Lily Trotters ambassador, Nona Hillock, talks about all the awesomeness that can be found in Flagstaff, Arizona. If you're looking to disconnect and breathe in fresh pine-scented air, take a retreat to this mountain town (elevation 7,000 ft!) with unlimited options for outdoor fun, good food and local brews!
Flagstaff, Arizona has a reputation for being a running mecca, and for good reason. It’s got something for everyone: endless trails, with or without elevation, and the most perfect road for those long runs. No matter what time of year, Flagstaff provides a multitude of options for outdoor adventuring: hiking, biking, climbing, paddle-boarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing….I could go on and on. Flagstaff has so much to offer!
Best Places to Run
To See the Town The best way to see what Flagstaff has to offer? Hop on any of the urban trails! The trails consist of hard pack dirt and concrete paths that weave all over the city. Currently consisting of over 50 miles of trail, they offer views of the city’s canyons, grasslands, meadows, and forests, all within just a few miles of where you may be staying! They provide the unique opportunity of feeling like you’re out in the wilderness, while remaining within city limits. My recommendation is to start at the trail near Wheeler Park and head north for the best views of the Peaks!
Connect with Nature This run is, hands down, the most beautiful and enjoyable place I’ve ever had the pleasure of running. Starting at “Aspen Corner”, the Arizona Trail on Mt. Humphreys provides for unbelievable views, Aspen groves, open meadows, and Ponderosa filled forests. It’s extremely runnable, so even if you don’t consider yourself a trail runner, you do not have to skip out on this run! If you only have the opportunity for one run, make it this one.
Hit the Road If you’re looking to get in a long run during your visit, be sure to make it on Lake Mary Road. The road connects Flagstaff and Lake Mormon, and it is the ideal place to log those miles. It’s got a wonderfully wide shoulder, and beautiful views. A popular training ground for runners and bikers alike, you’ll share the road with fitness enthusiasts on a Saturday or Sunday morning! (Bonus: This is premier training ground for elites - local and visiting. I’ve caught glimpses of Steph and Bruce Rothstein, Shalane and even Meb!)
Best Running Store
Run Flagstaff The local running store is your one stop shop for all your running needs. Whether looking for shoe or gear recommendations, places to run, or groups to run with, Run Flagstaff offers it all! The owners are very involved in the running community in town, even creating a running club, and are passionate about providing quality gear and service for its customers. They hold panels and informational meetings, which offer the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of Flagstaff’s most notable runners.
Best Places to Cross Train
ESenEM Yoga While Flagstaff does not have a shortage of great yoga places, my favorite classes have been at ESenEm. Each of their classes are “hot”, but never feel stifling. My favorite class is their “Sculpt”. It’s a great mix of strength training and glorious stretching – perfect for those running bodies! They offer the first class FREE and a 30-day unlimited introductory pass.
The Nordic Center Located just north of town, the Nordic Center is your guide to any outdoor activity you could want! During the winter, they offer snowshoe and cross-country ski rentals, and their trail system in the summer is perfect for hiking, running or mountain biking. They also are the home of the famous Flagstaff Marathon in early September. Be sure to check it out!
There’s no shortage of delicious food and drinks in town, but here are a few of my favorite picks!
Coffee A trip to Flagstaff is not complete without a visit to Macy’s Café. There’s normally a bit of a line, but it is 100% worth the extra wait. They always have an assortment of homemade goodies, and a fantastic food menu. Bonus! They’re vegetarian! Get the Macy’s Special and a muffin. You won’t be disappointed.
Dinner Criollo Latin Kitchen is my number one spot for dinner and a drink on a Saturday post-long run. Working with local vendors, their menu changes seasonally and the food is always top notch. Be sure to get one of their specialty margaritas (the Jalapeno is my fave!) and a fish taco. Or, if you really want to splurge, the Bacon Nachos. You can thank me later.
Beer There’s a variety of great craft breweries in town, but my favorite is Dark Sky Brewing. Their taps all change routinely, and it’s always a creative brew. Also, if you’re around on a Monday evening, join the DSB Run Club for an easy 5k and great beer and conversation post run!
Flagstaff. Arizona is undoubtedly an outdoor lover's paradise. I've just skimmed the surface, but there are countless reasons why you should head to this mountain town. And, when you're ready to explore beyond the city's borders - it's an easy drive to both the Grand Canyon and Sedona. One more thing, while the daytime views are spectacular be sure to take a step outside in the evening to gaze up at the stars - Flagstaff is a dark sky city and as a result the nighttime views are truly out of this world!