Walker Lake - Cinder Cone Hikes Infinity


Walker Lake. As an Arizona lake, it is really more of a pond. You can see the bowl shape of the crater of an ancient volcano.

Flagstaff sits roughly in the middle of the San Francisco Peaks volcanic field. As a consequence, most of the mountains around here, excepting the mesas and the buttes along the Mogollon Rim, are volcanoes. Many of these can be hiked.

Some of these are beautiful, others are ugly, but even the ugly volcanoes usually have beautiful views if you are looking to the distance.

Humphreys Peak from the rim of Walker Lake. Humphreys is the highest mountain in Arizona.

Walker Lake is such a place. The "lake" is by Arizona definition: a pond standing in the middle of an extinct cinder cone volcano. The trail isn't an official, marked trail, but apparently is known to enough locals that there is a beaten path around the rim of the crater. That said, it's difficult to find the trailhead. It's off FS 418 and then another side turn in the midst of yet another spider's web of fire roads, both marked an unmarked. If the hike had not been led by someone from the local hiking club, I don't know that I ever would have found it.

Volcanic mountains and prairie from the rim of the Walker Lake cinder cone.

The views from the rim of the crater are spectacular, both into the crater and outward toward the surrounding terrain. With the rainy monsoon season, there was water in the lake and plenty of wildflowers. Views went far into the distance. You could see Humphreys Peak in the near distance, many other cinder cone and lava dome volcanoes, open prairie, and the Kaibab Plateau in the distance. It's a lovely hike.

Lake level view from within the crater.

You can also hike down into the crater, but the trails are not easy to identify. Based upon a large number of elk tracks, I would say they are really game traces. We saw a couple of small snakes in the grass, none with rattles.

Unfortunately I had difficulty with my Garmin watch, so I didn't capture the track. This has happened before a few times, much more than when I was simply running Strava on a cell phone. Very frustrating. The watch has excellent battery life, which is why I bought it. It also has a huge feature set, which contributes to the complexity. The user interface design is also somewhat stupid, in my opinion. For instance, pushing the button to start recording a new track often results in informational messages popping up, letting you know what recent software packages were installed. Sometimes you have to advance through several such messages to actually get it to start recording. As far as user interface design, that's pretty stupid. There might be a way to disable it but I've been too frustrated with it to take the time.

Forget the watch. Go for the hike. It's short but excellent.


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