Located in the Coconino National Forest about 30 miles southeast of Flagstaff, Mormon Mountain rises dramatically above the heavily forested landscape, overlooking one of Arizona's very few natural lakes, Mormon Lake. An unheralded peak, it does not get the attention it deserves and as a result sees very little visitation. Its flattish summit plateau and smattering of radio towers may turn some people off, but a wonderful trail through mature forest, plus some minorly challenging map navigation to seek the true summit makes up for any downsides. As a bonus, the summit offers a nearly unobstructed view of Humphreys Peak along with its satellite peaks Kendrick, Sitgreaves and Bill Williams. A pleasurable day hike in an uncrowded, out-of-the-way section of Arizona.
Mormon Mountain Trailhead
The trailhead for the Mormon Mountain Trail is located at the Dairy Springs Campground, located off of Forest Road 90 (paved), which skirts Mormon Lake on its west.
From Flagstaff: Take Lake Mary Road off of I-17 at exit 339, about 1 mile south of the intersection with I-40. Here's a mapquest map link:
Street map to Lake Mary Road (marked as Rte 487), Flagstaff
(Scroll northwest to Flag and zoom in)
Travel southeasterly about 20+ miles to FR-90 on the right, then south along FR-90 to the signed Dairy Springs Campground. Mileages are estimates; we did not come from this direction.
From I-17 in Munds Park (coming up from Phoenix, etc): Exit at Munds Park (exit #322). Proceed east through town, then follow FR-240 about 10 miles to the intersection of FR-90. Turn left and go north about a mile to the campground. FR-240 is dirt but generally well kept and passable to passenger vehicles when dry. Mileages on the signs may not be accurate, but all junctions are well-signed.
A third option is via Payson, Strawberry and Pine up AZ-87, then north on the highway through Happy Jack.
Everything is on Coconino National Forest land so the usual rules apply regarding camping, open fires and fees. The campground runs $12 for a single night. Hiking is free.
Coconino NF - Dairy Springs CG Information
Aside from Dairy Springs, there are about another half-dozen Forest Service campgrounds in the region, including Double Springs just to the south. The community of Mormon Lake, about 5 miles southeast of the Dairy Springs campground, offers private camping and RV spaces.
The upper meadow
External Links Mormon Mountain Trip Report
Mature forest growth on the upper trail
Have copies of the Mormon Mountain and Mormon Lake USGS quadrangle maps with you. The maps do not show the trail, but they do show the forest roads faithfully. The top is broad and forested and covered in small hills, many of which look to be the same elevation. There is one tiny 8,500-foot contour which is the winner (many maps recite the spot elevation of 8,456 feet as its elevation, but this spot elevation is taken in a small depression!).
The register at the trailhead has a basic map and a register. It seems the trail gets hiked maybe once every two weeks - definitely not crowded. Most complain about the 'lack of views' from the top. Without a map, finding the true top is nearly impossible and yes, the views up there are of forest otherwise. Still, very pleasant.