FR522 Freidlein Prairie

Flagstaff, Arizona (Coconino County)

Last Updated: 12/01/2021
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Highlight: FR522 Freidlein Prairie
This popular trail provides the closest motorized access to the Kachina Peaks Wilderness and Kachina Trailhead, and fourteen *free* high-elevation designated campsites! Although views of the peaks are limited, the forest is beautiful. Mexican Spotted Owls, a protected species, live in the area so it receives special attention from the Forest Service. For those visiting the Snowbowl ski resort on the west side of the peaks for the ski lift or restaurant, the access to this road is located conveniently halfway up Snowbowl Road. The parking lot at the end of the road brings you within hundreds of yards of the Wilderness boundary and the Kachina Trail, making this one of the three best alpine wilderness hiking trailhead accesses in Flagstaff along with the much busier Humphreys Trail (at Snowbowl) and Inner Basin Trail (off Lockett Meadow).


Route Information

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1. Trailhead off Snowbowl Road (0 mi)
Welcome to the front gate, which will be closed during snowy weather. Take a right turn off Snowbowl Road after the sharp right then left dogleg halfway up the mountain, but before the slopes and switchbacks get really steep. Slow down because there is a deep rut right at the gate. You can make it in a mid clearance vehicle- or a sedan if you're really careful! Note the signs, which will explain some detailed rules about designated camping, and will teach you about proper procedure for fires (put them out cold). Drive a few yards and you will see a sign teaching you about the Ponderosa Pine forest restoration underway on the slopes of the Kachina Peaks. These forests were clear-cut a hundred years ago, and today many short small Ponderosas grow where once a thinner stand of majestic and extremely tall trees stood. Research has demonstrated that these forests need to be thinned in order to be more resistent to hot, destructive fires and in order to make healthy use of the snowmelt for summer soil moisture and tree health. The orange markings you'll see along the road are placed by the foresters to guide this thinning and restoration work.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Flagstaff

Take US-180 north/west out of Flagstaff (it's called Humphreys and Ft Valley Road in town), until you get to Fort Valley, a couple of minutes past the Museum of Northern Arizona. Take Snowbowl Road, towards the ski resort, north off US-180. There are many signs for this turn, and traffic is likely on holidays. Follow Snowbowl Road a couple of miles north; there will be a sharp dogleg to the right/east, then another to the left/north, and before another turn the Freidlein Prairie gate will be on your right. The gate is only 25 yards off Snowbowl Road. This turn sneaks up on you, so slow down and look so you don't miss it. You will know you missed it if you get into the tight winding switchbacks up the steep slope of the Peaks. Signs make it clear at the gate that you are at FR 522 and Freidlein Prairie camping area.


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Writer Information

Ben Ruddell

Mapping Crew - Arizona

Ben is an Engineering PhD and Civil Engineer living in Flagstaff with a family of seven. He grew up car camping in Michigan, and later in Southern Illinois. By way of Utah, Southeast Alaska, Michigan, Illinois, and for eight years in Phoenix, He now lives in Flagstaff, AZ and spends summers in Durango, CO. His favorite weekends are spent exploring a new trail or route, usually with the intent of scoring a nice day hike or short overnight car camp with his kids. He frequently finds that his maps are out of date or that roads are impassable without specialized equipment, and wants to create better information for himself and other enthusiasts in his backyard, the 4 corners region of AZ, CO, NM, an UT.
For individual use only, not to be shared.