Trail: Flagstaff Lava River Cave
Length: 1.5 Miles Round-trip
Time: 1-2 Hours
Hike Type: Cave
To get to this marvelous underground hike, drive North to Flagstaff on I-17 or 89. Once in Flagstaff, Take US 180 nine miles northwest to mile marker 230. Then, turn left on FR 245, following it for approximately 3.6 miles until it meets FR 171. Turn left on FR 171 and drive one mile to FR 171B. Take this road a quarter mile until it ends at the trailhead. Once reaching the parking lot, which in all honesty may be full, you will have to walk down a short trail. This will lead you to the cave entrance, clearly marked with a sign and a large circling of rocks.
Be sure you bring a few flashlights, as it is pitch dark in the cave, some sturdy hiking shoes or boots, and a heavy coat. Sturdy hiking shoes or boots are needed due to the cave floor being covered with rocks that posses a Dothraki-like blood lust for your ankles.
The temperature in the cave stays about 34 degrees year round. While it is a nice place to visit during the warmer months due to the cave’s natural air-conditioner qualities, that blessing also ends up being its curse. This place is super packed during the summer time. You will see people lounging around at the cave entrance as if standing in front of their refrigerators. The inside of the cave can get a little congested in the summer as well, but it is a fairly massive amount of cavern, so I didn’t find it to be too troublesome.
In the winter, however, I imagine this location isn’t nearly as popular, for obvious reasons. That is why I am advising you to go now. I cannot even fathom how amazing it must be to walk the cave with only a small group of people inside…creepy.
Once you get into the cavern itself, the trail is pretty self-explanatory. All the little catacombs lead in the same direction and will, ultimately, get you to the same place: Smaug’s Lair. Or is it the back of the cave? I can’t remember which.
Anyways, hiking this trail is a hell of a good time and I recommend that everyone should try it at least once. Who knows, if you are brave enough, maybe you will come back again and again.