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

O'Leary Peak, AZ

no permit
304 55 1
Guide 55 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Flagstaff > Flagstaff NE
3.7 of 5 by 26
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 9.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,950 feet
Elevation Gain 1,996 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4.5-5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 19.68
Interest Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
22  2019-09-14 Naferg323
13  2019-06-19 caragruey
13  2018-07-07
O'Leary LO and Peak
4  2018-07-07 joebartels
4  2018-06-10 DixieFlyer
6  2017-08-12 Nightstalker
10  2017-04-26 chumley
34  2016-08-12
Darton Dome & O'Leary L.O. & O'Leary Peak
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author MtnGeek
author avatar Guides 9
Routes 0
Photos 118
Trips 72 map ( 489 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Denver, CO
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → 1 PM
Seasons   Summer to Autumn
Sun  6:13am - 6:25pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
a walk up a road
by MtnGeek

Likely In-Season!
Driving to the pass is not permitted now. See the official route for details.

O'Leary Peak is one of the lookout Tower Mountains surrounding the Flagstaff area. Few People climb it, which makes for a nice uncrowded climb unlike Mt. Elden or Humphreys Peak. It is located 20 miles north of Flagstaff on the edge of the desert. The views include both looking into the Painted Desert and looking into the basin of the San Francisco Peaks. It also overlooks Sunset Crater.

The Trail to get to the top is a forest service road. You can drive up to the pass between O'Leary and Darton Dome. There is a locked gate there and you need to walk the rest of the way. Only the forest rangers are allowed to drive up to the top. The mountain has 2 summits. The western one is higher. The elevation is 8,938 feet. The tower sits on the east summit at 8,916 feet. It is recommended that you get off the road at the pass between the two summits and hike up the higher one. The view from that summit is incredible. Sunset Crater covered the whole mountain in cinders, so the climb up to the actual summit is not easy. The rocks are very loose and you will get cinders in your boots. After you ascend the actual summit then go to the tower and climb up the tower. The person inside will let you in. From my experience, they do not see many people and enjoy the company.

The road to the top is made for any vehicle to get up there, so the hiking is really easy. If you're not in the best of shape this could be a good mountain for you to try, just take your time and enjoy yourself.

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.

2002-05-02 MtnGeek
    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 23 deeper Triplog Reviews
    O'Leary Peak
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    First time hiking this trail today; I loved it! Trying to get in any last hikes in the Northern Country before it cools off and desert hiking picks back up. For a road hike, this one is not bad, just some parts were like walking on the beach. The crushed lava rock had a very sandy and slow consistency. The views were breathtaking, especially from the top! We were able to go inside the lookout tower with permission from Pam, the lookout stationed there. Was able to walk around the tower and get good photos in all directions. Very beautiful. Awesome views of Sunset Crater and the San Francisco Peaks! Very volcanic scenery was a wonderful change of pace! :)
    O'Leary Peak
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    If not the most popular road walk in Arizona it's definitely in the top twenty. For decades the interest level to do this hike teeter tottered on... I want to / not today. It doesn't make Warren's 100 Hikes in AZ. He leans heavy on Mount Lemmon and the Chiricahua range. Don't get me wrong, the legend did a fine job biting a mean cookie! For this area he choose Lenox Crater. I haven't tiptoed up that cinder slope yet, it certainly looks to have merit.

    Tiffany... we're not alone
    Bruce made a parking space happen. The parking area isn't large. Probably suffices. Nearby closures due to lack of rain has everyone exploring new horizons. Which corralled us too... lol

    Ten minutes up the road three things became crystal clear
    - Parking could be ten times larger and this hike wouldn't come close to Piestewa/Camelback busy
    - Serious pine trees and nearby views erode any boring road preconceived notions
    - This is not a cool, escape the desert heat hike on this toasty day

    Saddle Up
    The grade to the saddle is forgiving. It picks up a notch from there to the lookout. Did I mention the heat?

    Runners and mountain bikers had a fair presence. Everyone was spunky friendly. After Bruce visited the fire lookout we headed for the actual peak. Had my doubts if I was up for the terrain. Turned out to be easier than anticipated. Solid ground must be near as you don't sink and slide much.

    After nine? months without a raindrop on a hike, thunder started cracking the whip just as we arrived to the summit. Our planned break turned into a prolife skedaddle!

    We had drizzle to fierce sprinkles heading down. Apparently Elvis left the mountain as the parking area was a ghost town upon return.

    The itch has been scratched. Fairly dormant now on the return horizon. The pines and views are worthy. Cooler temps... I'd do it again.
    O'Leary Peak
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Somehow I'd never hiked O'Leary before. Couldn't have been more perfect today. The queen would have described the breeze as "fresh". The road is immaculate. This would be amazing for trail running. I managed to make it to the summit in 1:40, almost an hour faster than I had guessed it would take. Snow still caps the peaks and the views in all directions were great.

    I wouldn't want to do this in summer. There's no shade and the cinders must be pretty hot. It's a great spring hike though and would be a good workout for anybody who lives close.

    To avoid the wrath of mr mazzies, I made sure to hit the real peak! :lol:
    O'Leary Peak
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Hey wait a minute, were not peak-baggers, what are we doing hiking two peaks in two days :) I enjoyed this road walk as it was real easy to get a nice stride going. Noticeably steeper at the top. Really enjoyed seeing the lava flow area close up and from the top. Made it back to the trailhead just before the rain hit.
    O'Leary Peak
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This was a better hike than I expected. The views are great! Most of the hike, going both up and down, the views of the Peaks, Sunset Crater, Bonito Lava Flow and the surrounding area for many miles are visible. Of course, the whole hike is up a closed fire road to the lookout, but it's not bad. At least there are no vehicles. At the summit I met another hiker from out of state who had similar interests (geology, backpacking, etc.) and so we had a lot of information to share on the way down. This made the downhill part go faster, less of a slog. On a day when there was no parking left at the Elden trailhead, there were relatively few hiking O'Leary. I saw fewer than 10 all day.
    O'Leary Peak
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Up in flagstaff for a long weekend
    Read the trip logs for O'Leary and it sounded like a worthy peak
    At the trailhead by 10 and took off
    Nice trail/road through beautiful pine forest
    The cinders make for unique scenery
    Steady ascent
    Hit the tower first and was able to go up
    Wonderful views of elden, the Peaks, sunset crater, etc
    While I was up there the lady spotted a fire at the base of elden
    She called in bearing and mileage
    It has been very windy up here today
    Left the tower and went up to the high point
    Two steps up and one slide down
    Luckily it was a short climb
    Easier coming down
    Cruised back down with big views all the way
    Saw maybe a dozen people
    Very nice hike and area
    Estimating mileage and elevation from trip computer for now
    O'Leary Peak
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    SPECIAL NOTE: This hike was done on Sunday, August 31, 2014. Oddly, the HikeAz calender wouldn't let me select that day.

    This was our plan B hike, having been unable to camp at Lockett Meadow, we decided against driving in to hike the Inner Basin Trail. We had a feeling that we were doomed to failure from the beginning but that didn't mean we couldn't enjoy the adventure. We know from previous experience that the two of our bodies are not optimized for hiking at altitude so we just hiked as far as we could go, by the time we reached the saddle just connecting Darton Dome to O'leary we were spent but we pushed ourselves on rounding the first switch back before quitting prolly round about .5 miles from the top.
    We at lunch commiserating over our decision to quit, but only for a short time. Then we lifted our eyes and just enjoyed the views
    The obvious spectacles were of course the lava flows below and the Sunset Crater beyond, but I was more drawn to the lesser hills nested between Darton Dome and Sunset Crater. I couldn't help but think of being inside one of the paintings of one my favorite local painters Philip C. Curtis. I couldn't help but be certain that he had been here and seen these oddly blackened hills bathed in sunlight, and dotted by pine trees whose own shadows were visible only set against their own fallen midden. I dont know that I have ever been to a more surreal environment.
    Though we never summitted we were still uplifted as we came back down amongst the shade of the pines, and their cool embrace. We passed a lot of people who knew had no plans to even leave the shade of the pines, and why would they, in truth I shouldn't neglect the walk along side the lava flows. Aspen's grow along side the blackness of the flows, their white bark never whiter. Yellow flowers, mostly Blackeyed Susans blanket the few hill tops that aren't capped in cinder.
    Amazingly zen place, maybe one of my favorites.
    A little tip for those who dont mind adding another .25 mile or so to both legs, and also who are also camping at the Bonita Campgrounds. Not too far west of the amphitheatre is a path that takes you up to the TH. The path is not distinct but just follow valley where the amphitheatre is, west and it will be obvious what to do.
    O'Leary Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Sign at the trailhead says its 5 miles to the fire tower, so I'm not sure if either the posts on here quoting the length as 9.7 or as an even 10 are accurate. Two workers assigned to check on water damage near the top told us the fire tower was 7 miles up...

    Regardless of it's actual length, I cannot believe this trail is not more popular. In the 3 hours and 27 minutes it took us to hike to the Fire Tower and back to the car we saw no other people besides the two workers. The trail is wide and easy to walk along since it is a gravel road open only for the rangers to get to the watchtower. I would classify the grading to the top as difficult. While fairly flat at the beginning, once you get past the lava field it's up up up all the way. Amazing views of Sunset Crater and the San Francisco Peaks. Wildflowers. And yes, we got rained on. We took the dog, he loved it. There is some sporadic shade from the larger pine trees at the edges of the trail/road. But it would have been a bit of a hot hike if it hadn't been for the cloud cover. The trail/road is largely out in the open so it's not a great place to be if a storm hits. Luckily for us, we heard thunder but no lighting.
    O'Leary Peak
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    i've had this one on my radar for a while, so i figured i'd check it out before heading back home from Flag. started at 6:45 and it was gorgeous weather the whole way. there were flowers galore and beautiful trees and views the whole way. fabulous views from the summit. this is a great hike. i'd do it all the time if i were a local :)
    O'Leary Peak
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Great hike. I wasn't anticipating doing the entire 10 miles of this hike, but the views were just fascinating! The entire hike was on a Forest Service Road which made the walking a bit easier. But, gets a bit steep toward the top. Minimal amount of snow on the road. As you climb the road, the views become more and more impressive. To the South-east you can see the Sunset Crater Volcano NP, and massive lava flow. To the East you can see the Painted Desert, to the West is the San Francisco Peaks, and to the North just a glimpse of the Canyon! Loved it. At the top is the Fire Lookout. This time of year, obviously, no one manning the station. But, I would love to come back in the summer when hopefully someone will be there. Would be neat to get a tour of the tower, and catch the view from there with a pair of binoculars. Will definitely do this hike again. The dogs loved it, too. Only 2 parties on the trail today. Nice and quiet - just how I like it.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To O'Leary Trailhead
    From Flagstaff drive north on US 89 to Sunset Crater Rd. Turn right on Sunset Crater Rd and follow it almost all the way to Sunset Crater National Monument. Turn left on forest road 545A. You will come to a fork in the road and stay to your right. You want to follow the Bonita lava flow almost the whole way to the mountain.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 168 mi - about 2 hours 37 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 273 mi - about 4 hours 6 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 21.6 mi - about 30 mins
    help comment issue

    end of page marker