The Arizona Trail never ceases to amaze, and the 5-mile section from Anderson Mesa to Fisher Point is no exception. This intermediate-level, out-and-back route in Flagstaff, Arizona offers not just a bike ride, but an opportunity for a close encounter with the region's diverse wildlife and scenic vistas.
Starting at Marshall Lake Trailhead, an area that morphs into a marsh rather than a conventional lake, cyclists are introduced to a habitat frequented by bald eagles in winter and osprey in summer. Waterfowl and smaller hawks are constant companions year-round. As the trail winds across Anderson Mesa, the open grassland intermingled with sparsely positioned trees creates a perfect backdrop for observing a plethora of wildlife including elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, wild turkey, Abert's squirrels, coyotes, and pronghorn antelope.
As riders approach Fisher Point, Walnut Canyon unveils its treasures. Get those cameras ready for perhaps the most captivating views of the San Francisco Peaks available. Here, red rock cliffs eerily reminiscent of Oak Creek and the Grand Canyon come into the frame, offering photographers a chance to capture Arizona's contrasting landscapes.
To access the Fisher Point end of the trail, head southeast out of Flagstaff for 6 miles on Lake Mary Road. Turn left just past the second cattle guard to reach Sandy's Canyon Trailhead. For the Marshall Lake start, continue 9.2 miles past Sandy's Canyon, turn left on FR 128, and drive another 2.2 miles to the trailhead.
Though not considered extraordinary in terms of technical challenge, what sets this 5-mile segment apart is the chance to immerse oneself in nature's splendors. Between the wildlife sightings and the breathtaking views, this trail offers a well-rounded riding experience. As one review intriguingly noted, there might even be a cougar watching—adding an extra sense of adventure and wilderness to the ride. Therefore, it's not just a trail; it's a journey through the essence of Arizona's landscapes.