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Sandy Seep Trail #129, AZ

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Guide 42 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Flagstaff > Flagstaff NE
2.6 of 5 by 13
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 1.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,875 feet
Elevation Gain 350 feet
Accumulated Gain 359 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 2.7
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
4  2019-09-02 fricknaley
3  2018-07-14 mt98dew
5  2018-04-23 azbackpackr
2  2016-05-08 friendofThunderg
110  2014-08-30
Mount Elden - AZT #32
78  2014-08-30
Mount Elden - AZT #32
58  2013-08-10
Elden Loop
15  2010-09-24
Mount Elden - AZT #32
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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
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:10am - 6:31pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Oh Sandy
by HAZ_Hikebot

Likely In-Season!
The Sandy Seep area on the eastern slopes of Mt. Elden is an important winter range for mule deer as well as a valuable recreation resource for the Flagstaff area. The trail that provides access to it follows an old jeep track that meanders through the open grasslands dotted with ponderosa pines, Gambel oaks and clumps of cliff rose.

To ensure that the area's recreational use does not impair its value as wildlife habitat, the Forest has closed the area to entry by motor vehicles. If you come under your own power or aboard a friendly saddle horse, however, you're welcome to enjoy the excellent views the area provides of Mt. Elden and the Sunset Volcano Field. And you'll stand a good chance of seeing some of the area's resident mule deer as they fade into the background.

As you hike you'll notice that Mt. Elden is covered with dead trees killed by a disastrous fire in 1977. Climbing higher you'll see evidence of the fire closer at hand including numbers of burned out snags as well as the remains of old fire breaks plowed into the landscape. Near the end of the trail you'll be hiking on land that was actually burned over by the fire. Here you can get a close look at how the area is naturally regenerating. Pioneer sprouts of oak at lower elevations and aspen higher up carpet the slopes. These lush green saplings provide nourishing browse for the area's deer herd and are creating a display of fall colors that becomes more magnificent every year.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2008-06-11 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 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
Sandy Seep Trail #129
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Well, here's a fraction of AZT #32 completed! At this rate it'll take me about 4 or 5 dayhikes to finish one passage! It was a nice hike, some of it new to me, as I had previously always turned up the Heart Trail.

I took the short side trail to see Little Elden Spring. Yuck! Well, at least there is water, but it's a skanky pool. Below it, on the other side of a boulder is a slightly better-looking small pool.

Further along, I came to some aspens and firs. I decided to turn around at the junction for the horse camp. I can go back later, start at that junction and hike the part that ends at Shultz Tank.

Sandy Seep Trail #129
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Mount Elden Loop
Been too long since a good AZ hike! So, when the opportunity to stay with a few friends at a cabin just south of Flagstaff came up, J & I jumped on it. We had been thinking of doing Humphrey's, but with lots of snow visible, and no recent triplogs, we decided to stick to lower elevations and break in a new pair of boots for J. We eventually figured out a loop possibility that would give us a mid-length hike for the day: hang near ground level around Elden, take Heart trail to the ridge to avoid some of the crowds, then take the steep + quick Lookout Trail back to the parking lot. All of these were new trails for us.

Before the hike, we tried to track down a map to take with us in case plans varied en route. After a quick stop in Flag, we were back to the trailhead for Fatman's Loop and ready to ascend. We packed a fair bit of cold weather gear (a couple of coats, hats, and lots of layers), which would ultimately prove unnecessary.

The initial hike out the eastern branch of Fatman's was quite straightforward, without too much of a climb to worry about at all. In fact, the full stretch to the base of Heart Trail went quite quickly, with a short snack break before we started that ascent.

Heart Trail was great. It was a nice, steady climb up to the top, never feeling steep or slow, and offering great views out to the east. Mid way up we spotted some relatively recent scat and prints suggesting that a bear may have enjoyed the trail too! The breeziest part of the hike was right at the top of Heart, where we layered up a little before snacking on some bagels and peanut butter.

From there, the ridge progressed quickly... wish this part was longer, because it offered great views, a lovely trail, and good breaks between forested shelter and open meadows. We met up with the summit trail, where we chatted with another HikeAZer about European and US hiking options. The two of them decided to reverse our route on their downward return. We made the summit and had another snack and rest break.

Given we wanted to do a few other things with the afternoon, we turned down the Lookout Trail towards the parking lot. The Lookout Trail was steep but predictable, and quite a bit busier than any of the other trails we had visited during the day. Fatman's Loop felt long back to the parking lot. We took a quick trip to show J Walnut Canyon, then headed up towards the inner basin to scope out future hiking and camping options.

All told, this was a really excellent loop that we'd highly recommend to others. It was about 9 miles all told, with likely a bit above 2,500 VF cumulative elevation gain. Lovely 5 hours out at a relaxing pace (about an hour of rest breaks along the way).

Most of the leaves have already fallen, but a pretty hike nonetheless.
Sandy Seep Trail #129
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On our drive up we observed the results of the New River flooding. Certainly devastating with washes and the creek bed scoured and widened. It was dramatic! Oh, and we hit traffic delays coming and going on I-17.

Another double AZT weekend starting out with Segment 32 from Schultz to the I-40 and then Segment 31 from Sandy to I-40. The nite before we (Ambika and me) drove around FR 301 the nite before trying to find a camp spot and discovering there is NO CAMPING here :( . In the dark we met up with Tracy and Shawn at Country Club Dr and headed to dispersed camping off of Old Walnut Canyon Rd. Shawn found us a nice spot on the second try. Kathy and Karl joined us a little while later. They all slept in their vehicles, I practiced my tent camping ;)

We took Karl and Kathy's vehicle to Schultz TH and they took Ambika's to I-40 TH. We parked next to a vehicle with Montana plates. They were from Helena and were heading up to Fremont. One of the fellows knew of Bob as I had mentioned HIKEARIZONA.COM and he said, tell BobP "Geronimo".

It was a nice morning as we headed off (9:00) past Schultz Tank and into the forest. There would be lots of wildflowers on this trek and they started right away. We hit Mullein Alley and were amazed at their height. The Little Elden Trail was recently opened and it looked like they did a great job with renovating this trail. We continued winding our way around the north side of Little Elden where you could see a lot of the burn area. To its north on another mountainside you could see the additional burn area quite clearly. But as we got to the northeast side, you could see the area that wasn't burned.

Along the eastside we came across this most incredible area that was covered in wildflowers, in particular, brilliant orange paintbrush. It was like a mini-Glacier Park floral display. It was really quite something :y: . Enroute to the south side of Little Elden, we climbed a bit of a hill, saw some deer in the distance, noticed the large cliff rose bushes and trees against the back drop of Little Elden's cliff face before arriving at our break (11:11) in what I call the Elden Valley. The Valley was lush as well with the beautiful green grasses and smatterings of wildflowers.

We reached the intersection with the Heart (a fun but take your breath away trail up to the Elden ridgeline - Ambika and I did that last year) and then with Sandy Seep 11:35 (a trail we also did last year). Once again this Sandy Seep trail delivered in the wildflower department though different this time. Along the way we also saw a bunch of acorn woodpeckers chasing a squirrel :o from apparently THEIR tree. They all made quite a ruckus as the squirrel ran over to the tree next door. It was very entertaining once we figured out what was going on.

We didn't know when we would encounter K&K coming up from the south. It ended up being around noon so we found a large shade tree to sit under. We talked about what they had hiked and told them the best part of their hike was yet to come. We only lunched for about 20 minutes as we still had 8 miles to go I think, they only had 6. It was fun though.

We enjoyed our views of Mount Elden and some of the sunflowers along the way as we headed toward the 89 tunnel. I kept expecting the trail to take us down to the light to cross but we paralleled the highway until we hung a left and headed into the tunnel (12:45). Somewhere later from here we apparently entered Picture Canyon and were on some sort of City Loop for this portion of the hike. We were already looking forward to our next little break at Rio de Flag (1:30); altho we ended up breaking longer just because the area was so cool with the creek and all. Tracy experimented with her new waterproof camera (they are all going on a GC rafting trip toward the end of the month; and leaving me behind :( ).

We continued thru Picture Canyon and past the quarry area which was kind of interesting. There was some equipment there including what looked to be conveyor belt thingies. Along the way toward the NE was an incredible field of yellow flowers that really stood out. We reached a road around 2 and walked it just a bit before going thru a most interesting gate into a very colorful area with flowers and rocks and deceased trees.

As you round a couple corners there is this incredible field of flowers spread out before you. It was such a surprise. I do think it's planted. Here Ambika and I looked back to capture the field with the mountains. Ambika got a really good picture here. We took our time walking thru this. I hope my movies will do it justice. And then you come back into the forest area that sits above a meadow that had a gazillion sunflowers just on this side of the tracks.

Around 3 I requested a 5 minute break in the next shade. Well Tracy picked a great spot as we had a nice view of the tracks and got to see 2 or 3 trains pass. However, it must have been on a curve as wow was it screechy at times as the train rolled by. I don't know, there's just something 8) about watching trains... Our 5 minutes turned into 20.

It was time now to finish off this last bit. We were toodling along pretty good observing some of the trash along the way and of course the view to the distant very red mountain to the east. Shawn all of a sudden decided we were off trail and as we headed back the way we had come, he said it would be shorter to cross country and would we be ok with that? No one even hesitated. So we crossed over to the correct route based on Shawn's GPS track. I didn't load the track on ScoutII this time but next time I will as a back up.

We walked on the road next to the track for awhile until we got to Tip Tank (4:05) and saw the sign for the Trail, in retrospect the Trail we should have stayed on :doh: . This trail had been re-routed from the old track Shawn had. Well now we know and now you know. If you're hiking it north, it wouldn't be a problem at all. Getting weary now, we know we should have about a mile left. We pressed on and eventually reached the tunnels of the I-40. We were lucky that a train was just rounding the corner and heading our way. I got some good pics and video. I wanted to cross under so I could see how loud it was as the train went over; but it wasn't very loud at all.

As we made our way to the next tunnel I could hear a big rumble which probably meant another train. I turned and by gosh, here comes a train from the west. So we got to watch two trains passing over the underpass. Finally we go under the frontage road to Ambika's vehicle (4:34). (refurbished ScoutII, or should it be Scout the Third now?, is only off by .15 miles or so now in the last three hikes). After a beverage we headed to Country Club Dr to pick up some ice and then headed back to camp where Kathy made some delish Chicken Nachos, Ambika prepared a mighty fine Italian dinner and Tracy put together a great salad with some really garlicy (?) toasted bread. :y: .

The night before you could hear the trains but tonite, no trains; just the wind that woke me around 2AM. In the later AM it was the crying baby and the cattle and the vehicle noise of someone driving around at 5:30AM. SHEESH! But at least it was warmer.

PS Oh, I have lots of video of course and they're actually ready to go. Just need to finish uploading to youtube. My computer was not cooperating last nite so there is a delay.
September 11, 2014 here are the videos:
[ youtube video ] to below Little Elden
[ youtube video ] to just past 89 underpass
[ youtube video ] into the field of flowers
[ youtube video ] finishing off the trail including watching the trains
Sandy Seep Trail #129
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Sandy Seep Trail :next: Weatherford Trail :next: Humphreys Peak :next: return same way

Elevation hit me pretty hard. Had to take many breaks on the way up, after 10K ft. Weather was decent, warm but breezy on the summit. Buggy on the summit but not elsewhere. Had to walk through a bit of lingering snow below Agassiz.
Sandy Seep Trail #129
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Elden Loop
for my HAZfest hike I had planned on being on my own to do Elden #4 but when Ambika said she'd join me for a hike, I found something longer and hopefully more fun but just as hard. I had been reading the Elden #4 trip reports and stumbled across johnr1's report that looked interesting. So in about an hour or so, I did a bunch of preliminary Rx mostly to confirm I could do the Loop :) and it wasn't going to be THAT hard. Another hiker that thot about joining us caused me to have a backup plan as she isn't that strong a hiker, it would have been an up and down on Sunset Trail.

From HAZ camp I drove over to the Sandy Seep TH to meet Ambika. I think we got started a little after 9:15. My legs definitely weren't feeling it the first two miles :cry: but fortunately, that situation would change and I would get a nice rhythm going. The SANDY SEEP TRAIL is a nice trail as it starts out. Once it narrows, it has ruts in spots so you have to maneuver around them. You do get views of the mountains around you :) so that is kind of nice.

You gradually go up 350 feet or so to the junctions with the second junction being the Heart Trail. Thru this area, you can really see the damage from the rain. The HEART TRAIL climbs ever so slightly at first and because of the recent rains, once again you have to work around some of the ruts. Part way up I was having a toe issue which I was able to repair at about the 1/2 way up point. From there, the switchbacks began in earnest which was fine with me. There were a couple steep ones but for the most part, "very doable" especially as the views changed :DANCE: . The only thing I wish for when going straight up is for a less rocky trail tho I guess it really wasn't that bad.

Always in the back of my head is only 1400 feet in two miles. It was fun to guess where the trail was going to take you. There were a couple hikers ahead of us so sometimes we got hints. Basically you switchback one mountain only to find yourself on another and then up to the Sunset Trail. The weather had been somewhat threatening at this point. We were armed with umbrellas and ponchos, it would be only the lightning :scared: that would make us nervous. At the junction with Sunset and Heart, we took a break in the shelter of the boulders and the forest.

I did encounter a biker who said the trail had become quite slippery after the rain and in fact, we would see another biker's bike slip off the trail as we made our way up. This part of the SUNSET TRAIL is rather fun as you are somewhat on a ridgeline that you cross over from the east side. Soon you can see Agassiz and part of that mountain range off to the north. And even better, once you get to the now mostly treeless top of the ridgeline, it seems the whole world opens up for you to see :y: . We also got to enjoy the flora of the season and the dancing of the clouds in various directions. It was hard to leave this area that was also quite windy.

We headed off toward the tower and discussed whether to go up the hill or not as the Sunset Trail wraps around the north side of the tower hill. We decided to head up the tower hill and around to the other side where there is the other trail junction to Elden #4. Ambika decided we would take a break at the Elden Saddle which was not too far away. However, getting there involved rather large step downs and certainly hardly a level piece of trail. I knew right away this ELDEN TRAIL #4 was going to be evil :x . We were about half-way through our hike.

It was windy and a little nippy as we finally got down to the saddle where we had our lunch. We would run into several hikers coming and going at this point and for the rest of the trail down to Xmas Tree. Reluctantly, we prepared to head on down the trail. This trail gives you little breathing time where you can hike on a level turf. You really have to pay attention : rambo : cuz it also gets slippery in certain sections. It's not the best trail to stop and take pics either as you end up with the city and/or Flagstaff Mall in the background. Plus, it seems like we'll never get to the next trail at this pace if you could call it a pace.

Finally we hit the junction with FATMANS LOOP TRAIL and almost immediately, you feel like you're walking on air in an upright position able to breathe normally once again. :A1: Oh this is a fun little trail with plenty of entertainment; especially with all the boulders and such. It's definitely a trail I won't mind doing again. We were only doing about 3/4 of a mile to reach our junction.

We had one last snack and sit down before finishing off the last 3 miles. The CHRISTMAS TREE TRAIL starts a little close to the road for awhile but soon veers away and you get to enjoy the solitude of your environment. It was a pleasant enough 1 1/2 miles but it seems when there is at least another 1/2 to go, you really stretch your eyes looking for the junction with Seeping Sandy. There were a few interesting things along the way but I was pretty much in "Tibber back to the barn" mode :wlift: .

Once you reach the junction with SANDY SEEP TRAIL it's a bit of a relief as there is only 1 mile and 1/2 to go. You walk and cross the messed up drainage before getting on the decent trail that had some ruts from time to time. Along the way, I did spot a couple deer in the soft glowing grass. They spotted me too quickly though and seemed jittery so I didn't grab my camera. Instead I waited for Ambika to catch up to me hoping she would get a chance to at least see them but just barely before they headed into the forest.

Before you know it, you're on the nice wide trail enjoying the sun setting on the grassy floor. It seemed the TH came up much faster than I anticipated but that is not a bad thing. I took my gear off and drove Tonto over to where Ambika was. We shared some watermelon Kat (Snakemarks) had given me that morning. Watermelon always seems to hit the spot :) . Ambika and I parted ways and once again, I was stuck eating at McDonalds as it was late but I did make it back to Camp Chumley just before dark.

Two videos from the hike:
1 Seeping Sandy and Heart and Sunset -
2 Elden #4 and Fatmans Loop -

Vetch, Lupine
Sandy Seep Trail #129
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This loop is longer than I had heard. Started at Sandy Seep TH. Hiked Sandy Seep to Christmas Tree, to first Fat Mans turnoff, to Elden turnoff, to Elden Lookout, then back to Sunset, along Sunset (the ridge) to Heart, down Heart to Sandy Seep. It was hot today and it beat me up pretty good, seeing as I mostly have been river rafting the past 3 weeks.

Glad I did it, though. I especially liked the Lilliputian aspen forest in the old burn after turning onto the Sunset Trail. It was brimming with lupines.
Sandy Seep Trail #129
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I parked at the Sandy Seep TH and took the Sandy Seep to the Heart trail then to Sunset trail. The views were great on the Sunset trail. I headed north towards Schultz tank. By the Little Bear intersection there were a bunch of forest crews cleaning up their chainsaws. It looked they were getting ready to do some trail maintenance. There was on a sign on the Little Bear trail post saying that it was closed until 8/31 for trail cleanup.

I got down to the Schulz's Pass TH and took the new AZT section. This section of the AZT is more or less flat without any rocks, trees or roots. It's very popular with the mountain bikers. It started to rain. It was a slow rain that felt good. The trail never got sticky or slick. After 7.5 miles from Schultz's TH, the AZT crosses Snow Bowl road. Now the AZT starts to climb up and up. There's a quarter mile section here that's been flagged, but not cut. After I got past that, there was a post stating that the trail was under construction and it was a dead end! I made it to the Aspen Loop and headed toward the Kachina trail and took lunch. I'm not a fan of the Kachina trail with all the rocks and roots and especially with it being wet. I saw hiker driving out and had an idea. I asked him for a ride down Snow bowl road to where the AZT crosses it. The AZT trail is a bit longer than the Kachina, but it's pretty flat and open and I knew I could sustain a faster pace on it. Now the rain stopped and the sun came out.

I subtracted the 5.1 miles from my trip log. I zipped back to Schultz's pass and then to the Sandy Seep TH. On the way back the wind started to blow and the temps dropped.
Sandy Seep Trail #129
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My first exploration of this area to check out the Sandy Seep to Heart Trail. I didn't have time to do the whole thing, just wanted to see it. Saw 15 deer on the way back when it was pretty dark. Almost full moon. I like the area better than Elden/Fat Man's. Very few people, almost as close to work.
Sandy Seep Trail #129
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Our quest to complete the Arizona Trail took the clan up to Passage 32, The Mt Elden portion starting at I40 and finishing at the Sunset TH on Shultz Pass.
I noticed the thermometer in my truck signaled "Ice" at 35 degrees at the north TH to pick up Dave, so I was ready for it to be cold. It was the warmest 35 degrees I've ever felt. By the time we got down to the I-40 starting point, temps were in the high 40's and it was perfect for shorts and short sleeves.

Joe and Denny have already covered most of the description of this hike, but I'd like to add the phrase "Pleasantly surprised". Nothing to exciting, but pretty country none the less.

Here's the videographers compilation for the day, including his new hit song that will surely me moving up the charts.

Three areas to watch out for in navigating.
- First, the area by Tip Tank is confusingly marked. Go up the hill, do not follow the dirt road. They end up at the same place though.

- Second, Once you cross the bridge at Rio de Flag, follow the markers to the left. I think it switchbacks up a slight hill. The marked trail that goes straight off the bridge also gets you to the same place. In this area it appears the passage has been routed off roads and on to trails.

- Third, when you approach Shultz Tank from the east, marked AZT takes you North to the Weatherford TH. Take the fork to the left to get to Shultz Pass - Sunset TH.

Another great day with the cast of social misfits.

9 passages and 176 miles down.
Sandy Seep Trail #129
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I wanted to knock section 32 of the AZT, but the mileage/time was a little too high to do as a single day hike. This segment is 14 miles one way and an out and back would be 28 miles. I parked at the Sandy Seep TH and decided to hike down to I-40 and back. Then see how far north I could go before the needed to head back.

Going south on segment 32 was not the most exciting hike. By the time you lose the highway 89 noise, you start to pick up train & I-40 noise. The trail was wide and well defined. The scenery was nice, but the noise pollution detracted from the hike. I did go through fields of sunflowers. I had to go under 4 underpasses/tunnels to reach the end of segment 31. I noticed that my moving pace was about 3.5 MPH. I started the calculations in my head. If I was fast enough, I just 'might' have a shot at finishing this hike in a timely fashion. I kicked up my pace a notch on the way back to the Sandy Seep TH.

I got north of the Sandy Seep TH and figured that I have a little more than 3 hours to return to the Jeep. The trail was more of a mountain biking trail. It was super wide and without any obstacles. After the Little MT Eldon Spring Horse camp trail intersection, the trail showed evidence of the recent fire(s). There was deep ruts that would make mountain biking very difficult or impossible and the trail was a getting a loose feeling to it. I hit the turnaround time and noticed that I was just about a mile from the Schultz Pass TH. I decided to make a run at it. As I got closer to the northern TH, the trail started to go over narrow hills and it slowed me down. I started to see more people on their bikes now. I overshot the turnoff for Shultz's TH and wound up at the Sunset TH. I studied the map there for a couple of minutes and figured out a loop back that would shave some time from the return trip. I saw that FR556 followed the trail for a couple of miles before it veered off. FR556 was locked to motorized traffic. I took FR556 to the Little MT Eldon Spring Horse camp trail and then back to the AZT. FR556 was a little longer, but I was able to go a lot faster and make up time. I bypassed the loose footing on the hills and the deep ruts. I got back to the Sandy Seep TH by 6:15. I was 40 minutes later that I had planned on.

The weather during the day was perfect. The sun gave away to clouds by the afternoon and there was a constant cool breeze blowing for most of the day. This was the most miles I've done in a day. I want to return and checkout some of the spur trails I seen along the way.

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
Location: On the east side of Flagstaff, within the city limits.

Access: Drive east through Flagstaff on US 89A (Santa Fe Avenue). One half mile beyond the Townsend/Winona Road intersection a short Forest Road (FR 9139) turns west off the highway to the trailhead.
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