Buffalo Park offers the easiest hiking near Flagstaff, and these trails are also the most conveniently accessed from town. Driving a short distance from downtown or biking, running, or walking on the Urban Trails will get you to Buffalo Park in no time.
Park is a word commonly used in Northern Arizona to mean a meadow, and Buffalo Park is a picturesque example. This grassy expanse with numerous wildflowers and sparse ponderosa pines sits atop a low mesa scenically situated between Flagstaff, Mount Elden, and the San Francisco Peaks.
The main trail is a 2-mile loop, but this can be deviated from with a few short cuts or side trails. The wide, flat, gravel paths are popular with Flagstaff locals of all ages and physical abilities. Expect to share the trail with kids, dogs, bikes, baby strollers, and even wheelchairs. Despite the crowds, it is not uncommon to see deer or even herds of elk browsing in the open area, especially around dusk, so keep your eyes peeled.
Part of what makes Buffalo Park special as a suburban getaway is the variety of recreation opportunities within a consolidated space. Pavilions and picnic tables near the main entrance allow for sheltered group activities. Along the main loop is a challenge course with structures and instructions for additional workouts including legs, core, and upper body. Even more unique is the proximity of a decent boulder field for rock climbing. This small cluster of boulders contains a high concentration of problems ranging from easy to extremely difficult (V0-V10). Additionally, short trails lead through the trees from the parking area to an 18-hole disc golf course in adjacent Thompson Park. Other side trails at the northern end of the park lead into the network of trails at the base of Mount Elden, opening an entirely new realm of rugged terrain along the forested slopes.
A trip to Buffalo Park will suddenly transport you from the roads of the city to an altogether different environment surrounded by nature at the foot of Northern Arizona's most iconic mountains. But the amazing convenience is that you are never more than a jog away from the comforts of town.