Walnut Canyon Island Trail
Over 700 years ago, a pueblo community lived within Walnut Canyon. While the community is long gone, their structures still partly stand. Peer into the rooms of their dwellings as you explore this short, interesting historic trail. While the trail is rated as moderate, with about 185 feet of vertical drop, those not acclimatized to 2,134 m may wish to spend a day or two in Flagstaff before visiting.
Since this is a historic site, please remain on the trails, don’t touch the structures, and remember to leave dogs at home. If you’re visiting in the summertime, aim to plan your hike for the morning to avoid the common afternoon monsoon storms that come through the Flagstaff area.
View Walnut Canyon Island Trail on Map
- Map Data: ©OpenStreetMap
- Tiles: ©CyclOSM
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Route Description for Walnut Canyon Island Trail
Over 700 years ago, the walls of Walnut Canyon echoed with the activity of a large pueblo community. These Native people thrived in this gorgeous canyon, and although their community is gone, the remnants of their dwellings are still here.
This hike leads you along a trail lined with 25 structures. You can see their rooms, their homes, and their walls, still standing within the canyon walls. The Walnut Canyon National Monument of Arizona is a fascinating lesson in the original human history of this part of northern Arizona.
As you walk along the trail, educational signs illustrate the history of the pueblo community and the dwellings you see today. Rangers can provide further context if you think of any questions related to this interesting place.
The Walnut Canyon National Monument occasionally limits its hours, so plan to complete your hike between 9 AM and 4:30 PM. There are restroom facilities and a park store as well as a visitor center, which is often closed for a half-hour over lunch.
Since this area is very important historically, it’s up to all of us to preserve it for future generations of adventurers. Stay on the trails and do not touch or lean on the dwelling structures. Keep your kids off the structures and don’t disturb any features. Dogs are not allowed on this trail.
The trail is rated as moderate for its 56 m drop down onto the island, which can feel strenuous on the way back up. Strollers are not recommended, and those not acclimated to 2,134 m should consider spending a day or two in Flagstaff before coming out.
The trail, especially towards the end of the loop, can get icy. Sometimes it’s partially closed for ice. For this reason, we recommend a visit between spring and early fall so you can explore the entire trail.
At the trailhead, you’ll hike out towards the island in the canyon. There are stone steps to help you get down and across to the island. Take your time examining the dwellings and reading the interpretive signage. Some of the structures that remain are impressively preserved.
The loop travels clockwise around the small island. Admire the view into the canyon from the far side of the loop–the views are great.
As you return to the base of the loop, it’ll be time to climb back up to the main canyon wall. Take your time on the steps if necessary, then consider stopping into the visitor center or the shop if you haven’t already. When you’re ready, depart the park.
Hiking Route Highlights
Walnut Canyon Pueblo Community
The world of the pueblo community in Walnut Canyon is called Sinagua by archaeologists. This was once a vital community, and there are 25 dwelling rooms to explore on this island, in addition to more visible across the canyon. It has been over 700 years since this Native community has inhabited the canyon, but we can still appreciate their structures built into this gorgeous canyon now.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many steps are in Walnut Canyon?
240 steps lead you down into the canyon.
Is Walnut Canyon open in the winter?
Yes, the canyon is open through the winter, except for December 25. Note that the route can be snowy and icy in the winter.
Is Walnut Canyon worth visiting?
Yes! This is a very interesting historical site that’s worth the trip.
Insider Hints for Walnut Canyon Island Trail
- The canyon trail can get busy in peak hours. Try to plan a midweek morning visit if you’re able to.
- MIcrospikes may be necessary if you visit in the wintertime.
- Bring water on this trail; the 240 steps back up to the main canyon wall can be tiring.
Getting to the Walnut Canyon Island Trail Trailhead
The trailhead for the Walnut Canyon Island Trail is at the end of Walnut Canyon Road.
Walnut Canyon Island Trail Elevation Graph
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Walnut Canyon Island Trail Reviews
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