Hiked Sycamore Canyon Rim Loop on 11 June 2005 with Paul L and Paul S. We headed south from the Dow Spring trailhead (1 of 5 on the loop) as recommended by Richard & Sherry Mangum in their book: Flagstaff Hikes
. Excellent advice. The path is down one of the two major drainages forming Sycamore Canyon's headwaters. The entire loop, which skirts both major drainages, is well signed but the Dow Spring trailhead displays the most complete MAP
: (north to the right).
The 3.5+ miles to Sycamore Vista passes a series of lush ponds, sitting in deeper and deeper depressions that eventually form a canyon
. A Sycamore Vista sign
signals the junction of the northeastern and northwestern drainages (see map in photo). The "vista" is less interesting than views from the rim along the eastern drainage (leave the trail to take in views). But it is more expansive ... the view is straight down Sycamore Canyon. Sheer basalt cliffs
(look for rock climbers) guard the end of the western drainage. The trail leads away from the main canyon and into this drainage and within 3 miles reaches a series of natural tanks: Pomeroy Tanks
appeared near the end of their bloom cycle. Prickly pear, pincushions and a pink flowering shrub called New Mexican Locust
were also in bloom. Wild roses
, which appear to thrive on banks above streams and pools, are abundant. The weather was perfect (60s with cloud cover) ... we got sprinkled on very briefly.
I selected this hike despite its low (3 HAZ) rating. I liked the elevation (between the deserts mountains I hike in winter and the Kachina Peaks I save for summer) and photos posted by HAZ member meyer90 intrigued me. Thanks meyer90. This is likely the most underrated hike on the HAZ site.
If photos worked for me - maybe they will for you also. I posted several; take a look at them before passing up this hike. Anytime except winter (snow) should be fine. In the early spring part of the trail may be in a wet marsh but I understand snowmelt creates a nice waterfall. There is likely a lot less water in the summer; that may make the ponds and tanks less appealing.
The KA Hill portion of the loop was disappointing. Trees obstruct the "great view" at the top. Scenery along the trail is fair enough; some big Oak and Alligator Juniper. But the 4+ miles of similar stuff compares poorly to the scenic variety provided by the southern half of the loop. I rate the KA Hill section at most a 3 but the other half the loop is at least a 4.
Hikers demanding some exercise should include KA Hill; it is the only sustained climb on the hike. Others can convert this moderate hike into an easy hike by taking one of the roads that intersect the loop (FR 13, FR 56 or better yet, the unused historic Overland Road
) to create a shorter loop bypassing KA Hill. That's my advise ... spend your extra time and energy exploring the Pomeroy Tanks, the springs, enjoying the views along the rim or watching rock climbers.
NOTE: This is one of those rare hikes with good cell phone coverage. I don't want to encourage phone use but some are concerned about emergences.