Little Spring to Bismarck Lake Trail is a 2.2 mile out and back trail located near Flagstaff, AZ that features a lake. The trail is good for all skill levels and primarily used for hiking. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
Based on condition in 1986-trail easily hiked by 2 year old and 5 year old children and 2 overweight women but was able to use vehicle to Little Spring. Based on condition in 2003-Road to Little Spring no longer accessible by vehicle. Road is torn up making walking to Little Spring difficult.
This was a nice easy hike with a gradual uphill elevation gain. Lots of downed trees that we had to skirt around, but that was no problem. We saw lots of wildflowers and buttlerflies. A great way to spend a few hours outside.
My mother camped at Little Spring from 1985 until her death in 2013. Twice a year she hauled her camping gear and food for a week up to her favorite spot that was a small clearing right next to Little Spring. Until 2001 cars were able to drive right into the field across from Little Spring. She always took my two children with her when camped. My youngest was barely 2 years old when she joined grandma and her 5 year old brother on the first camping trip. A ruby throat hummingbird mistook her red bandana as a flower. After repeated assaults, the little hummer landed on her head. That toddler didn't move a bit for more than 30 minutes. In 1986, I joined the campers. The 1st night I froze even though it was the end of May. The 2nd night I heard wolves howling too close to the tent. The 3rd day, we hiked from Little Spring to Bismarck Lake which is actually a manmade sink for the wildlife to drink from. The thick fern was as tall as my toddler. Everywhere sunlight peaked through the dense Aspen vivid displays of color from the more than 150 species of wild flowers indigenous to the area. My mother catelogued, photographed & researched each variety found around Little Spring. Many of the Aspen bore carvings from previous visitors. Most carvings were initials or names with dates. The oldest we found was 1927. About half way we stopped for a snack. About 6 feet south of the trail we found a very large granite boulder that had a flat top. Centuries of rainwater had worn a sizable hole that was 1' diameter x 6" deep. Sunlight glistened on the water's surface. About 1 hour later we lunched on the bank of Bismark Lake. In the afternoon we surrendered our seats to the wildlife that had begun their northern migration. The return hike was darker as the sun began to set so we hurried back to camp. My son reached for my hand when we heard a twig break. Softly, he whispered "Momma, are there creditors in the woods?" My mother and I started to giggle. We were almost at the clearing, when we heard something in the Ponderosa Pine tree above our heads. I saw the mountain lion first. Silently, I picked up my daughter as my mother picked up my son. Our eyes remained on that big cat The end of its tail flicked back & forth as we slowly moved away from the forest edge into the clearing. We swiftly made our way to my mother's car. Safely locked inside, I refused to come out to eat and there was no way me and my children were sleeping in a tent. My mother actually cooked spaghetti that evening. She brought dinner to us in the car, assuring us we had nothing to fear. She gave up trying to coax us from the car. I kept the key in the ignition the entire night. As I fell asleep I thought it was awfully dark in the woods. The crisp morning sun chirped and buzzed as we smelled breakfast. Coffee brewing, pancakes in the skillet, the campfire was inviting . My Mom informed me it was my turn to pick wild strawberries growing in the field across from our camp. She handed me a bucket that I complained about being too large for the sweet bite size strawberries. I decided the best way to pick these tiny treats was to crawl on my hands and knees. About an hour later I almost didn't hear my mom softly call my name. I was about 3 feet from the dirt road that surrounds the field. The wild flowers were about a foot high so I had to get close to the ground to pick the tiny strawberries. My mother again spoke softly as she firmly instructed me to slowly back out, to remain crouched beneath the flowers, and to be silent. This was about the time I could smell something. I was almost to the road when I heard, "run " As I dove into the car I saw the black bear chasing me. She reared up behind the car & let out a roar that made me scream as ling. The bear clicked her claws in the air as I stuffed my kids under bedding. When the bear's attention shifted to the tent, I reached over &started the car. I shoved my Mom into her door as I shifted into reverse & gunned it. I couldn't steer so Mom pushed me to my side.l but she hesitated as though she could save her shredded tent. I hadn't stopped screaming & attempted to drive again, causing me to earn the name, "sissy girl." I was banned from camping. They continued. I finally returned to Little Spring on 19/31/2003 to spread Momma's ashes around Little Spring that was her heaven in earth.
This has always been one of my favorite places on the mountain. It is beautiful this year with wildflowers and ferns. There isn't much parking avaliable at this trailhead. This is not a maintained trail, and there are alot of downed trees that you must detour around. People not familiar with the trail may have a hard time following it. We saw deer, elk, and a coyote. There is often bear sign in this area, and I have seen 2 black bears near here. There isn't much water in the "lake", which is actually a pond. The views of the north side of the Peaks are awesome. A better choice for most people may be the Bismark Lake Trail, there is ample parking at that trailhead, and is is a maintained trail.