Wandering Through Labyrinths To Find My Way

There is something about the great outdoors that is just immediately calming. There is so much life happening all at once, you would think it would be chaotic. Squirrels and chipmunks scurrying around the trees, skunks making their way to their burrows, ravens talking amongst the branches. A walk outside is teeming with so much activity, yet it appears completely undisturbed.

At the heart of the Coconino National Forest, surrounded by ponderosa pines lies Flagstaff, Arizona. Something that I have discovered of Flagstaff is despite the liveliness spawning from the university located there; the town has managed to remain rather down-to-earth. I personally believe it is to the credit of all the nature that encircles the urban yet rustic town.

By definition, a labyrinth is a set of inconsistent paths making it difficult to find one’s way. Essentially, a labyrinth is a maze. Unknown to most, Flagstaff has its own community-built labyrinth. The purpose of this labyrinth; however, is quite different than the dictionary definition. Rather than confusing one’s way, the Toe of the Flow Labyrinth was developed by residents of Flagstaff to assist an individual in finding their way.

Tucked away on one of the several trails tracing through Flagstaff, this labyrinth has a tendency of being stumbled upon. While walking down the Urban Trail off of Lone Tree, a subtle place-marker will display a spray painted version of the labyrinth. Upon following the initial marker, there will be a few more indicating the correct path. At the end you will come to a clearing, a pretty remarkable one at that. At first, it might just appear to be a field of rocks but it transforms into something else entirely.

Overlooking the small cliff, is an expert layout of the infamous Toe of the Flow Labyrinth. Prior to entering the actual labyrinth, there is an introduction engraved on a copper tin box. What is in this box is one of the more interesting parts of the whole place. The introduction requests that each visitor write down a thought or realization that the labyrinth helped him or her come to.

There is no right way to walk this labyrinth. Just simply stroll through at the pace you desire, reflect for a few minutes, and then walk back out. Some people have left little trinkets in the middle of the labyrinth as a symbolic “leaving their worries behind.”

Like most people, I happened upon the Toe of the Flow labyrinth when I first moved into the neighborhood. As one of the many explorations that took place before the semester started, this labyrinth was the most memorable. It just had this vibe that I instantly fell in love with. It felt like a sanctuary and to this day when things get rough or stressful, I visit the labyrinth to take a breather. I am a huge believer in they saying, “stop and smell the roses”. So if you come across the Toe of the Flow Labyrinth or any other of the thousands out there, take a few moments and wander through. You will be surprised to what you might discover.