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Slate Mountain Trail #128, AZ

no permit
229 39 2
Guide 39 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Flagstaff > Flagstaff NW
3.4 of 5 by 19
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,368 feet
Elevation Gain 850 feet
Accumulated Gain 862 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.81
Interest Peak
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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3  2019-04-14 CanyonWanderer
6  2017-07-15
Bill Williams Mountain Trail
8  2017-07-15 Tortoise_Hiker
16  2017-03-23 Stoic
4  2016-06-15 azbackpackr
9  2016-03-27 squatpuke
30  2015-09-06 Katzen4
7  2014-09-01 trekkin_gecko
Page 1,  2,  3
Author OlenWhitaker
author avatar Guides 2
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 14 map ( 87 miles )
Age 37 Male Gender
Location Ouray, CO
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, Sep, Oct → Any
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:11am - 6:32pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
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Named place Nearby
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Easy hike to great views
by OlenWhitaker

Likely In-Season!
This trail leads to one of the best views I've run into in Coconino National Forest, yet relatively few people seem to know it exists and fewer still think it's worth checking out. The Forest Service lists the use of this trail as 'moderate' but I have made this climb several times at different times of year and day and I have yet to see a single soul on the trail.

To reach the trailhead from Flagstaff, go North on US 180 for about thirty miles then turn left on FR 191. Follow 191 for two miles and you will come to the trailhead parking on your right. Note that FR 191 has a few spots where water collects that may render it impassable to cars at times; high clearance vehicles should have no problem. This sounds easy enough but finding the turnoff is a challenge if you are coming from Flagstaff as you cannot see the turn until you are almost upon it and there is no sign whatsoever. The easiest way to find it is to note your mileage as you pass the AZ Snowbowl turnoff; from the intersection of Snowbowl Rd. and 180 it is exactly twenty miles ( dlippy1 clarifies it's 18.9 miles ) to the FR 191 turnoff. If you reach the Red Mountain trailhead turnoff, you have gone several miles too far. It's much easier to find the turn when you're heading South as there is a sign and you can see the road from a much greater distance.

From the trailhead you will first skirt around a small drainage before beginning a series of gentle switchbacks that take you about halfway up the mountain. After that the trail swings all the way around a smaller East summit, crosses the saddle between this and the real summit and then makes a big clockwise spiral up the rest of the way to the top where you will find outcroppings of the slate from which the mountain gets its name. The summit is mostly clear of the Ponderosa pines that make up the bulk of the vegetation along the trail allowing for wide, unobstructed views of the San Francisco Peaks, Kendrick Mountain, the Painted Desert and everything North to the Grand Canyon which is plainly visible near the horizon. On a clear day you can see as far as Navajo Mountain in Utah. It is also an excellent place to watch the sun set and at night the clear dark skies allow you to see more stars than you ever thought existed. The trail is very easy; wide and smooth, it is possessed of a shallow, even grade throughout. As for route finding, you would have to try to get lost from this trail. Along the length of the trail are interpretive signs outlining some of the plant species found on the mountain. While I'll grant that this trail is not nearly as challenging or spectacular as Mt. Humphreys, it is still one of my favourites for great views without huge crowds--a rare combination for a location as easily reached as this. This hike makes a great one-two punch with the nearby Red Mountain Trail or as a stopoff on the way to or from the Grand Canyon. It might not be worth a special trip by itself, but there's a good enough payoff for very little time and effort to more than justify stopping if you're passing by.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2005-06-15 OlenWhitaker
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Coconino FS Details
Though this trail has a humble beginning at an old roadblock, it quickly reveals itself to be one of the Coconino National Forest's premier day hikes. Actually an old jeep track, now used solely as a foot trail, this 2.4 mile climb is a gradual but steady ascent along a wide gravel track to some of the best views on the forest. Interpretive signs along the way add a bit of educational interest by naming trailside species of trees and shrubs.

Near the top of the climb, the path spirals up the mountain's narrow summit like a stripe up a barber pole. The effect is as if you were riding past some of the Forest's most spectacular scenery on a huge lazy Susan. The San Francisco Peaks, Kendrick Mountain, Red Mountain, the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, you can see them all, just by turning your head, from the top of Slate Mountain.

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 14 deeper Triplog Reviews
Slate Mountain Trail #128
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We started our day with Slate Mountain because it was a short & relatively easy hike. The climb to the summit follows an old road so it’s easy going. It was a hot & sunny day and we were glad to be hiking in the morning. We topped out and took a short break. From there we flew back to the trailhead and really enjoyed the views. Only saw a handful of people on this hike so the solitude was nice.
Slate Mountain Trail #128
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after kendrick, drove north to slate mountain
this was a new one for me and it's a good one
easy grade, switchbacks and a complete circle around the mountain near the summit
good views of the peaks, kendrick, red mountain and i might have been able to see the north rim
saw maybe three other people
another classic and a peak :)
p.s. the directions could use one more clarification:
forest road 191 is between mile marker 242 and 243 and features a large sign
i'll post a photo of the sign later
Slate Mountain Trail #128
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This is an awesome little hike with some truly incredible views at the top — a real gem. The only precautionary notes are: 1. There is not much shade on this trail. I would avoid it on a really hot day. 2. As near as I can tell, FR191 is closed in the winter and reopens in the spring, after most of the snow melts. It is a MESS when it is wet. Best months to hike this trail are probably May, June and October.
Slate Mountain Trail #128
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Based on other triplogs, there seems to be quite a discrepancy of the true elevation gain. For me, I use Trimble Backpacker with GPS and it gave me an elevation gain of 1178, which seems to be very similar to a recent log but far different than others. Go figure.
Regardless, it was a beautiful clear day of 80 degrees and as most have previously mentioned, I was the only one on the trail. I did not see any wildlife today, though the cicadas were out in full force (no doubt because of the light rain we had here in Flagstaff yesterday). In all, it was a great hike on a Sunday afternoon, not overly challenging but the panoramic views were well worth the trip.
FR191 to the trailhead is passable with a car, but there are a few spots to be overly cautious around if you do not have high clearance. One note though - it was previously noted that the turnoff to FR191 is exactly 20 miles from Snowbowl Road. It is not. It is just under 18.9 miles, so if you go 20 miles you will be just about to Red Mountain. The best recommendation is to reset your trip right at Snowbowl Road, and when you hit 18.6 mile or so you should see a clearing ahead from the trees you have driven through. FR191 is immediately to the left at the end of the trees and at the beginning of the clearing. If you miss it, there is another FR about 1/4 up the road you can turn around.
Slate Mountain Trail #128
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Our second stop on the drive back to the valley was Slate Mountain. This was perfect for me at this point in my weekend. The grade is extremely moderate, following an old roadbed up to the top of the mountain. We were able to move pretty well and made it the 2.2 miles to the summit in under 45 minutes. Had it been steeper, I would have had trouble because I was getting pretty tired after my canyon hikes over the weekend.

It was a little bit warm in the sun, the first 100 degree day in the valley was awaiting us, but the breeze on the mountain was nice and refreshing. The view of the SF Peaks from here is great, and there was a surprising amount of snow on both the peaks and Kendrick.

With a deadline to get back home, we quickly headed back down the mountain and hit the road. Nobody else on the trail or even the road to the TH on this perfect Sunday in April. Strange.
Slate Mountain Trail #128
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2nd Hike of the Day. Knew I would have to do this one pretty quick, as I had spent alot of extra time on Red Butte and I didn't want to keep JJ waiting....

The Road in was pretty rough. Wouldn't want to do this in anything that was not High Clearance, again, thanks to JJ, I had the Jeep! :)

Got started up the Trail, the Description is dead on, on this Hike too. Nice, gradual, uphill climb the whole way, with neverending views. Lots of blooming Bushes lining the Trail as well. Although the Trail is gradual, it is still uphill, and I found myself pushing it pretty hard to get up and down in a good time. I made it up in an hour! I was pretty pleased with that.... :D Took about 20 minutes at the top doing the Photo thing and trying to find John through the binoculars.... :lol: It was pretty windy up top, but the views for miles around were awesome! :DANCE:

I took a little too long at the top and hauled a** down the Trail, trying to get back to the Jeep at my set time. I ended up stopping for a few, "just had to get" pictures on the way down. The Views of the San Francisco Peaks were really good.... :) Missed my time to the Jeep, I was 15 minutes later than I wanted to be, but I still made it down in 33...

This Trail was awesome! I really liked it! Gradual uphill, smooth, well groomed and maintained, awesome views, and just...don't know, just really enjoyed this one... :)

I had just started the Jeep when JJ texted and said he was done, (early again :sweat: ) so I did my best chumley imitation and made it over to pick up John in 17 minutes...FR 417 is probably the nicest, dirt superhighway that I have ever seen...Wow! :D

We headed back to the Valley after stopping for a bite in Flag. John, it was a pleasure to help you out with your Shuttles, I really had a great time, both with, and without you... :lol: I probably would never have done these 2 Hikes without the Shuttle excuse and I certainly would have missed out. Thanks for everything and feel free to provide me with more Hiking excuses... :D : app :
Slate Mountain Trail #128
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Hike two for the day... I had this as a "Filler" hike. It was in the proximity of Red Mountain, our first hike for the day, and on the way to our next stop in Williams.

I had fun with this hike. I tried to convince Joe that the rock we were seeing on the way up was Sandstone.... knowing that he'd come back and tell me it was Slate.

Early settlers assumed the rock scattered across this mountain was slate, so.... they named the peak Slate Mountain.

As it turned out, it wasn't slate at all, but a type of volcanic rock called rhyolite.

But, as the old name was well established and "Gray Rhyolite Mountain" doesn't have much oomph to it, the original name stood.

All that being said... This was another surprising hike. A nice steady grade getting to the top, the views were incredible. I love the mix of Conifer, Meadows, and Mountains.

If you are in the area... by all means check it out!

If you need more info on the hike, check out the article that came out in the Arizona Republic the day we hiked it...
Slate Mountain Trail #128
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Heading into the second leg of our trifecta I considered this the "filler". My expectations were rock bottom. Personally I had no desire to hike this trail yet figured it's so easy I'd just do it and get it over with...

This hike reminded me to keep my mind open. Good company, beautiful weather and a pretty dang good hike put this one down in my book as a total success!

Driving by this looks like a barren lump in a less than spectacular world. If you just go to the trailhead I think you will quickly see what this hike has to offer... some shady Ponderosa pines. The trail is an old jeep road. The grade is exceptionally forgiving all the way to the top.

Before you know it Kendrick views galore come into play. What started off as rock bottom expectations started spitting back. "oh I know where I'm at...", "that's...", "and that's...". One of the most powerful senses in my life has been knowledge. Bruce told me the hard polished brittle rock with sharp edges was sandstone. I couldn't help it, I went to town likely putting my ride back home in jeopardy. Apparently an angel was with me as I completed this hike without any sandstone trauma injuries.
Slate Mountain Trail #128
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Knowing I have my "hike 'til I drop" GNP trip coming up and not being able :( to workout except for ellipticals and treadmills, I found a couple little hikes to do. John added a bit of a climb on the last one and I'm glad he did altho it was the usual slow going for me on the way up. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Out of my two options (Flagstaff or Payson) John chose Slate Mtn and Red Mtn Trail. I decided we needed to do the mountain first as going up is always the hardest task :sweat: for me. Plus I thot we could get this out of the way so we could do some 'sploring and John could maybe do some climbing at Red Mtn :D . The weather was ominous as soon as we hit north of Flagstaff. And like most hiking folks, we would just hope :pray: the storms would miss us. We drove right past the turn off for 191 but turned around quickly. For future reference, the turn to the left from Flagstaff is a little ways after mile marker 242. The road in was full of lots of water-filled puddles but nothing unmanageable.

The description for this trail is quite accurate and it's a perfect "up we go" hike for me with gradual switchbacks before you hit the spiral on the north side and wrap yourself around to the top. There were some downed trees along the way but in this case, it was nothing to go over them. The views of the SF Peaks and Kendrick keep your attention as you get higher. There was also occasional flora like lupine and AZ thistle, and 2 prickly pear cactus with the pretty salmon blooms, penstemon, as well as a variety of bushes and trees, juniper, pine and aspen. We saw a little garter snake and the hawks were squawking as were a couple blue jays.

From the top you have great 360 views :) including toward the Grand Canyon. We had a snack here but didn't stay long as the weather was tenuous at best. On the way down we were treated to growling thunder and could see lightning strikes from time to time. I captured some of the thunder on the video Part 2. We did get caught in some of the rain but not bad.... until we had to hit the road.

The dirt road didn't look that bad but once I started driving, I got that flat tire feel and then I realized, MUD. It's the kind of mud :sk: I dreaded driving thru back on the farm. It's the sticky mud we would get on the roads between the fields. But like any kind of driving like this, you got to keep the speed up, steer into the slides and you'll be good. I kept thinking, I wish I had some metal fence posts (that's what we used to get us traction if we got hung up in a mud hole - it's kinna like those "keepers" you canyoneer folks speak of :lol: ).

Oh and then there were the cattle in the middle of the road. And like most cattle they just look at you not realizing they should moove out of the way :oplz: . So I rolled down the window and banged on the door and whooped a bit to get them to move. Mission accomplished without delay. Silly cows :M2C: .

Tonto was finally glad to get back to the highway. And when we got to the Red Mtn Trailhead, I could not believe the amount of mud stuck :o to Tonto. It was gooey :yuck: . Tonto would drop mud all the way to Phoenix and then drop a whole bunch more in the garage. The next morning I had to stop just outside my gate to scrape off the mud that was rubbing against the tires. When I came home after work my neighbor was washing her car and she asked if I would like to hose some of the mud off. Still in my work attire, I jumped at the chance before I put Tonto in the garage.

I do like this hike but you really need to do it with another hike to justify the drive from Phoenix. Here are a couple videos:
Video One (hike to the top):
Video Two (hike back to the TH from the top - listen for the thunder)
Slate Mountain Trail #128
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Great day for a solo people, no bad weather.

I'm surprised I haven't done this hike in the past 25 years I've lived here. I've done Red Mountain at least 3-4 times...and just drove right past this beauty. The interpretation signs for the trees/plants were a nice bonus.

Was my first hike with my new Oregon 450 GPS. I'm excited about hiking with it...seemed to work well, loved all the calculated stuff like avg. moving speed, etc; will post my GPX for the hike also. GPS listed the one way distance as 2.25 instead of signed 2.4 miles.

Saw lots of droppings, but no critters.

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
Location: 37 miles (about 45 minutes) north of Flagstaff between the Grand Canyon and the San Francisco Peaks.

Access: Drive 35 miles north of Flagstaff on US 180 to FR 191. Turn west 2 miles to the trailhead on the right side of the road. US 180 is paved. FR 191 is graveled and suitable for passenger cars in most weather.

Author Writes:
From Flagstaff take US 180 North for about thirty miles and turn left onto FR 191. Follow 191 for two miles and the trailhead parking will be on your right. NOTE: the FR 191 turnoff is hard to find when heading North, see above description for more details. ( between mile marker 242 and 243 and features a large sign )
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