Sandy’s Canyon is one of many trails we found by accident on one of our weekend roams in the Flagstaff Area. Basically, we saw some cars parked off the side of a road and decided to explore, finding a trail with an upper and lower course, depending on the view you like. We highly recommend stopping whenever you see a cluster of cars parked next to a forest service road or unlabeled area, it almost always pays off.
Naturally we were both wearing our winter boots which turned out to be terrible on the sloping and winding trail to the canyon floor. The weather was nice enough but like much of the area this time of year, while the terrain appears warm and inviting the wind can be bitter and in the shade hides unmelted snow, ice and slippery mud. Both of us were careful to keep from falling most of the way down and I kept my camera out of harms way for this part. When we arrived at the bottom the trail changed shape, temperature and terrain drastically and revealed an amazing canyon.
The canyon walls reflected a heat reminiscent of summer and the trail became an open, rocky climb up to the canyon wall, making us quickly forget the shaded, steep trail through the pines we arrived by. The walls were coated in young rock climbers using permanent hooks in the rocks; Clearly a place regularly conquered by locals.
For those of you who live close enough:
Location: Just south of Flagstaff near Lower Lake Mary on paved forest roads.
Access: Drive southeast out of Flagstaff 6 miles on Lake Mary Road (Forest Highway 3). Take the road into Canyon Vista Campground on left going south.
For more info and a map see: USDA Sandy’s Canyon Page
If you look close you can see people hanging precariously off the cliff face.