F.R. 514 & 417 [Hwy 89 to Hwy 180]
On F.R. 514 & F.R. 417, you’ll take a short and mostly easy trip through some great scenery north of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff. The trail is only 14 miles but climbs (or drops) 1,500 feet. This trail is a great shortcut if you’re trying to get from Highway 180 to Highway 89 or vice versa without going through Flagstaff. This trail also passes by the doorstep of Kendrick Cabin, a USFS cabin available for rent.
Where to go:
From Highway 180: From Flagstaff, head northwest on US-180 W/N Fort Valley Road. After just under 20 miles, F.R. 514 will be on the right. This turnoff can be hard to miss – watch for a “Watchable Wildlife Trail” sign just before this. A burned down building just past the turnoff can be used to help find the turn. The trail begins at a cattle guard at N 35 24.799’ W 111 45.320’. Follow the trail directions in reverse.
From Highway 89: From Flagstaff, head east on Highway 180/Route 66 for 4 miles. Continue north on US-89 for 15.8 miles. F.R. 417 is off to the left where F.R. 546 (O’Leary Peak Trail) goes right.
We’ve run this trail both ways however for this trail description, we’ll be talking about going from Highway 89 to Highway 180 (east to west). From Highway 89, head east over a cattle guard as you follow F.R. 417. The road becomes dirt and begins heading north.
Stay straight on the main path as the trail passes several side roads and private residential drives at 0.8 miles. The maintained dirt road remains fairly easy although has some washboards and potholes to watch out for. Stay to the left at the junction at 1.3 miles where F.R. 417 continues northwest. You are now on F.R. 514. The trail heads due west as it slowly climbs through some open grasslands. Stay straight at 2.8 past a private ranch off to the left. After the ranch, the trail zig-zags as it begins to climb more and gets rockier. At 4.0 miles, the trail straightens out as it heads in a north-westerly direction.
At 5.6 miles, you’ll come to another important junction. Stay left to stay on F.R. 514. The trail is now heading southwest and you’ll get some good views of the San Francisco Peaks and Mount Humphrey’s. The condition of this stretch will vary. After a recent rain, we found the trail to have a few muddy spots and two track marks where someone’s tires had dug into the trail. Stay on either the right or left to avoid following in the ruts. The trail begins to wind again as you pass a cattle pond and a couple of buildings off to the left at 7.3 miles. Stay to the left at 8.3 miles where lesser forest roads go right. The trail continues to climb as you pass through patches of ponderosa pine forest on an occasional wash-boardy road. F.R. 514 heads south and comes to a clearing and incredible view at 9.7 miles. This patch of forest has been knocked down (possibly by logging?) but has a tremendous view of Mount Humphrey’s straight ahead. While you can see this peak for most of the trail, this spot in particular seemed the best. After admiring the view, continue on, the trail continues in a southwesterly direction through the forest. Ignore the many side roads. At 12.5 miles, you’ll turn right, cross a cattle guard, and find yourself in a wide grassland again – out of the trees. You are now at almost 7,900’, almost 1,500 feet higher than Highway 89 14 miles back.
Continue straight through the wide open area. Stay straight at 13.3 where F.R. 514B to Kendrick Cabin goes right, and F.R. 514A goes left to some nice camping spots and more forest roads to explore. The trail ends at a cattle guard at 14.3 miles just east of Highway 180. Turn right to go to the Grand Canyon, left to go back into Flagstaff. Consider camping or renting out Kendrick Cabin along this trail to easily extend your trip.
Notes & Trail Ratings:
Overall, this trail is only 14 miles and should take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete, depending on how often you stop and your speed. The trail isn’t difficult. We’ve rated it a ‘2’ out of 10 for its occasional rocky sections, numerous washboards, and few ruts and potholes. This is a maintained forest road that sees a decent amount of traffic. 4-wheel drive isn’t required but high clearance is recommended depending on the condition. According to the Forest Service this trail is open year ‘round, though some vehicles may have trouble on it after a heavy snow. While F.R. 514 is only open to street-legal vehicles, several of the surrounding forest roads are open to smaller, unlicensed vehicles. If you’re looking for a short, scenic, and easy trail, be sure to check this one out.