Flagstaff, AZ

Told by Kuma & Written by Lorraine Bossé-Smith

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Summer is here and with it rising temperatures not fit for man or beast! My family and I decided to hit higher ground and took off for Flagstaff, Arizona. With an elevation of just under 7,000 feet, Flagstaff is the gateway to the San Francisco Peaks, the tallest mountains in Arizona.

Flagstaff is located in northern Arizona and has a population around 70,000 humans. I don’t know how many dogs they have, but I saw a ton of them! Flagstaff is very friendly to my kind with many restaurants welcoming us. Good humans.

Flagstaff is full of parks and trail systems that connect. Be sure to visit Buffalo Park while in town. It has a two-mile easy loop that is perfect for an evening stroll.  Thorpe Park has what they call a Bark Park, a fenced area where dogs can run free. For a bigger adventure, we chose to hike Sandy’s Canyon to Walnut Canyon. Take Lake Mary Road 5.5 miles to the Canyon Vista Campground sign on your left and turn in toward the camp ground. You will park just outside the camp ground (free) and walk in for the trail head. The signs are a bit confusing, at least my humans thought so. You’ll have several options to choose from with easy and short to moderate and long. Sandy’s Canyon to Walnut Canyon is a 7.2 mile hike (out and back) or you could hike to the top of Fisher’s Point, shorter but steeper.

We chose Sandy’s Canyon to Walnut Canyon, a scenic trail through mountain meadows, lush canyons, cool tree-covered ridges, and cool caves. We were immediately greeted with a view of the San Francisco Peaks. How inspiring! The trail starts at the top of the canyon and meanders down. However far you go, remember you will need to hike back out. Bring plenty of water as the streams will most likely be dry unless you hike right after a rain storm.

The trail has plenty of shade, but it also has some hot spots. I needed to rest a couple of times. Oofda. I am still getting used to the desert heat. Even though we were at high elevations, the temps were still in the 80s. Pay attention to your pups. My dad gave me plenty of water from his Camelback. Downward we went into Sandy’s Canyon on a rocky but relatively easy trail.

Sandy’s Canyon connects with the path to Walnut Canyon, a protected area. The trail narrows, and the grasses get really tall. This is a great place to have lunch and watch for wildlife. Several caves are carved out of the canyon walls, and they make a great resting spot. The caves were at least 10 degrees cooler. Ah!

After a nice picnic lunch in Walnut Canyon and some cave exploring, we headed back up. The trail isn’t super steep but will be a challenge for your dog with higher temps. Go slow with plenty of water and rest breaks. Between meadows, mountain fields, and canyons, the scenery keeps you motivated. Oh the smells! A lovely breeze was blowing all sorts of scents my way. Woof!

We had a great hike and met many others enjoying the trail. Afterwards, we headed to the Wildflower Bread Company on Piccadilly for a nice meal. They have a dedicated doggy patio in the shade with water bowls. I was fed salmon. Yes, life is good! Flagstaff gets high marks, and I hope you’ll give it a try.

Kumaito (Kuma for short) is a black & tan Shiba Inu, an ancient breed from Japan, who was born in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, moved to Friendswood, Texas, for three years and now resides in Phoenix, AZ. He enjoys running almost every day with his mom, chasing rabbits, playing with toys, pestering his brother Edmond, eating, napping … well, Kuma loves about everything and everyone! His mom, Lorraine Bossé-Smith, is kind enough to help him tell his story. She is the author of seven published books, writes for magazines on assignment, has been seen on national television, and rewires businesses for success through her consulting and trainings. You can reach Kuma through Lorraine’s website: www.lorrainebosse-smith.com Be sure to visit Kuma Dog’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Kumathedog?ref=hl

You never know what he’ll be up to next!