stark contrast to the silent field of flowers.
Another notable stop is when we exit the Arizona Trail by Sam’s Club. The trail comes out by some private property that we accidentally bike onto. An old man’s voice calls out to warn us from under the shade of a tree. He’s sitting in a lawn chair with an old, white-faced dog, guarding the property. “This here’s private property,” he calls. His small dog barks at us. We apologize and bike on to Babbitt Drive to avoid more potential trespassing.
By the time we reach Buffalo Park, I’m hot and tired, but grateful that we reached our halfway point. Part of me dreads the long ride home—part of me eagerly awaits it.
On the way back from Buffalo, we decide to split up; Mom and I decide to bike through downtown and stop for shopping and food. My dad decides to take a longer ride and meet us downtown later. My mom loves Flagstaff downtown; we shop at PJ Chilcottage to smell each bar of soap, we go to the Sweet Shoppe for some chocolate covered orange peels (way better than it sounds!), and finally, we eat at Dara Thai when my father meets up with us again.
After we’re full on Thai food, we stop at Macy’s for some vegan desserts. Now even fuller, we finally disembark once again on our bikes. We ride alongside cars and other bikers down Beaver Street. Eventually, we connect to the Lone Tree FUTS trail that turns into Bow and Arrow Trail. Finally, many hours and miles later, we arrive home.
After biking roughly 12 miles on the FUTS trails that day, I vowed to use the trails more often, when the weather allows. The peaceful atmosphere we encountered while riding was amazing (even when we went under the noisy freeway or ran into an old grumpy property guard). If you have a bike, some free time, and an itch to ride, I would highly recommend checking out the FUTS trail system.
You can view a downloadable FUTS map here: http://flagstaff.az.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/8550