The northern Arizona city of Flagstaff, tucked into a sprawling ponderosa pine forest at the base of the San Francisco peaks, sits at an elevation of 7,000 feet along the Rio de Flag. It is famous as the location of the Lowell Observatory, Northern Arizona University, and as a basecamp for recreation to the Grand Canyon and Route 66. There’s a great scene for running in Flagstaff, smaller but with a similar feel to outdoor/fitness oriented spots such as Boulder, Bend, and Bozeman.
The best places to run in Flagstaff incorporate the extensive Flagstaff Urban Trails System (‘FUTS’), which includes the beautiful Buffalo Park loop and an out and back through Sinclair Wash. Runners will also find plenty of road running, whether it’s the paved shoulder of Lake Mary Road or the extensive dirt surface of Woody Mountain Road. Trail runners will find some of the best running off of the Schultz Creek Trails. For a nice tour of the downtown and university areas, we’ve mapped a 4 mile loop. Sedona is also an easy day trip from Flagstaff, so those with more time on their hands should see our running guide to the Sedona area. And, for a unique running experience, try to catch Flagstaff during peak wildflower season, using this list of Great Runs routes in areas known for their desert wildflowers, and some specific suggestions in Flagstaff.
Flagstaff is a relatively small city, and well-linked by sidewalks and bike lanes. There’s a solid, affordable bus system in the city. However, since most visitors to the city also plan to access other nearby areas, a car is the most recommended means of transportation.