On this hike I was attempting a route listed in Cosmic Ray's Fave Hikes. Unfortunately, I neglected to bring a map so I ended up not taking the route I wanted. I also ended up taking a shorter hike than I had planned, but it worked out alright as I haven't hiked for a few weeks.
So the trailhead is at gate for Buffalo Park atop McMillan/Switzer Mesa between the two sides of Flagstaff. I hadn't been to Buffalo Park in a while so I was totally taken aback by the view of Mount Elden upon entering the gate. The open spaces of the park beautifully frame the backdrop of Elden. I walked to the back of the park and reached the official start of Oldham. The trail at this point has entered a immense stand of Ponderosa Pines. There is a pretty cool little rocky section of the trail here that I like. On my way back I bushwacked up the hill a bit a found a nice shaded rock to sit so I could munch on my lunch. The trail winds down a little hill and reaches a fork. http://hikearizona.com/phoZOOM.php?ZIP=65978
That's where I could have used a map! None of the maps on this site show it, but I veered left onto a what the Emmitt Barks Flagstaff Trails Map calls the "Easy Oldham Trail". It's basically a less strenuousness parallel to the Oldham. This was not the trail I wanted to be on, but I had no idea I was on the wrong trail. The Easy Oldham turns out to be a pretty crappy section. The vegetation is most overgrown and unheathly Ponderosas, not what I prefer to look at, and follows the fenceline of a rural neighborhood.
I reached another fork which was right by this ridge of boulders with a bunch of little caves nestled inside. A nice change from the crappyness of the Easy Oldham. I should have turned left to get back on course for my route but I turned right which took back to where I started but on the real Oldham Trail. Fortunately, the real Oldham Trail is much better than the easy one. Mossy rocks are everywhere, and I love mossy rocks, plus oaks trees where mixed in with the Ponderosas. I came back to the fork that originally screwed me up and realized my mistakes. I'm off again during the day tomorrow so I plan on taking on Oldham #1 once more and definitely skipping the crappy "Easy" section.