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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Secret Meadow, AZ

no permit
104 17 0
Guide 17 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Flagstaff > Flagstaff NW
3.9 of 5 by 8
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 2.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,279 feet
Elevation Gain 840 feet
Accumulated Gain 980 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.3
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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8  2018-09-15 MountainMatt
6  2016-09-18 whycoyote
12  2016-09-11 fotogirl53
11  2014-08-30 paulawolf
4  2014-06-17 Stoic
4  2013-10-11 burntlizard
13  2013-08-10 chumley
10  2013-08-10 ASUAviator
Page 1,  2
Author ssk44
author avatar Guides 19
Routes 12
Photos 2,250
Trips 274 map ( 830 miles )
Age 44 Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Sep, Oct, Jun → Any
Seasons   Early Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  6:14am - 6:25pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
by ssk44

Likely In-Season!
Overview: Within the northern Coconino National Forest resides an unnamed mountain that from a distance, looks just like any other mountain. Looks can be deceiving... Hidden from view of anyone below is a unique sanctuary formed by a million year old volcanic crater. Recessed cinder cones are not uncommon in this area, but what is uncommon is an 11 acre beautiful tree lined meadow. The rim of the mountain is a mild roller coaster with a high-point summit of 8,141. The secret meadow sits on average about 120 vertical feet below the rim. Standing in this meadow has a special quality to it that must be experienced in person. It feels so private and untouched. It's like you stepped down onto a segment of land that time forgot. It can be windy along the rim and dead calm down in the lower meadow. Elk love this location! Having a close encounter with wildlife is very likely. I certainly had one! You could find just about anything hiding up there.

Hike: The hike is mostly easy and self-explanatory (see attached maps). From the posted trailhead you will hike along a visible crest straight to the top. The initial climb involves about 540 vertical feet of steep terrain with good shade from ponderosa pine. The upper rim above the trailhead is open and grassy with no trees. Areas along the rim offer good shade from ponderosa pine, however much of the top is very exposed. Keep that in mind if thunderstorms are in the area. Now that you've reached the top, take a nice break and soak in the vast far-reaching views. From this point the hike is basically up to you. I highly recommend walking along the entire rim and also spending some time within the meadow itself. How you go about it really doesn't matter. Just have fun and take your time! Photography opportunities are nearly endless. The views towards Humphreys Peak are some of the best in the area.

Camping: All camping throughout the surrounding area is designated as "dispersed". Dispersed camping is legal throughout most regions of the Coconino National Forest. Always utilize existing sites and verify any possible fire restrictions prior to your visit.

Overview: This is a unique destination that is unlike anything I have ever found. I truly love places like this. This off-trail hike is neither intimidating nor challenging. It's a peaceful weekend escape that will likely not disappoint. The lower meadow would be a superb location for an easy weekend backpacking trip with good protection from the wind and elements. I highly recommend visiting this destination if you're in the area or live in Flagstaff. Count on having it all to yourself if you go.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2010-09-07 ssk44
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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 Triplog Reviews
Secret Meadow
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Not sure that we were ready for the very steep climb in and out but everyone agreed this hidden gem was worth every slip, bump, and scratch we may have acquired. I recommend checking out SSK's topo map to find the most gradual route. We did take FR9007 up to the base but I think there is less brush on the north/western side where we came out.
Secret Meadow
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I regret venturing out to Secret Meadow for the first time during elk-hunting season. I didn't find the solitude I was hoping for, at all. There weren't any other people at the meadow itself, but I must have encountered at least two dozen vehicles on the roads out to it. Secret Meadow does not seem to be a secret to elk hunters. The only wildlife I saw was strapped to the back of a quad. I would strongly discourage anyone from hanging out in this area at dusk or dawn, during season, and I would think twice about bringing a dog. I'd like to try this spot again in the spring, I think.
Secret Meadow
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This hike was on my wish list and now it's not! My son and I headed up Friday morning, so we could get acclimated to the elevation :stretch: , before attempting Humphrey's on Saturday.

This area did not disappoint, in fact, except for a few Elk hunters, we were virtually the only humans around for miles :D Hence the name Secret Meadow! Of course the initial hike is difficult, but we chose the S curve method, as opposed to straight up. Once on top the views are incredible....oh and did I mention, there are no other human around for miles? :y:

Also, this was the first hike, for which, I did not have to lug that heavy camera around. My new I-Phone worked great. Especially the panoramic shots!

Conversely, I took FR 9007 off of FR 549 and it took us almost up to the base.
Secret Meadow
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Normally this hike would have been a breeze. Well normally I'm not recovering from an ankle strain. It has been feeling better so I decided to give this one a go. I went nice and slow on the hike up. I felt some discomfort a few times. I had to switchback on my way up. This minimized the bending of my foot. All of us topped out on the rim. Vicky and I watched the others hike down into the meadow. After a few minutes I started the very slow hike back to the truck. I took my time and had no issues. I'll be back on the trails in another week, two at most.
Secret Meadow
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Ever since SSK44 posted this a couple of years ago, I'd wanted to check it out. We were caught off guard a bit with the climb. It's pretty steep and climbs over 600 feet in just 0.4 miles. (HAZfest breakfast beers may have played a factor in the breath-robbing climb?)

There were a bunch of flowers on the outside of the crater, but fewer in the crater and none in the "meadow". I hiked down to the bottom and did a loop. It's definitely a neat area. We didn't see any wildlife, but found evidence that some big elk had met their demise here. Presumably by way of mountain lion.

We were running a little late and needed to get back to camp, so I skipped the circumnavigation around the top, having seen enough from the meadow itself. But I think there would have been some nice views if we had more time to spend and explore.
Secret Meadow
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Secret meadow ........ We couldnt find the trailhead, or any trail for that matter but its pretty obvious once you arrive where you are heading. The climb is steep and steady. It was rainy weather at the time we went. It isnt the most scenic of views but we did run into some deer and a young buck (elk) while we were leaving. Its really not all that scenic in my opinion, but the chances of running into wildlife make it worthwhile. An additional unfortunate consisted of people shooting semi automatic weapons in the vacinity, killing any sense of serenity.

I give it a 2.5.
Secret Meadow
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See hike description...

I found this little gem courtesy of Google Earth. I was like a kid in a candy store when I found it. I just knew it was going to be good and I couldn't wait to see it in person. It did not disappoint. I had a hunch that elk might hide out up there. During my visit I saw one group of elk at the trailhead and two groups within the trees surrounding the upper meadow. Four of those elk surrounding the upper meadow were respectable bulls. My encounters were amazingly up close and personal. What a great way to spend the afternoon. Great views, solitude, and wildlife. It doesn't get much better!

Eric (ssk44) :D

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To hike
From mid-town Flagstaff, turn onto Highway 180 (Snowbowl/Grand Canyon) and drive approximately 23 miles to FR523, which is just north of Kendrick Park. Drive mostly east along FR523 for approximately 4.6 miles to FR416. Drive north along FR416 for approximately 1.0 mile to FR549. Drive mostly northwest along FR549 for approximately 0.7 mile to the posted trailhead (Lat. 35 Degrees/28'/24.41"/N & Long. 111 Degrees/42'/16.24"/W). FR416 and FR549 are non-maintained forest roads. The posted trailhead is located at an elevated bend/saddle along FR549. FR549 begins to slope downward heading north from the trailhead. See attached maps for more info.
page created by ssk44 on Sep 07 2010 12:27 pm
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