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Red Mountain Trail #159, AZ

no permit
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Guide 105 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Flagstaff > Flagstaff NW
4 of 5 by 45
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.15 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,800 feet
Elevation Gain 364 feet
Accumulated Gain 578 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.04
Backpack No
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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19  2019-08-24 Nightstalker
23  2018-07-27 cw50must
15  2018-06-05 Alston_Neal
3  2017-11-23 azbackpackr
45  2017-08-10
Summer HAZFest 2017
6  2017-07-15
Bill Williams Mountain Trail
7  2017-07-15 Tortoise_Hiker
5  2017-07-10 leonesiegel
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 8
Author desertgirl
author avatar Guides 20
Routes 1
Photos 3,098
Trips 428 map ( 3,024 miles )
Age Female Gender
Location Chandler, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, Aug, Sep → Any
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:11am - 6:32pm
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0 Alternative
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Geology Nearby
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Named place Nearby
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Into the heart of a volcano
by desertgirl

Likely In-Season!
Into the heart of a 740,000 year old volcano....a fascinating look at the geology of AZ.

This is quite an easy hike/walk in the Flagstaff area. Its has been one that I have often wanted to stop by on my many trips back and forth from the Grand Canyon but never quite did until now....The trailhead is at Milepost 247 along Highway 180 -- well signed. Turn left oonto this good dirt road that will end at developed trailhead a short distance from the turnoff. There is a parking area right at the turnoff but proceed further to the developed trailhead.

The trail is a fairly easy meander for about 1.25 miles through pinyon and junipers. The trail is a constant rise but the distance goes by quick -- you are drawn in by the sheared off cliff face with its hoodoos and the path is dotted with a variety of blooms - yellow, orange, pink and red against the red cinders or green pinyons. At about 3/4 mile; the trail drops into a wash and follows it in towards the sheared cliff face. The wash is firm sand with scattered ponderosa pines; narrowing down as you head closer and closer to the mountain. You are now flanked by black cinder slopes dotted by interesting vegetation. As I was hiking in late in he afternoon the vegetation was catching the last rays as the sun sank over the cliff and were adding a slivery glimmer to the black slopes - an eerie glow.

You come upon some black lava formations that act like a gate to the place. You will soon reach a 6 ft high silted up check dam over which a ladder has been built to allow access to the inner area. The optional route is a scramble up the cinder shoulder to the right and between the "gates" and down the other side. If you are hiking with dogs; this is your route. Once you reach the top you will have to navigate a short section of exposure and somewhat slipper footing to gain access to the area where you can descend to the inner areas.

Once inside the trail heads a short ways in and then you are off exploring among the spires, pillars and pinnacles. The predominant color is earthy reds punctuated by mustard and black. This is the heart of a million year old volcano and the volcanic tuff has been sculpted into variety of shapes. You can follow any number of avenues to explore the area. The area has re-vegetated and you will find pondererosa pines growing out of the tuff. I chose to follow the stream bed back into the curving tuff formations following a trail of a variety of bushes and flowering plants supported by the stream. Interesting formations were at every bend and the rocks were beautifully sculpted.... Looking up at the horizon you could see the spires extend all the way up to the ponderosa clad ridgeline. There were birds nesting in hollows along the sheer wall -- marked by splotches of white bird droppings were their favored perches.

Light plays hide and seek among the spires and hoodoos and so can you. Be watchful as you scramble up these formations -- most are a lot easier going up than down! After a bit of exploring; we returned by way of the cinder hill exit and were quickly back to the trail head. On the return trip you are treated to some expansive vistas of the Flagstaff mountains.

Note: Water is not available along this trail.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2004-09-07 desertgirl
  • book
    area related
  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
    area related
    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 16 deeper Triplog Reviews
Red Mountain Trail #159
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Summer HAZFest 2017
Better Late than Never I guess... :sweat:

I did 9 Hikes on this Trip, but I decided to just do the one Photoset with the Camping, Driving and Highlights from 8 Short Hikes and a longer one, that turned just a Tad Epic in the last 4 Miles... I went up on Thursday, and hit a couple of Areas in Flag before getting to Camp after Dark.... I headed for the Barn on Sunday, although from Camp, I think it took me about 3 1/2 Hours to get to Flag because of some pretty Sweet Storm and Sunset Action along the Way....

Chumley always puts on a Great Event and his Attention to Detail is Unrivaled. Nonot's Fires with Chumley's Wood Contributions did not Disappoint. It was Great to see Old Friends again and Meet some of the Newer HAZ Faces out there... Thanks for Organizing this Todd...

Awesome Weekend with Good People and Sweet Hikes and some Amazing Wildlife along the Way... What did the Fox say? "Na Na, Nana Na! You didn't get a Photo of me!" ](*,)
Red Mountain Trail #159
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I am not going to lie, this hike completely exceeded my expectations and I found it rather enjoyable and interesting. I knew it was a short one to begin with and from driving by the trailhead the day before, it looked to be somewhat unspectacular. However, we had car camped just up the road and were only looking for a short morning hike before heading back to Phoenix, so we committed to the quick stop on the way home.

There were no other cars, or people on the trails when we arrived at the informative trailhead. We read up on Cinder Cones and googled a couple more fun facts about volcanoes and then hit the trail. The first half mile was a little warm and somewhat bland. However, once you drop down into the sandy drainage that serves as the trail, things get much nicer. In particular, the geology is great! We explored a few of the hoodoos, climbed a couple of high spots and generally marveled at the geological remnants of the the ancient volcano. We were a little surprised when we hit the ladder and wall portion of the trail, but were able to utilize the bypass to get the big dog down the trail. The trail ends in a slot and box canyon area and that is where we turned around after a quick snack and a little more exploration.

A great little trail overall. Well worth a quick stop! Very suitable for children, non hikers and the elderly.
Red Mountain Trail #159
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took my parents, brother and sister-in-law up for a few day getaway in flag.

forecast was sketchy but we managed to get this one in (mostly) before a big storm hit. we had a great time goofing around in there. happy to finally hike this little gem

scary storm did hit us right at the end with lightning and hail, which made sierra stop in her tracks and ask in amazement "what is happening???" :lol:
Red Mountain Trail #159
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Claire and I started our trip off to Flagstaff with a quick stop at Red Mountain. This is a hike both of us have wanted to hit for a while now. We started hiking on a hot afternoon and made our way up the trail. The going is very easy and there are lots of trees that provide brief moments of shade. We arrived at the main turnaround point and did a quick exploration of the area and then returned to the jeep. We were off to find a camp for the night. This is a nice hike that took about an hour. Very cool geology back there.
Red Mountain Trail #159
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since i was right in the neighborhood, why not?
had a quick lunch on my tailgate between hikes
did this one in august 2001 and got rushed off by a storm
no gps, only checked how long it took me to return from the ladder to the trailhead
didn't want any time constraints on this beauty
the geology inside red mountain is amAZing
wandered around some, climbed a bit, checked out the use trails
think the ladder is relatively new
had fun and just enjoyed this unique hike
maybe a dozen people late afternoon
the light was not good for photos; we'll see what i come up with
both slate and red mountain would be good hikes to bring company on
not too committing or difficult but great scenery
think i got my money's worth out of the day ;)
Red Mountain Trail #159
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Crazy hike with my 2 kids and their friend Arianna.

We let our little Boston Terrior run around off leash and because of conversation lost track of him. Next thing we now he is NO WHERE TO BE FOUND.

We made it to the wash and I told the kids to wait her and NOT MOVE. I jogged back to the parking lot screaming his name "BOGIE" about every 20 feet. Got back to the truck...nothing.

Was starting to write the little guy off; proceeded to quick hike backup to the kids...again, screaming "BOGIE" every so often - my throat was becoming numb....finally he showed up with his tongue hanging down to the ground...

I swear this dog is has 9 lives...he's used up at least 8.
Red Mountain Trail #159
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I driven by this numerous times and always said that I needed to do it some day. I couldn't justify the long drive from the Valley just to do this.... so this was stop one of three for the day.

What a Gem! Looking at it from the road, it looked interesting, but once you get back there...WOW. And all of this and you don't even go to the top or even climb 500 feet!

Add blue skies and big white puffies, and it's a Shmorgishborg of color.

A great family or date hike!

Now...On to hike two for the day... Just down the road... Slate Mountain.
Red Mountain Trail #159
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If you haven't hiked this gem you are missing out. It's like a mini national park. The easy grade, short hike and incredible views draw in large groups yet it's worth a peek!

Headed into this one sans sleep. I think the beauty of this mountain and the cool sixty degree temps got me fired up for the trifecta.
Red Mountain Trail #159
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After our drive in light rain conditions, we hoped we would be able to get this hike in too. It's long been on my wish list and lived up to the hype. When you first see the volcano you wonder how the trail will get you there. The 1.25 miles to the dam ladder ;) go fairly quickly and you get to enjoy the shrubbery and trees along the way. There weren't too many folks on the trail, I presume due to weather. Eventually you drop into a wash that is soft to your feet and as the hike desc states, you are now flanked by black cinder slopes. John kept eyeing the one on the right :-k trying to determine if it was "doable". He would eventually decide not and we would do our climb from the area just before the cinder slope on our way back.

Once we reached the dam there is a choice. Climb straight up the wall or take the short ladder. You know what John's choice was and if not, check out the video. Once over the dam you are welcomed to a new world and you don't know which way to look, let alone go first. After walking further, John decided we should go to the right where we meandered for a bit before coming to our first dead end of the day. The rock here, though rounded, is somewhat sharp and slippery. We walked around for just a few more moments before finding a log to sit against for our quick lunch. John and I have been so fortunate to share some incredible lunch spots :DANCE: this spring and summer. We could hear the hawks and take in this unique scenery.

As we were getting up to explore, it started to rain but only lasted less than a few minutes so we moved to the south and headed up a mini-canyon. I was a little encumbered by my bum arm but followed John up pretty far 'til we really couldn't go any further without a little more effort. It was great fun though and I love climbing around this sort of thing :) . It reminded me a bit of THE Wave where you can climb up and around to explore... but on a much smaller scale here. Nonetheless, it provided high entertainment value for this hike. Last we checked out the area to the east but here you have to go up a log and then go straight up to see what's above.

On our return, we decided to take the cinder slope to the south of the trail and by-pass the dam ladder. I just knew it would be fun to go down the other side. We actually toyed with the idea of going up from here rather than down as there seems to be a path that takes you up and west of the volcano. But getting to the path there was a slippery slope that looked a little too treacherous :scared: so instead, we went over by the big rocks to use as a hand-rail for the sketchy footing one needed to get to the path down this side of the slope. Once to the easy part of the slope, it was a cushy walk down though I was hoping for a little more slide action.

A couple of the hikers behind us decided, rather than using the rocks as hand rails, to slide down on one foot. She did quite good at that while he tried both feet. It's just a small section but it has no grip.

We walked a little ways down the trail to where the cinder slope ends and by that time had decided, since it was early yet (2 PM), to head UP the west side of the mountain. There was still some cinder but with more dirt than cinder and more vegetation, it was faily easy to maintain your footing.

It was a bit of a slog :sweat: up for me but John patiently created a route to follow with itsy bitsy switchbacks so that we wouldn't have to go straight up the entire time. Fortunately the weather really cooperated so it wasn't hot and you would get an occasional breeze. And of course, I would have to turn around now and again to get pictures :D of the new views. John tried to keep us away from the cinder so we stayed to the west side of the slope for the most part. After about 20 minutes you can venture over to the east side of the slope and take a look in at the volcano... but John came back from where we would stop to say I needed to come a little further.

And as we walked our last little bit to the stopping point, we passed a fire ring. Just past here a little ways you encouter a sloping saddle that takes you down and over to the southwest steep slope that you would more or less have to make your way straight up and east to the high point of Red Mountain. But the views from here were simply spectacular :y: . We took a group photo with Humphreys and Slate Mtn along with the volcano in the background and then headed back along side the volcano. In this one area, once again it had that THE Wave look to it along with cool hoo doos and such. It was just so darn cool 8) !

We stayed toward the east side of the slope as we made our way down and tho it was more cinder-like, you could still maintain your footing with relative ease. I was glad that John had taken us up the more western side and down this slightly slippery east side of the slope. And before you knew it, we were back down at the trail and made our way back. The sun was finally starting to come through now, just as I had asked when we started the hike. I wanted to have a couple pictures with the sun on the volcano.

Here are a few videos:
1st part of Red Mountain Trail -
Trailing around in the volcano, back up and out over the cinder slope -
Climbing up and down Red Mountain and back to the TH -

The Red Mtn Trail itself would be a nice quick hike before you head to the GC... it breaks up the riding in the car thing.
Red Mountain Trail #159
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Love, loved this hike. We bet against nature that the storm that followed us in from the the east would just barely miss us. We lost that bet. Not only did it rain relentlessly, but throw in a whole lot of lightning and thunder, some hail and you've got one hell of a good time. It started raining 2 minutes into the hike but we just donned our rain jackets and kept going. It got so bad that we had to hide under some juniper. Wendi remembered a news story over the past week that more men are struck by lightning than women. And the result of that men are too stupid not to golf, fish, or hunt in a lightning storm. "Add hike to that list" she quipped. "What does it say about the wives who follow their husbands into them?" I asked.
Wendi had no sooner said "Watch it start hailing" when it started hailing. Still standing under another juniper tree hoping against hope that it would clear up but then the winds shifted and it became obvious that the storm had turned into us. I tried to guess Wendi's mood and turned back, but she was having none of it. As we walked into the storm, the hoards were walking out. We must have looked pretty silly with our rain jackets and shorts. I got a little excited, that we might have the whole place to ourselves. A group of kids that left just a bit before us were coming back down the trail and warned us that there was two feet of water in the wash that also serves as the trail. We still kept going walking along side the wash when we could and in the water when we had to.
The experience was well worth all the work, but despite it all we still didn't have the place to our selves. There was at least 10 other people scampering about. We climbed up the canyon walls as far as we dared go in the rain, and through falling water as it was channeled through the Whoo-doos and slot canyons. Pretty cool. It never fully stopped raining but the once roaring wash was "dry" on the hike back.

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
Take I-17 North into Flagstaff, then follow Hwy 180 North for about 26 miles. (Follow the signs for the Grand Canyon). You will see a sign for Red Mountain and a dirt road leading off to the west. Follow this a short distance (about a mile) until it ends at a parking area. A sign there marks the start of the trail.

Author writes: Drive North along Highway 180 to MP 247. You will see a sign for Red Mountain. Turn left onto FR follow good dirt road to trail head.
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