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Island Loop

Intermediate
 4.6 (8) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A great way to explore and imagine the cliff-dwelling Anasazi life.


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Map Key

0.8

Miles

1.3

KM

Loop

6,676' 2,035 m

High

6,465' 1,970 m

Low

233' 71 m

Up

234' 71 m

Down

11%

Avg Grade (6°)

30%

Max Grade (16°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Views

Family Friendly A short trail with amazing cool ruins for kids of all ages to explore.

Overview

This trail provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Sinagua people who lived here a thousand years ago.

Description

This trail is short, but strenuous with 240 stairs in its one-mile loop. You'll pass through beautiful terrain and 24 cliff dwellings. Hundreds more dwellings are visible all around the canyon. Imagine the difficult life that entailed getting water, food, and survival on these cliffs! This trail is highly recommended for everyone, including kids, who don't mind the stairs.

History & Background

Walnut Canyon is blessed with much natural beauty, but the highlights are the amazing ruins of the cliff dwelling Sinagua people. Populating the canyon from roughly 600-1250 AD, these people hunted and farmed the canyon and rim above. The cliff dwellings were only inhabited for about 100 years, and it is not understood why they were abandoned in about 1250. They remained undisturbed until the 1880s when theft and destruction destroyed much of cultural gems and many of the structures.

In 1915, the land was preserved as a national monument, and most of the cliff dwellings are not accessible, although a few trails take you right up to a few that you can investigate. The Island Loop Trail gives you the best look at this amazing history.

Contacts

Shared By:

Nick Wilder

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 8 votes

#1685

Overall
  4.6 from 8 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#85

in Arizona

#1,685

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41 Views Last Month
1,936 Since Dec 19, 2015
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Photos

One section of hundreds of Anasazi cliff dwellings.
Dec 19, 2015 near Flagstaff, AZ
The Anasazi were apparently shorter than your average 10-year-old!
Dec 19, 2015 near Flagstaff, AZ
Investigating the cliff dwellings.
Dec 19, 2015 near Flagstaff, AZ
Mt. Humphrey above, cliff dwellings (hard to see) dot the cliffs below.
Dec 19, 2015 near Flagstaff, AZ
View of cliff dwellings
Jul 29, 2018 near Flagstaff, AZ
Look carefully and you can see the trail and one cliff dwelling. Look very carefully and you can see dozens of dwellings.
Dec 31, 2015 near Flagstaff, AZ

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Check-Ins

Feb 17, 2020
Denise Tucker
Oct 22, 2019
Chris McCloud
Done as part of stop during AZT thruhike fall 2019
Oct 21, 2019
Chris McCloud
Done as part of 2019 AZT thruhike stop
Dec 12, 2018
Paul Kimmelman
Dec 11, 2018
Jodi K
Brisk and windy
Oct 19, 2018
Angel Davis
Aug 24, 2018
Court E
Jul 29, 2018
Jean-Claude Linossi
Steep trail at the beginning but not too bad once you are down in the canyon. Very nice views. 0.8mi — 0h 45m