Timing is key to catching Lockett Meadow aspen groves near Flagstaff at peak golden color

Not far from Flagstaff, groves of quaking aspen trees on the hills near Lockett Meadow amaze visitors each fall as they paint the hillsides gold in preparation for winter.

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Lockett Meadow near Flagstaff, AZ shows off its fall color.
Mount Humphreys Peak with aspen trees in foreground
Mount Humphreys Peak with aspen trees in foreground
Hillside covered with aspen trees
Hillside covered with aspens of golden color near Lockett Meadow in Flagstaff, AZ
Sunlight beams through aspen trees of Lockett Meadow
Sunlight beams through aspen trees of Lockett Meadow

Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) quick facts:

  • native to northern Arizona
  • considered to be the most widely distributed of any North American tree
  • generally found at elevations 6,000 to 8,000 feet
  • aspens can reach 100 feet tall and 2 feet in diameter
  • most are typically less than 60 feet high, and less than 12 inches thick.

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.

Trail sign points way to Inner Basin Trail through aspen trees with golden leaves
Trail sign points way to Inner Basin Trail through aspen trees with golden leaves

Although aspens are beautiful year round, the best chance to witness their golden leaves is during the first two weeks of October.

Where to see the Lockett Meadow aspen trees

Use the map below to find your way to the Lockett Meadow recreation area. To get the full effect, take a hike on Inner Basin Trail. It’s a total of 3.7 miles if you complete the entire loop. Several connector trails allow you to add distance to your hike.

CAUTION: Hiking at this altitude can be dangerous due to the high altitude and likelihood of extreme weather.

No pass or permit required for day use. Overnight camping is available on a first come, first served basis for $17 a night. No hookups available.

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