Short in length but long on scenic beauty, this easy trek climbs to a stone outcropping overlooking Mormon Lake. For fans of wildlife viewing, the “ledges” are a terrific platform for spotting elk, waterfowl, raptors and other large game.In addition, legions of leapin’ lizards, loquacious loggerhead shrikes, screeching Stellar’s jays and butterflies a plenty keep things interesting along the trail.
The hike begins at site #25 in Dairy Springs campground, ascending gently but with loose rock underfoot.Alligator juniper-framed first views of the lake emerge near the 0.3-mile point where the route levels out amid lava-boulder-strewn fields of wildflowers.This environment is prime lizard habitat—they are everywhere. At one point, so many of the little creatures were darting across the path, I though I had interrupted some sort of reptile fly catching convention or something. Lucky for me, lizards can be excellent photo models–they freeze when cornered.The path meets the “ledges” at the 0.6-mile point.Here, lake vistas are breathtaking.I saw a wandering herd of elk waaaay in the distance and chided myself for not bringing binoculars.From the ledges, the trailheads left and downhill along a quagmire of footpaths passing several private homes.Just pick a path—they all lead to Mormon Lake Road where you can return the way you came or hang a left and walk back to the parking lot.
LENGTH: 1.5 miles one-way
ELEVATION: 7,237′ – 7,400′
DOGS: leashed dogs allowed
KID FRIENDLY?: yes
BEST SEASON: April-November
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 167 miles
From Phoenix, take I17 north to exit 339 for Lake Mary Road (FR3) located south of the I40 interchange just before entering Flagstaff.Follow Lake Mary Road south (right) 20.6 miles to Mormon Lake Road (milepost 323.6), turn right and drive 3.7 miles to the turn off for Dairy Spring campground.Turn right again and go roughly 0.2 mile to the “trailhead parking” on the right or continue another bumpy/rocky 0.1mile to the Mormon Mountain trailhead.Trailhead parking areas are free, but if you park in the campground, you’ll be subject to fees.Hike begins in the campground near site 25.
INFO: Flagstaff Ranger District, Coconino National Forest
Bio: Serial blogger, manic hiker and “mom” to a dozen adopted dogs, Mare Czinar has been exploring Arizona trails for more than 20 years. After being led astray (or just plain confused) by outdated hiking books and online resources (hence the tagline: We got lost, so you don’t have to), Czinar sought to create a fully vetted, frequently updated online hike travelogue with current driving and hiking directions to spare fellow hikers the mental and physical wear-and-tear of aimless wandering.
In addition, blog entries are amended when road closures or wildfires restrict trail access. When not working, blogging, writing about the great outdoors or picking up dog poo, Czinar attempts to “stay found” while checking out new trails.