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Little Gnarly, AZ

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Guide 23 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Flagstaff > Flagstaff NE
3.5 of 5 by 8
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Distance One Way 2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,077 feet
Elevation Gain 400 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 3.33
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
27  2018-08-25
Sunset Trail #23 - Flagstaff
7  2018-07-24
Brookbank Trail #2
4  2017-06-23
Dry Lake Hill Hustle
10  2016-09-24
Mount Elden - Dry Lake Hills Loop
14  2016-09-24
Mount Elden - Dry Lake Hills Loop
33  2016-09-11
Schultz Tank - Dry Lake Hills Loop
8  2015-10-03
Elden Super Loop
12  2015-10-03
Elden Super Loop
Page 1,  2
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Preferred   Sep, May, Jun, Aug
Sun  6:11am - 6:31pm
Official Route
13 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby

Likely In-Season!

Author Full Detail Guide
Overview: Relatively short connector trail between the Sunset Trailhead and the Brookbank Trail. Little Gnarly is not part of the official FS trail system due to it crossing private land. The private land is open to public use, and sees a heavy amount of mountain bike and hiking use. Little Gnarly crosses the edge of the beautiful meadows of the Dry Lake Hills

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One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
Little Gnarly
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Mount Elden - Dry Lake Hills Loop
This is one of our go to hikes now for color.
This seems to be the correct week for this one based on our previous 2 trips here.

We hit the Elden Lookout Trail #4 at about 8am and started the more than 2400' climb to the Lookout. Once you hit the saddle where the Sunset Trail ends, the Aspens were all aglow. There are nice tunnels of Aspens leading you up to the Lookout. This is the first time the Lookout was open while I was up there and I took legal advantage of going up into the tower. The gentleman manning the tower said he would pack it up Tuesday the 27th for the season.

A short road walk on the Lookout Road and we rejoined the Sunset Trail #23. Golden views back to Elden Mountain to the SE and other Aspen stands to the West are.... Nice... This is an enjoyable trail that takes you through Sunset Park, stands of Aspen and then lower to old growth conifer and some grassy areas.

We had never done the the upper portion of the Brookbank Trail #2 before. It will be in the rotation, as it was quite enjoyable. Mostly tall Ponderosa and smooth trail.

Once out to the Little Gnarly Trail, we headed westish across another new section for us, Dry Lake Hills. We took this to it's drop to the Rocky Ridge Trail #153.

The Rocky Ridge Trail #153, is a pleasant roller coaster through mixed conifer and deciduous.

The 1600' climb back to the top, starts in earnest on the Oldham Trail #1 and then Upper Oldham Trail. A steady climb at first and then gets steeper by the switchbacks approaching Oldham Park.

It was nice to be at the top again on the Sunset Trail, albeit a tad cold. We changed plans on our return to the truck to attempt get a good sun setting on the Aspen section of the Sunset trail. We missed prime light by 20 minutes or so. But, were able to catch a bit of golden light on the Eastern end.

All in all a nice new version of this loop.

On the upper portions of the Elden Lookout Trail, above the Sunset Trail the Aspens were almost completely prime yellow. The Sunset Trail also was popping yellow!
Little Gnarly
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Mount Elden - Dry Lake Hills Loop
Based on a couple subtle observations it felt like Autumn might be a week early. We rolled the dice and lucked out.

Elden Lookout Trail #4
It wasn't cold enough to warrant long sleeves, simply perfect weather. The nearby dog food plant really stunk up the place for our first hour. My feathered naysayer companion held firm until we were surrounded in a lightbox of yellow atop Elden. On the same token he was kind enough to patiently wait while I took a crash course in insta media relations.

Sunset Trail #23
We religiously take a wrong turn off the summit and this year was par for course. Should we happen to get it right in the future an honorary fudge is in order. The views over to Humphreys never get old. Did I mention the weather? Phenomenal Autumn breeze, sweet yet slightly tangy. Away from Lookout #4 we only encountered a few hikers, such a shame. It got chilly enough to put on long sleeves for a half hour before Brookbank.

Brookbank Trail #2
We've hiked the lower portion of this trail many times. We changed the loop and got to explore the upper. Wow, what a great stretch of forest.

Flats & Gnarly Descent
Near the flats of Dry Lake Hills Bruce took a page out of a previous Tibber-Gecko hike. After working across the flats we lunched on the edge of a descent with nice distant views. The descent was semi ferocious. Albeit a trail it appeared blocked off when we bottomed out with Rocky Ridge #153

Rocky Ridge Trail #153
Neither bad nor exceptional... I barely recall our ~2 miles.

Oldham Trail #1
I've always enjoyed this one. We even have our break spots down to a science.

Lasso's Rock
On 2 previous loops we've returned on the Heart and Christmas Tree trails. We mutually agreed the only thing cool about the Christmas Tree trail is the name. In addition we'd never hiked the upper most half mile of Sunset #23. Considering it was a sea of yellow aspen the decision to change the loop to a lasso loop was easy.

Unfortunately we missed the fading sun by ten to fifteen minutes. Half of the stretch was still in full glory and it was great to mark off the trail as complete.

Elden Lookout Trail #4
The descent was shaded all the way down. We finished right at 6pm when Bruce told Debbie we'd finish. This was my first time descending and it reminded me Camelback... not a fan. Exactly like Camelback I love the ascent!

Perfect weather ruled.

the top of Elden is brilliant aspen yellow
Little Gnarly
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Schultz Tank - Dry Lake Hills Loop
SATURDAY: Helped out a bit at the Arizona Trail Days in Flagstaff on Saturday. It's really a very nice event with vendors and hikers and horseback riders and Jasmine the donkey of course. I was very impressed with Jack Welch who received special recognition. He has contributed a lot to the outdoor life around Flagstaff: ... html.
I happened to be in the right place at the right time so ended up volunteering to being the cashier in the beer garden where Wanderlust Brewing was serving up three lovely craft beers including Arizona Trail Ale. They were very gracious and also donated all proceeds and tips to the Arizona Trail. I found their coffee stout very good and they tell me there is a fine wheat beer they serve at the brewery. I like their theme as it matches up with my signature, "Beers for the Journey".

SUNDAY: Back to the hike. Wendy was ill so couldn't join me. I drove on Elden Springs Road which is in very good shape to Schultz Tank TH where I started. I've parked at this TH a few times but had never gone to see the Tank. There are even some ducks in there. I headed west toward the Sunset TH on an unnamed trail. There were a few cars at the TH and at the Trail gate there was a sign about a "bears" spotting. Well how 'bout that! The Little Gnarly Trail is actually part of the Schultz Loop trail and is a pretty nice road. Eventually you work your way up and up and up on this road encountering some aspen along the way.

The forest service has been active in here as well as on other parts of this route as there is a lot of road work going on as you make your way to the Dry Hills lakes. There is lots of drainages and tree trunks with orange markings. I topped out at the lake, it was pretty full. I took some photos and worked my way around to the right and over to the signs about Brookbank Meadow (mostly for my youtube viewers).
From there I continued on the road/trail and decided at the fork to go left but not before taking pictures of quite a mixture of wildflowers. I also noticed this big batch of white something on the top of a tall fir tree... it was all pine cones so I zoomed in for some pics. I encountered two other hikers who said there was a nice viewpoint at the end and to climb up on the rocks... and so I did. I was hoping the trail would continue west from here to hook up with Lost Burrito but it dead ends. I dubbed this Little Gnarly Pointe.

I headed back and went down the Jedi which is in pretty rough shape from all the rain. I hope the bike riders will be careful as some of their bridges and such are not serving their purpose anymore. I stopped and admired the aspen grove/meadow; sure is pretty :) . I did encounter a trail runner coming up the trail. It does have a couple tight switchback sections that one needs to be a bit careful on. Then I hooked up with a connector trail that takes you up to Sunset or down to Schultz Creek so I headed down Schultz Creek Trail as I decided to take that back to the TH as I hadn't been on it before. It is close to the road in parts so I hoped the traffic noise wouldn't be too bad and it wasn't. There was even a tad of water in the creek.

At the Sunset TH I talked to a couple motorcyclists and was commenting about the the orange striped forest. He said he had talked to a forest service person who said they were working on trying to restore the region to the way it was before we came along. Personally I don't think it's "we" that caused the change but the cyclical climate change. Anyway, there were many orange marked trees thruout my hike so it looks like they plan to be pretty aggressive about it.

I continued on the Sunset Trail to the other side of Schultz Tank and then down to the TH via Schultz Tank. It is a pretty site with the SF Peaks in the distance.

A note, the aspen were starting to turn in some areas already. I could see at the top of Elden quite a bit of yellow. Interestingly, the aspen were turning at different elevations on my hike which was odd. You would think only at the top but even around Schultz Tank there was some aspen turning.

It was a perfect day for a hike though a bit windy at times. I changed my pants and shoes, sent a couple pics on FB and headed to Subway for a sandwich to eat on the way home. Today I took the time to stop at the rest stop where you can see the landmarks of Sedona in the far distance. I haven't stopped here in a couple decades I bet. I remember stopping here with my mother for the first time and how amAZed we were.

Videos are in production, altho 2 are done.

Video 1 Schultz Tank to Dry Lake Hills lake - ... oYHc
Video 2 to Little Gnarly Point - ... scAo
Video 3 to and on the Jedi - ... t-Vo
Video 4 finishing the Jedi - ... dMoA
Video 5 Schultz Creek to Tank and I-17, Sedona Vista - ... vdb4
Little Gnarly
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Elden Super Loop
Bruce and I did "the" Elden Super Loop three years ago and really enjoyed it. Today we did a "sorta super" loop with CHUMS and Dave. Left out was the filet portion of Fatmans Loop Trail #25. Which any Elden Super Loop fanatic knows as the icing on this cake.

Check out my 2012 triplog for individual trail segment reviews.

Heading up Elden we found ourselves constantly passed by an Aravaipa Running event. For a good mile our attention was devoted to keeping an eye on approaching runners. They were all friendly and Bruce needed the mini breaks on the steep incline so it all worked out.

This hike was very nice simply due to the weather and company.

Carried 4 quarts, consumed about 1.7

Timing is prime. It's just that we have seen it more spectacular in the past. We didn't receive a hard freeze that I know of so it's more likely dependant on the moisture pattern this year. The leaves have the pitted burnt look for reference.
Little Gnarly
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Elden Super Loop
Perfect weather for this one.

We hit the normal light flow of hikers while leaving the TH, but once we hit the intersection with Fat Mat's Loop, traffic got real heavy. Little did we know we'd timed our trip to Mount Elden, with Arrivipa Running groups "Sky Race" that features a 39K and 55K Race.

As we were hiking up the Mt Elden Trail, we were passed by HikeArizona's own Frick Naley, who was running the 39K race. :app:

The besterest of the yellow Aspens we saw were on the short climb from the Sunset Trail intersection to the Fire Tower.

A road walk from the tower to regain the Sunset trail and we made our way over to Schultz tank. The water here looked pretty darn good.

Up Little Gnarly, past the Dry Lakes Hill Tank, we made our way downhill to hit the Oldham Trail. This one has a steady climb back up to the Sunset Trail.

From here it was mainly downhill back to the truck.

This is a great sampler hike for what the City of Flagstaff has to offer in Hiking and outdoor activities!

A great day in the cool weather of Flagstaff, finished off with Pizza at NiMarco's. :DANCE:
Little Gnarly
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Elden Super Loop
I'd never hiked up Elden before so I thought that this would be a great opportunity to grab a new peak while enjoying the perfect autumn weather in Flagstaff. The airport temperature was 29 as we passed through Munds Park, but I don't think the car thermometer ever dropped below 44.

The aspens are yellow but have some green remaining, and a lot of leaves already fallen. It looks a little dull actually.

We tested the new live updating water reports via Route Scout at Schultz Tank, took lunch near the Brookbank junction and cruised on the way down.

Had to fight the crowds as today featured a running race, but that only lasted for the first two hours. I think I saw a doctor from Tucson. The guy was fast though and I never saw him again.

Dave was having none of the extra Fatmans Loop so we skipped that and saw 6 deer instead. Good hike. Good peeps. :)
Little Gnarly
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Lost Burrito - Jedi Loop
Sometimes it pays to be snoopy when someone is on the same trail as you but arrived from a totally different direction. Two weeks ago I encountered some hikers that I saw near the intersection of Brookbank and Little Gnarly Trails and I asked them where they came from. The Lost Burrito she says. The "what"? So the next day I started googling "Lost Burrito Trail", in particular, a gps track. To find that turn off of Rocky Ridge, you need that track.

I was glad Kelly was willing to give this and the other route I found, The Jedi Trail, a shot. I prefer to do new discoveries of unmarked trails with others; altho my track following skills are much better... provided I've been given the right track. Saturday afternoon's hike got us nice and acclimated for the 1100 elevation gain we would have to do in what I thot was 1.66 miles but fortunately it was over 1.9 miles except that the last 1/2 mile was almost all of Shaw Butte :sweat: .

Anyway, it was a nice morning and we headed out from the Schultz Creek TH up the Rocky Ridge Trail. In about 10 minutes I pulled out HAZel (the HAZtraks narrator now has a name) so that we wouldn't miss the turn. And it's easily missable. The Lost Burrito Trail (one of Flagstaff's oldest bike mountain biking trails) is definitely a trail once you make the turn. It does start to go up right away but not bad and there are several flatter areas to catch your breath. We were delightfully surprised at how nice the trail was through this bottom section. There was only one spot where we ran into a route discussion as the the track (from 2011) we were following wanted to go up a drainage but you could see where the trodden trail kept going straight (though it split for just a moment). So KEEP ON THE MAIN TRAIL and you'll be fine.

You go thru this little boulder area that is pretty cool as you meander your way up switching directions from time to time. It's hard to believe they ran sheep through here. It is mostly shaded which is nice and as you get up a little higher you get momentary views of varying vistas though I'm not sure what we were looking at so maybe you will be able to tell by the pictures I post. One thing we could see was one of the telescope observatories; not sure if that's the one that saw Pluto first.

Well I'm thinking, this climb is not too bad but then again, we had only made it to the first little summit. NOW the real work would begin : rambo : . It was a doozy getting up one section of that last 1/2 mile; plus it was slippery. I'm sure that's why the hiker I met two weeks ago on the trail said NOT to go down it. Up, up, up we went with an occasional breather to check out the expanding views and take a picture of course. The last bit I did the TibberShuffle where I would hike a few steps, breathe, breathe, hike a few more, breathe, breathe but I felt good and knew the top was near. We had a breeze too for this last section so that always helps.

The top area is pretty with some wildflowers scattered about and a nice long log to have a seat and re-energize. There were some beetles there too. They were checking out my track on Kemosabe. After re-fueling it was on with our adventure as we walked thru the woods looking for the first dry lake. And it opened up beautifully to a graceful grass meadow surrounded by the forest. We walked along the north side of it and then up and over a knoll where we found an additional trail that seems to run north/south.

We saw a bike rider over on the other side but were unsure as to where he was going. I thot this might go to the trail Jake had done in 2010 that he called (Little Gnarly to Lost Burrito). So whether or not the Lost Burrito also goes on the south side of that western Dry Lake is a question. However, my track said we were on the Lost Burrito. Also at this intersection of trails is a nice grove of aspen. Little did we know we would get treated with more of this later today.

Anyway, you come to the next open meadow where there are lots of slash piles. Two weeks ago I saw these from the far side on the Brookbank Trail. The Brookbank Meadow is just lovely as we continued to the eastern side of the Dry Lake where there is a pond full of water right now. We checked that out and then headed back to the intersection with the Lost Burrito, Brookbank and Jedi and headed on the Jedi Trail. Off to the west is another pretty grove of aspen. We pulled over for a snack on a rock and in the shade of some fir trees.

Next it was to the kitchen sink but not before a father and son went through on their bikes. I had seen the kitchen sink on my hike here two weeks ago when I, for some reason, decided I was going the wrong way. It's a great hike through here as well but then you get teased with some more aspen only to walk a bit further to a small grassy meadow with aspen spread before you :DANCE: . It was breath-taking (the good kind!). We took picture after picture here. We were so pleased; mostly because it was so unexpected.

The trail continues through the aspens and then the forest as it contours down around the hillside. You will encounter a couple very short slippery sections and some interesting bike jumps/bridges as you make your way to the Little Gnarly. We had two bike riders pass us by on this section. You get occasional views of the SF Peaks too. From the Little Gnarly it's just a hop, skip and jump to the Schultz Creek Trail. It was starting to get a bit more overcast now. It's still very green here and there were spots of various flora including Columbine and Arizona Rose (LOVE the smell, clove-like).

The bike traffic was significant and not quite as polite as I had two weeks ago. Kelly kept us going as I tried to remember what was coming up. I mostly remember that last 1/2 mile before you get to the intersection with the Fort Valley trail. It's quite impressive that big re-route they did about a mile from the TH. The trail is in great shape but you do have to be mindful of the bike traffic.

A great day of discovery and we lucked out because the scenery was great. Thanks Kelly for helping me check it out. There are lots of loop possibilities out there. And who knew bike routes could actually be fun to hike.

Part 1: Lost Burrito to the top ... 9To8
Part 2: Lost Burrito cont'd thru Dry Lakes area ... TaDU
Part 3: The Jedi Trail (it's a beauty) ... obg8
Part 4: rest of Jedi and Schultz Creek Trails - ... -Bjg

some columbine, lupine and purple loco along with some ground daisies
Little Gnarly
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Schultz Loop
what to do, what to do? I was going to do Slate and Red Mountains as it has been since 2011 that I did those with johnr1 but then I looked at the temps and decided, "Nope, surely there has to be something cooler." So then I looked at the eastish side of Elden but nope, the temps were higher than I wanted and then I remembered I had put together lots of trail possibilities on the westish side. So I did some Rx and built my route; tried to get various people to go with me but to no avail. I considered doing a workout on Sunday AM but decided I really needed to hike as it had been two weeks.

After Rxing further I decided I would try and find the Schultz Creek TH (didn't realize what a main TH that was). I started on the Rocky Ridge Trail at around 9:30, it was already warm. I started feeling light-headed and nauseous fairly quickly. I was hoping this was not the new me and hiking as this happened a couple weeks ago. Anyway, I kept on hiking, checking out the wildlflowers, smelling the wonderful air, taking video and occasionally stepping aside for bike riders. Eventually you get up on more of a ridge with views to the SW and Flagstaff. The trail is really pretty nice but then again, it appears to be well traveled by bike riders.

I heard some dogs and then people and then looked down and saw a couple houses, what? but then a little later I saw the road and realized the track follows pretty close to the road to Elden Lookout so that would explain a few houses. I reached the intersection where the trail continues to Buffalo Park and as part of the AZT it continued that way too or you hang a left and head on the Brookbank Trail altho at the time I wasn't sure if I was on the Brookbank, Rocky Ridge or a connector Trail. Which reminds me, I learned that when I have all of the various trails as one on my route to waypoint where each one starts so I know which one I'm on.

It's kind of weird being next to the road like that and then you cross it to what looks like another major TH as there is a big sign and such. Here you hang a left and continue for awhile past a climbing area and then you cross the road again and continue on the trail. I paused for a moment to listen to the birds before beginning the climb up Brookbank (which after researching the bike riders call it Lower Brookbank). I saw a bike pusher ahead as the trail got steeper. He didn't go much further before turning around for his ride down. I found a nice rock to sit on for about 5 minutes before finishing my hike to the top but not before encountering 3 hikers before the junction with the Sunset Trail.

I could see blue sky so I knew I was near the top. There were a lot of ferns in this area and after walking the trail between the ferns you are greeted with a meadow. Walking further you can see lots of slash piles off to the left and then as you clear the trees, there are the San Francisco Peaks. This whole area was a delightful surprise :DANCE: There is a trail that splits off to the right and I believe that takes you to Upper Brookbank via the other side of the pond which K&K and I did in 2013.

As I continued walking straight, to my right I thot I could see a pond and though I thot the trail continued straight there was a path over to the pond area so I went over to investigate. There seemed to be quite a bit of water in it. And then I headed back to what appeared to be new kiosk-like signage that talked about the Brookbank Meadow which is actually owned by the Navajo.

I encountered some hikers who came up the Lost Burrito Trail. "The what?" I said. And they explained how it came off at about the .6 mile mark of the Rocky Ridge Trail and it was steep. They said they were headed down the Little Gnarly. I guess I didn't grasp that they were going one way to the LG and I was going a different. So I continued straight from where I had turned right (the way the other hikers were going). It was really pretty here as I started heading down the mountain.

For some reason I decided to check my HAZtraks and I quickly discovered I was going the wrong way ](*,) and that the other hikers were going the right way. So I retraced my steps where I did encounter two bike riders coming down this trail. Well come to find out after getting home and checking out some maps, the trail I was on is The Jedi; it would have been a different right way. ;)

So back I went and past the pond where apparently the Little Gnarly Trail starts back into the forest. I then started to recognize the trail from when I did this with Kathy and Karl back in 2013. By this time I was getting pretty hungry so I pulled over to have some lunch. I listened to and filmed part of a bird conversation. The skies were darkening. Two bike riders were heading up. I was soon on my way again. I would start seeing columbine which I thot was odd as it was along the road. I eventually encountered what I thot was the junction with the trail I had originally been on at the top as it does merge with LG (after studying the bike map when I got home). Soon you reach the junction with the Sunset Trail which is what K&K and I took two years ago because that's where we started. I, on the other hand was parked at the Schultz Creek TH so I opted to continue to Schultz Creek. Here I encountered two out of town bicyclists.

So now after re-calculating, I probably had about a little less than 4 miles to go on the Schultz Creek Trail since I bypassed the Sunset u-turn. The thunder would rumble from time to time and I knew the chance of rain was 30% but I had my 100% rain cover in my umbrella if I needed it. I stopped to smell the roses a couple times, the scent was simply lovely :) . I feared this trail would be noisy and crowded but it was really nice almost the whole way; other than 3 racing bike riders and a car of people sharing their music with Mother Nature. There was miscellaneous flora along the way and the cloud cover made it quite pleasant despite the rise in humidity.

Not too far after reaching the junction with the Arizona Trail, it did start to sprinkle so I did get my umbrella out for about a quarter mile. There was another couple forks in this trail that take you to the right but I stayed left and confirmed it on my HAZtraks. If you went to the right you'd just end up on the road so not a big deal. There would be bike riders off and on but most rang their bell and were very nice which makes up for the bad experience I had on AZT34 last summer.

Once again there were lots of slash piles along this part of the trail too and some re-routes it looked like. Over to my left I saw some cement foundations so I went over to investigate. After researching, those are the remnants of the CCC camp for the workers that helped build the Schultz Pass road. I could only find one picture online though and none of the camp back in the 30s. This trail is also part of the Fort Valley system as there is a sign posted at another trail junction.

So all in all a very good day. I don't mind the bike riders so much, especially when I'm hiking alone because then I know I am on a trail and not off somewhere I don't want to be. And this day, other than the 3 bikers, everyone was very nice. I took lots of video which means lots of narration like when I got off track etc. My new camera is still at the warranty company for repair or replacement or so their website says. So far two emails to Square Trade Warranty inquiring about status have gone unanswered (me and the new camera had a close encounter with the beach in Oregon).

Part 1: Rocky Ridge and beginning of Brookbank Trail ... hZL4
Part 2: Brookbank Trail to meadow ... dBVA
Part 3: Brookbank Meadow to Little Gnarly ... EnRQ
Part 4: Little Gnarly ... NYMQ
Part 5: Schultz Creek Trail, Part 1 of 2 ... NMik (stabilizing 7-1-15)
Part 6: Schultz Creek Trail, Part 2 of 2 including CCC remnants ... STI4 (stabilizing 7-1-15

Little Gnarly
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Sunset Brookbank Little Gnarly Loop
We had originally planned to do this loop (except include Upper Oldham) a few weeks back but it was called due to weather. Now, with 40% chance of rain, and not being able to do Oldham due to the accident earlier in the week, we forged ahead with a new version of this lasso loop.
We started off real well by parking at the Schultz TH, not realizing there was a separate TH for Sunset :oops: . Karl and I had both studied the topo and route for this hike but apparently missed this minor detail. However, you can indeed reach the Sunset Trail from the Schultz TH. It's just that this day the TH would be rather crowded with the Flagstaff 50 race going on so we retreated to the Sunset TH.

We re-geared up and headed on the trail. We didn't get far though as we ran into a cool mushroom phenomenon; little did we know "shrooms" could easily be the theme for the day. These were absolutely fascinating especially up-close. The inside looked like an air filter. On an upper branch, a couple of them were steaming. The first video shows it pretty well. We photographed it a lot before moving on thru the forest on a delightfully sunny day so far.

But the brakes came on again when we found a tree with one of those big mushrooms attached to it with more mushrooms at its base. We spent a little time here too and this is also where we talked with another older couple that were making their way up the trail. They would be the only hikers we would encounter until we were having lunch at the top of the Sunset Trail.

The trail was pretty nice here as you viewed the mix of trees including pines and aspen. In about 20 minutes we would come upon a meadow and as we made our way, if you looked north, you got a nice view of the SF Peaks :) . Karl also scared up a couple deer here. We walked in this flatter section for awhile before we started descending toward the Brookbank intersection losing 150 feet in about 1/2 mile. This after gaining 700 feet in two miles. We would eventually descend a total of 300 feet from our high point to the junction with Little Bear and Little Elden Trails at about 2 1/2 miles.

Here, once again we were in a meadow for a short time before ascending back up through a heavily forested area with big boulders like you see when you get off the Heart Trail. This is what I had expected more of the trail to be like rather than what we had gone through. I love this part as you make your way up. At the intersection we chatted with one of the runners and his dog. He said something about his time is always slow cuz he chats. This was his second time around coming up from Elden and down Heart. We also encountered other runners and dogs on this part of the trail.

As we looked over to the east we could see some rain storms not knowing that a little one was brewing above us. We encountered some rain as we made our way through Sunset Park and all of us changed to rain gear. Luckily, by the time I decided I was starved and would need to stop for lunch, the sun came out as we made our way to an area with a big log to sit on and near some trees if we needed cover from the rain.

After lunch, we took the Sunset Trail through the baby aspen (some were just starting to turn chatreuse) to the Elden Saddle where we encountered a few more runners and a sign cleaner-upper. We took the steep path up to the towers where the rain started spitting aggressively again. We took refuge under the steps of the tower for awhile and waited for the light hail storm to pass over. It was sunny to the west and the storms from the east, though getting closer, seemed to want to stray south so Karl said, "Let's make a run for it" :gun: .

We headed around the towers back and down the road to connect with the Sunset Trail once again. Here is where we got some more hail and then rain off and on as we made our way back to the Heart Trail junction. But we were not deterred and would still stop to take in the views and get some pics of the wildflowers along this part of the trail.

Once we started heading down through the forest and boulder section, the weather became tenuous again and it looked like they had more water here. You could also see groups of hail sticking together in spots. The tenuous weather would continue for the rest of our trip with a couple moments of sunshine except the last few miles where it decided to rain lightly off and on but mostly on. We made our way to Brookbank arriving there around 3:20 including another "shroom" (this time orange) photo session delay. I wasn't sure of the mileage we had left and due to weather we did discuss just taking the 2 known miles back to the TH. I figured if the total hike was around 11.5, we shouldn't have more than 3 1/2 to 4 left.

It was on the Brookbank that we encountered 4 runners (two older gents and another girl we had seen up at Sunset Park and a tall shirtless younger gent). The older gents said they had got caught in the hail on top too. The Brookbank is a pretty little trail with some small meadows that came in and out of the forest. I do think we kept our heads down a bit more than normal and took less photos of some of the scenery and wildflowers due to rain.

And imagine that, we ran into another "mushroom show" so we had to stop for that. And just a little ways past that, off to the north in the lower valley was rising clouds and in the distance, the SF Peaks were shrouded by rays of fog or rain with blue sky peeking through. At 4:45ish we hit the junction with the sign that says it was another mile to Elden Lookout Road (heading west) or hang a right toward Schultz Loop. I think we were now on a connector that split in a little bit with a trail to the left being part of the Schultz Loop? and Little Gnarly being to the right.

The thunder started pounding but we could see clearing to the east. Soon we came upon a body of water, a stock tank, that was underflowing (leaking out of the bottom). Karl decided to check it out and I followed. As you got atop the dam you are treated to a beautiful body of water with 8) reflections and toward the back, bunches of yellow flowers. And then there was the lightning :scared: and thunder to add a little more flavor to the moment. Karl tried to get a lightning shot but that's pretty hard no matter how fast you are. I got a shot while in video mode (Video 4) but I actually had to slow down the motion a lot to get the horizontal strike.

From there you followed an old road through some pretty cool forest and we spotted more mushrooms here and there. The thunder continued to crackle through the trees and the sky was still dark. Eventually you come to a prescribed burn area where the forest floor is covered in beautiful flowing grass and burnt tree trunks. It's very photogenic though the light wasn't the best. Kathy and Karl had found a bunch of hail nuggets still stuck to the ground at the road barricade area. Now it was just a hop and skip to the TH but not before the mist start rising from the ground. If anything on this hike, it was constant entertainment weather-wise.

Finally back at the car, we ungeared and found it to be a tad chilly. We still had our post-hike beer and enjoyed the scenery as the sun had finally come out now. In fact, the sun was putting on a show with its rays through the trees. I would have to jump up and get my camera to grab a few more pictures. I wish I had thot to video it too.

Now if you thot our show was done, you would be wrong because on the drive back to the main highway, we saw 3 or 4 elk (a couple pictures, no elk), 1/2 dozen deer (a couple pictures, some deer), and hail (a couple pictures, 2 inch high hail piles) that looked like snow as there was so much of it still stuck to the ground. We had to stop so I could get out and investigate closer. I grabbed a pile of it to show Karl as I was so amazed. He was too busy eating huckleberry taffy ;) to come see for himself plus we were stopped in the middle of the road. The road had a lot of running water in places too. Anyway, it was a hail of a day :D !

Video 1 up the Sunset Trail -
Video 2 across the Sunset Trail thru the baby aspen up to the Towers and our hiding spot during the hail and back down the Sunset and more hail -
Video 3 down the Sunset to Brookbank, Brookbank to Little Gnarly -
Video 4 on the Little Gnarly including a stop at a stock tank and to the Sunset TH -

still lots of flower action for this time of year but it's on its last legs I think. Most of the flower action was from the intersection of the Heart to Elden Road.
Little Gnarly
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
A nice loop hike around the Dry Lake Hills. Expected to see a lot more mountain bikers on this hike, which we saw some on the Schultz Creek Trail, but then didn't see any on the other trails. Little Gnarly and Brookbank Trail were the highlights of this loop. The meadow area off the Brookbank Trail was really nice, so nice that we initially missed the sharp turn in the trail so had to back track slightly. Since Ryan was still pack-less he kept a pretty good pace so we made good time.

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To Schultz Trailhead
Location: 7 miles north of Flagstaff on graveled Forest Roads.

Access: Drive north out of Flagstaff on US 180 to FR 420 (Schultz Pass Road). Drive 6 miles east on FR 420 to the trailhead at a parking lot on the south side of the road.

Road Condition: FR 420 is graveled and suitable for passenger cars except during winter when it is closed because of snowpack.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 158 mi - about 2 hours 35 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 263 mi - about 4 hours 5 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 10.1 mi - about 24 mins
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