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Lenox Crater, AZ

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Guide 33 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Flagstaff > Flagstaff NE
2.8 of 5 by 11
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 1 mile
Trailhead Elevation 6,945 feet
Elevation Gain 300 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 2.5
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
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3  2018-10-13 MandaBearPig
4  2017-09-09 leonesiegel
45  2017-06-11 JasonCleghorn
5  2017-04-26 chumley
6  2016-12-30 ddgrunning
12  2016-08-07 hippiepunkpirate
1  2016-07-06 Tortoise_Hiker
9  2015-12-12 afrankie
Page 1,  2,  3
Author PaleoRob
author avatar Guides 137
Routes 111
Photos 5,253
Trips 942 map ( 2,097 miles )
Age 38 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Sep, Oct → Any
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:25pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
One foot up... two back
by PaleoRob

Likely In-Season!
Lenox Crater Trail, in Sunset Crater National Monument is a short trail that leads to the top of an extinct cinder cone-type volcano, named (surprise) Lenox Crater.

The hike is fairly straightforward - the parking lot for the trail is signed, and is also a pullout for the Bonito Flow in SCNM, along the main road. After crossing the road, the trail strikes out up the cinder cone. For those that have hiked cinder cones, like SP, before, the experience doesn't change much here. The trail is marked, but not improved over the native cinders. Its tough going for those not used to 7,000 feet or hiking on cinders. Looks can be decieving - the crater doesn't look that tall (and it isn't), but it can take up to 1/2 an hour to reach the summit, where an interperative sign discusses the view to the west of the Cinder Hills and the San Francisco Peaks. This probably isn't a good hike for those that have breathing troubles. I did this trail when I was 19, and it winded me by the top (but I wasn't as serious of a hiker either).

The view is pretty, and if you stop along the way to enjoy the pine forest and the breeze, it doesn't have to be a grueling experience. There is no water at the trailhead, but there is a faucet at the Visitor Center back down the road, and there may be water also at the Sunset Crater turnoff, just up the road from the trailhead (if they're done with all the work there). Because the trail is so steep and cindery, you shouldn't do this without water.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2006-04-13 PaleoRob
  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
    area related
    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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 Triplog Reviews
Lenox Crater
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Did the quick loop of A'a Trail across the street first, then the full loop of Lenox. The signage on site says 1.6 miles and approximate time 1.5 hours. I couldn't invent places to hike to get to 1.6 miles and I'd have to take a nap to make it take 1.5 hours! I also found the footing to be much better than expected. I don't know if the NPS has compacted the cinders or just use over time has improved them, but at no point did I slip/slide, or "two steps forward, one step back". It was as easy as you would expect any national park tourist trail to be. Good views too.
Lenox Crater
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For those that have followed my journeys in the past, you may or may not recall that I interned at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument back in 2011. I wrote a 5-year Sustainable Hiking Trails Management Plan, and helped design sustainable realignments/improvements of existing trails, as well new designs to expand the park's trail system. At the time, I thought it was unlikely that any of the plan's recommendations would be taken seriously. When my wife I and visited the park on a whim for a short afternoon hike, I was tickled to discover that the Lenox Crater Trail had been realigned into our recommended specifications, making for a better hiking experience, as well as better protecting the fragile volcanic environment. Also based on our plan's recommendations, we found that what used to be a short and rough but popular social trail has been improved to an actual trail (A'a Trail) and new trails were carved north of Lenox Crater: a connector to the Lava Flow Trailhead, and a short trail to a viewshed nearby (Bonito Vista Trail). We did not have time hike any of the other trails, but we were able to hike the new alignment of Lenox Crater Trail. It really turned out better than I imagined at time, in terms of enjoyment, and also the reduction of impact on the landscape. I'm so proud that work I did at this park has actually become something!
Lenox Crater
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~6" of white stuff up north, so had to get an adventure in. After entering the monument area, the scenery opened into a winter wonderland of ponderosas - totally awesome. We were the only ones exuberant (crazy) enough to hike today, so the trail was all ours. I hadn't decided on a hike when I arrived, so I hadn't uploaded the trail map into route scout, and service was long gone when I arrived. Good thing the trail was covered in snow ;). Actually, I was on the trail past the rim until about .25 remained and I just walked down the trail after I couldn't any longer discern a grade difference of the trail and the tree patterns didn't follow a trail.

It was brisk and windy, but the sun peaked on our way down. Fantastic but cloudy views of the San Franciscans and Sunset Crater. Surreal with the fresh powder that just finished falling.
Lenox Crater
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Up to the highpoint followed by a loop around the crater for a little acclimation. Probably could have done this without snowshoes, but where's the fun in that? Some areas looked like you'd posthole, while others, specifically under some trees, didn't have any snow at all.

I wish they would issue hiking permits for Sunset Crater when there's snow on it. Seems like that would prevent the erosional scars that you see on the south/southwest sides of the mountain. The snow-covered sides looked like a lot of fun.
Lenox Crater
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Did this hike on the fly, after setting up camp at the Bonita Camprgrounds. We had planned on camping at Lockett Meadow but by 9 am they were already posted full. So we were left to our own means of where to hike. After long discussion we just decided to see where our feet took us... the northeast end of the campgrounds had been calling our names so we just started walking. We followed the Bonita Lava flow east, not on it, if ever a trepid terrain there was, the lava flows it is. We walked along side, our feet crunching in the course to fine cinders, black and drawing the warmth of the sun. The landscape is surreal. After .75 miles or so we crossed a trail outlined by football sized lava stones, they headed south, but we chose to keep heading east. East that is until we found ourselves surrounded by the flow, just a short while later. So we headed back and took the marked route south.
Eventually the trail, following along side the lava flow always, hemmed in by Fire Rd. 545 heads east again flanked by the road on one side and the flows on the other. Disappearing as we approached the pullout/Lenox Crater Th. we followed the road a very short ways.
Wendi, was really the one who pushed us on to summit Lenox crater. It is a short hike but a huffer, bring any asthma medication required. We enjoyed the views. Then headed back.
By the time were back on our private trail again we were getting pretty warm. We found some shade under a pine tree, I noticed a strange phenomena where a rainbow was encircling the noonday sun, so I had to lay down in the cinders to properly view the rainbow. The cinders were surprisingly comfortable and I quickly fell asleep. Wendi, used to my abilities to fall asleep no matter the situation, found herself shockingly amused when I started snoring... in my defense we had been up since 4 am.
All in all it was a good day.
Lenox Crater
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With Harry de Bruyn visiting on business from the Netherlands. We used Flagstaff as our weekend "base camp" and allowed him to fulfill a lifetime dream of visiting the Grand Canyon.

We worked up a good sweat trekking up the steady incline to the top of the crater. Those cinders also made there way into my hiking boots! Continued to Lava Flow Trail, Bonito Lava Flow, Sunset Crater Vista, Painted Desert Vista, and Wupatki Ruins.

Once again that National Parks Annual Pass came in handy as we explored what seemed like a scene right out of Jurassic Park (sans dinosaurs of course)...
Lenox Crater
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Took the loop drive stopping along the way to visit the many mini-hikes. My National Parks Annual Pass came in handy again. Stopped at Lenox Crater, Sunset Crater, Strawberry Crater, and multiple ruins at Waputki National Monument. Day started off below freezing and was gorgeous by mid-day.

Permit $$
no fees or permits reported

if incorrect tell us about it

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
$5 each - valid for 7 days Entrance Fees

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From Flagstaff, take U.S 89 north for 12 miles (19km), turn right on the Sunset Crater - Wupatki Loop road and continue 2 miles (3km) to the visitor center. The trailhead is located apx. 3 (4km) miles further down the road, before the Sunset Crater/Lava Flow Trail turnoff.
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