A new week, a new place to explore thanks to our adventurous friends and extended 'family'! Lifepoints Adventure Guides feature some of our favorite ways to be outside and the hidden gems in our backyards - because we know that the best way to see a new place is with the help of a local. A quick hit of the favorite trails, secret spots*, and refueling venues that need to be “must-sees” for your visit.
The weekly tour will wrap with a fun spin on our past Adventure Grants where one lucky winner will get to live out one of the city guides in person!
This week we've got a tag-team tour of the hometown of Picky Team ultrarunner Rob Krar and pro runner slash Picky co-founder Steph Bruce -- Flagstaff, AZ! Popular among the ultra-distance and track crowds alike, this northern Arizona city feels very sister'ish to our hometown Bend. Elevation you can feel but won't completely wreck you, endless trails that can if you let them, and a stunning landscape you might be shocked by if all you think of desert climates is flat and full of tumbleweeds. Follow Rob and Steph to some of their favorite places below (and give them a hello if you ever make it to town in person!).
* To protect their identity, we've omitted some our most secret hidden gems.
You'll have to track us down in person for that beta...
Rob Krar on the Templeton Trail in Flagstaff (photo cred: James Q Martin)
'Far from the Arizona most people think of, Flagstaff is a four-season mountain oasis nestled in the world’s largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine forest, in the shadow of the spectacular San Francisco Peaks, including Mt. Humphrey’s, the tallest peak in the state at 12,633’. “Flag” as the locals call it, has long been a hotbed and destination for the greatest road and track athletes on the planet and has more recently seen an influx of trail and ultra running talent calling it home. An energetic and adventurous city of 80,000, Flagstaff and its surrounding offers a plethora of activities and landscapes to explore and embrace.' - Rob Krar
'Flagstaff is a quiet, quaint mountain town hidden among the aspens at 7000ft. We have snowy and cold winters, perfectly warm summer days and sunshine all year round. Flagstaff is known for it’s extensive hiking and ski trails, daily frequented coffee shops, and for endless dirt roads winding through the forest. It’s a little like the bar Cheers, “where everybody knows your name.” ' - Steph Bruce
⭑ Oldham to Mt Elden Lookout to Pipeline (14 mile loop, difficult, map)
A tour of our backyard playground, this challenging loop offers a mix of smooth singletrack, spectacular views of the painted desert, and steep and technical descending.
Pro tip: Catching a glimpse of a black bear is a true privilege. Keep your eyes peeled – it’s along this route I’ve spotted four bear in my 15 years exploring the mountains here.
⭑ Buffalo Park and McMillan Mesa (2 mile loops and out & backs, easy, map)
Follow the footsteps of the world’s greatest athletes including Shalane Flanagan, Mo Farah, Abdirahman, Bernard Lagat, and SO many more. Smooth and easy rolling crushed gravel paths with splendid views of the San Francisco Peaks with easy access to endless miles.
Pro tip: March, April and May are the best months to spot Olympians, World Champions, and World Record holders hitting laps around Buffalo Park.
⭑ FUTS: Flagstaff Urban Trail System
Run the Urban Trail system that goes through 40 miles of trail throughout Flagstaff and take a foot tour of our city. You can pick up the Urban Trail at just about any part of town.
⭑ The Peaks Marathon Loop (26 miles, very difficult, map)
A true tour of the San Francisco Peaks, this 26-mile loop includes buttery smooth singletrack, jeep track, jaw dropping old growth Aspen forest, finishing with a burly climb to 12,000’ followed by a technical descent to complete the loop.
Pro tip: Summer “monsoon” season keeps things exciting, but don’t tempt fate – stay well below treeline if a storm is rolling in.
photo cred: James Q Martin
⭑ Grand Canyon (various)
Kind of needs no introduction but this Wonder of the World is about 70 miles outside of Flagstaff. You can do hikes into the canyon or just capture its breathtaking views from the top.
⭑ Oh Ah Point, South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon (2-mile round trip, moderate)
You’d be remiss to come so close and not visit one of the true wonders of the world. An easy 90 minute drive will find you staring into the depths of the Canyon almost 5,000’ below. There are plenty of options, but an easy hike to Oh Ah Point will whet your appetite for more.
Pro tip: Keep your eyes peeled to catch a glimpse of a California Condor. A critically endangered species, it can be spotted gracefully gliding thermals below the rim with their 10’ wingspans.
⭑ Oak Creek off the Templeton Trail, Sedona (varying lengths, moderate to difficult, map)
Only 45 minutes south of Flagstaff, the majestic red rocks of Sedona are not to be missed. Finish a run or mountain bike ride off with a dip in the always cool Oak Creek which cuts through the heart of Sedona.
Pro tip: Don’t mind the slower miles your GPS watch is showing you – Sedona running is full of dips, twists and turns, so expect to run one to two minutes slower per mile than you’re used to. Run by effort instead and soak in the experience.
Led by friend, owner, entrepreneur, chef and ultra runner Caleb Schiff, Pizzicletta has become a staple for locals and guests alike. Small and intimate with communal seating, eating at “Pizzi” is as much an experience and it is a culinary delight.
Pro Tip: Long wait? Visit Mother Road Brewing Company next door where Pizzicletta offers their complete menu.
An all-vegetarian delight, Macy’s is one of the originals for all-day caffeine, treats and meals. Laid back and eclectic, it’s one of the hot spots for local and visiting athletes to relax or get some busy work done.
Pro Tip: You can’t go wrong with a “Macy’s Special” along with a bowl of their homemade granola and honey yogurt.
Save this one for after a morning of adventuring – the portions are hearty but guilt free after a big effort. Quirky, friendly, and truly unique, MartAnne’e has been a staple in Flagstaff forever and not to be missed.
Pro tip: Want to sound like a local? Ask for “Chilaquiles Christmas Style”.
This local brunch spot is what post long run dreams are made of. I order the hash bowl with a few changes due to my allergies, and guess what? They added a button on their ordering system called the Steph Bowl because I go there so much.
It’s always a happy hour at Wanderlust Brewery! Maybe the most laid back in Flag, Wanderlust is in an old bowling alley shared with a climbing gym and my strength & conditioning favorite Paragon Athletics.
Pro tip: Take home a growler of the 928 Local, a Belgian farmhouse ale made with a wild yeast cultured from locally pressed cider.
Refreshed from family vacation, Jesse and Lauren talk about athletes making political statements, high mileage for young runners, and how to battle injuries as an aging athlete.
L & J answer listener questions about faith and belief, training for the marathon as a triathlete, finding balance and passion in a career, and coaching a partner. Plus USATF Champs!