Every fall, just outside of Flagstaff, massive groves of quaking aspen trees paint the hillsides gold in preparation for winter. Witnessing it in person is an experience you won’t soon forget.
When and where to see the Lockett Meadow aspen trees
Timing is key
Although aspens are beautiful year round, the best chance to witness their golden leaves is during the first two weeks of October. If you don’t like crowds, avoid the weekends, or arrive first thing in the morning.
(Scroll to bottom for clickable map.)
- From Flagstaff, head northeast on Hwy 89 for 12 miles
- Go left (west) at Fire Road 545, just past mile marker 430
- Ascend the steep winding, dirt road for 5 miles to the Lockett Meadow parking area
- From here, follow the signs to Inner Basin Trail
To get the full effect of Lockett Meadow, hike the entire 3.7-mile Inner Basin Trail loop. Several connector trails allow you to add distance, including one trail that takes you above treeline to the highest peak in Arizona: Humphrey’s Peak.
CAUTION: Hiking at this altitude can be dangerous due to the high altitude and likelihood of extreme weather.
Want the inside scoop on more amazing places like this? Grab a copy of Arizona Bucket List Adventure Guide.
Pass and permit info
No pass or permit is required for day use. Overnight camping is available on a first come, first served basis for $17 a night. No hookups available.
About aspen trees
Aspens generally exist as well-defined groves in the forest. Most groves are clones of a single tree. Since the trees are genetically identical, the aspen grove is considered to be among the largest organisms on earth.
Quaking Aspen quick facts:
- Latin name: Populus tremuloides
- native to northern Arizona
- related to the cottonwood tree
- regenerates by sending out lateral roots
- considered to be the most widely distributed of any North American tree
- generally found at elevations 6,000 to 8,000 feet
- can reach 100 feet tall and 2 feet in diameter
- most are typically less than 60 feet high, and less than 12 inches thick