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Brookbank Trail #2, AZ

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Guide 43 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Flagstaff > Flagstaff NE
3.5 of 5 by 15
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 3.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,529 feet
Elevation Gain 1,008 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,169 feet
Avg Time One Way 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.1
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
9  2018-09-29
Elden - Oldham - Sunset Loop
9  2018-09-29
Elden - Oldham - Sunset Loop
27  2018-08-25
Sunset Trail #23 - Flagstaff
7  2018-07-24 fricknaley
10  2017-08-19
Dry Lake Hills Loop
15  2017-08-19
Dry Lake Hills Loop
6  2017-08-19
Dry Lake Hills Loop
4  2017-06-23
Dry Lake Hill Hustle
Page 1,  2,  3
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   May, Sep, Oct, Jun
Seasons   Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:08am - 6:37pm
Official Route
16 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Bank on it
by HAZ_Hikebot

Likely In-Season!
This trail is conveniently close to Flagstaff and attracts a large number of weekend and afternoon recreators. It is regularly used by mountain bikers, hikers, and horseback riders who come to enjoy the easily accessible escape to quiet and solitude. (Keep an eye out for speeding bikes.) From FR 557 the trail leads up a moderately steep slope along a forested wash. Along the way it offers good views of Flagstaff and the extensive ponderosa pine forest that surrounds it. The rim of Oak Creek Canyon provides a dramatic backdrop. The route passes through alternating areas of forest and meadow as the main feature of the view changes from Flagstaff to the San Francisco Peaks. At this point most likely you'll find yourself reaching for your camera.

There are a number of good places along this trail to observe a variety of wildlife species ranging from elk and mule deer to blue grouse and goshawks. A good way to get an idea of which species of wild animals live in the area is to watch the trail for their tracks, although you may have a hard time sorting out the coyote tracks from those of the family pets which regularly accompany their humans on this trail. If you see the track of one of the black bears which make this area their home, however, you'll probably have no such problem.

The Brookbank Trail ends at a low saddle where it meets the Sunset Trail. This trail leads northwest to Schultz Pass and FR 420 or southeast to the summit of Mt. Elden.

USGS Maps: Humphreys Peak, Sunset Crater West

Location: 3 miles north of Flagstaff on graveled Forest Roads.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
  • Kachina Peaks Map
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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 19 deeper Triplog Reviews
Brookbank Trail #2
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Dry Lake Hills Loop
This typically easy for me hike was among my most difficult, in the end it was among the most rewarding.

2.9 mi on Rocky Ridge Trail #153
Appropriately named compared to other tails in the area. I'd imagine some mountain bikers enjoy the course as the rocks have a firm hold making it more fun than irritating.

left 0.25 mi on Oldham Trail #1

left 3.5 mi on Brookbank Trail #2
Immediately climbs up into the Dry Lake Hills. The only good ascent picking up 700 ft in 1.25 mi. Lots of courteous mountain bikers passed by announcing their presence and the number remaining in their group.

right 0.35 mi on Sunset Trail #23 - Flagstaff
Pines thinned for this short 200 ft descent. Passed several runners throughout the day. Two chicks at the top of this trail got our attention minutes after passing. We realized how impressive their pace was considering they just topped out a 200 ft ascent.

left 3.55 mi for the entire Little Bear Trail #112
Dense pines returned. Then they thin before what looks like a monster descent. Views of NE Flagstaff are scenic, especially now with fields of yellow wildflowers.

I deemed this trail the "find" of the day 1.55 mi in, the next 3 miles slapped back hard. The monster descent joke was on us. This trail drops 1,118 feet in the subtle fashion. There was no quick drop. The grade is steady throughout. Most will enjoy, the dragged out switchbacks were just wearing on me.

Anyone that has hiked with me knows I can whine like no other. This slow down grade just wasn't pumping blood thus amplifying every ache along with lack of sleep. B & D absorbed more of my nonsense than any human should fall victim.

left 4.9 mi on Little Elden Trail #69
Bruce thought this would be a 500 ft ascent to Schultz Tank. It turned out to be a ridiculously subtle 350 ft. In all fairness these trails are designed for mountain bikers and ascending period was better than slow descending.

I mentioned earlier our friendly mountain bikers would give way to afternoon riders. Less announced their approach, none notified group number remaining and their speed was blazing at times. No issues, we're friendly aware hikers. Just pointing out morning nets better results in my experiences when hiking popular mountain bike areas.

continue 4.2 mi / -920 ft for the entire Schultz Creek Trail #152
This is a cool trail weaving next to the dry creek and nearby road. Pines provide shade throughout.

Bruce knew I needed an easy course. As much as it dragged out and amplified various pains the net result was monumental. After the hike my left fist which had been clenching for months is now sometimes at ease. I can move my fingers outward for the first time. Albeit ever so slow, this new hope is a lot to take in. Huge thanks to B & D for putting up with the world's biggest baby. They monitor me, the footing, among other tasks helping me sit, stand and the constant struggle with my pack.

One improvement on hydration was a success. I have an idea that should put pack stress to rest and we believe a little change in nutrition will make it easier too.

Substantial in areas with an excellent variety. Extreme fields of yellow looking down at NE Flagstaff.
Brookbank Trail #2
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Dry Lake Hills Loop
Up to the High country to enjoy the Temps.
53 degrees to start, mid 70's most of the day, hitting the low 80's in the exposed sections

Along the Rocky Ridge #153 trail there has been a lot of thinning going on. This trail roller coasters up to the Lower Oldham Trail, that we were on for just a stones throw.

Brookbank #2 climbs to the NW, affording good views of Mt Elden. Once you get up around peak 8747, the views open up to "The Peaks". On the Sunset #23 Trail for a snippet of time, we made our way over to the Little Bear #112.

This was my first time on Little Bear #112 and it had some big pluses and minuses. It goes through the old burn area, so you loose the trees. For me at the top, this was actually a plus. The views are huge as the trail follows on the side of the mountain. There of signs of reforestation, with scads of cone protected, 18" tall pine saplings planted everywhere. This trail drops almost 900', taking more than 3.5 miles, through exhausting switchbacks. I say exhausting, because the JBM was in full force once again.

The Little Elden Trail #69 / AZT, is a pleasant trail making its way up to Schultz Tank and the Sunset TH. We passed Thelma and Louise on Horseback.

The Schultz Creek #152 Trail is a gentle downward grade, in the pines, taking us back to the truck. We saw 5+ elk on the way down.

I couldn't count the number of mountain bikers we saw on this hike. They were out in full Fource...

The phrase that pays, two weeks in a row.
"What I meant to say was, Thanks"

Did we have a good time,
There's no Talon.

Substantial in pockets. there was a cornucopia of color.
Brookbank Trail #2
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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!
Brookbank Trail #2
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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
Brookbank Trail #2
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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.
Brookbank Trail #2
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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:
Brookbank Trail #2
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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. :)
Brookbank Trail #2
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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

Brookbank Trail #2
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Quick loop hike in the Dry Lake Hills. Drove up the Mount Elden Road and parked at the Sunset/Upper Oldham junction. I read that the road was closed at the Rocky Ridge Trail junction but there was no barricade so I just kept going up. Road conditions were really good. The highlight of this short hike was crossing paths with a large black bear off the Sunset Trail between the Heart and Little Bear junction. He crossed the trail not 75 yards in front of us and appeared he didn't even notice us (or we didn't cause any alarm in his/her mind). As we were watching, another hiker and his dog came up from behind us to join in on the viewing. As the bear went out of view we started to chat about the experience and how rare seeing a bear in this area must be, lucky us. The bear must have now heard us and circled back and popped it's head up over a fallen log to see what was going on, ears perked and its full attention directed at us. After elevating our voices the bear quickly darted away disappearing into the trees. Great hike!
Brookbank Trail #2
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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.

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Map Drive

To hike
Drive north from Flagstaff on US 180 to FR 420 (Schultz Pass Road). Drive east for 1 mile and, where FR 420 takes a hard left turn continue straight on FR 557 about 3 miles to the Brookbank trailhead.
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