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Old Caves Crater and Half Loop, AZ
mini location map2020-08-03
22 by photographer avatartibber
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Old Caves Crater and Half Loop, AZ 
Old Caves Crater and Half Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Aug 03 2020
tibber
Hiking3.66 Miles 626 AEG
Hiking3.66 Miles   2 Hrs   7 Mns   1.91 mph
626 ft AEG      12 Mns Break
 
1st trip
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bigfoot
desertgirl
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
Monday, This was the last hike of our cooler time in Flagstaff. After Ambika found a "sub" for her as she wasn't coming into work we headed out for the Silver Saddle TH. On the way I noticed a three mile back up for road construction on the other side of the road. Sadly, I would have to wade through that after our hike. I don't know how long they are planning that road work but beware of it on 89a coming west into Flagstaff on weekdays.

The guide for the Old Caves Crater hike is somewhat discouraging so I actually had to do a little convincing. I found an article online that I think discusses this trail a lot more accurately as it turns out. I sent it to Ambika and she agreed. The TH is not that big as is indicated so you can use the Landfill TH as an alternate. However, hiking up from that side (north) is a little steeper and narrower as we would see when we hiked down.

This trail from Silver Saddle is a delight. Nice and wide and the switchbacks are at a very leisurely grade. It's a well-maintained trail on this side. Before our ascent we saw a HUGE fallen tree that had been split down the middle; I assume by lightning. We headed up the hill via off and on shade. As you near what you think is the top, the trail contours alongside this part and then turns to the east and then up a bit before the trail comes to a bit of a junction. If you go right, you can see the caves.... I didn't realize that so we just stayed on the main trail which goes left (north) to the summit. And the reason we know we missed the caves is we visited with a hiker up there.

The 360 views are pretty amazing and it was a clear day so we could see SE all the way to the Rim. I think I filmed a 360 when I was on top. We took some pics before heading down the north side. This trail is more like a regular trail. It is a little steep and slippery so you have to hang on. We got to the bottom and took the circumference around to the right (clockwise). We saw a squirrel but he was a fast little guy so I just basically got the moooned shot. The ground once again changes to the lava dirt/sand as we made our way around. There are scattered houses just to the east of where you hike. We did have a horseback rider go by and would see a few more at the TH. I think there is a stable over here for public riding.

It did warm up by the time we got back to the junction of the summit and circumference trail. We saw about 1/2 dozen hikers. We grabbed some snacks and a beer from our vehicles and went under the shade of a ponderosa before going our separate ways. This hike would be a great work-out hike as you can vary it up. Anyway, it was fun to climb a crater; how often can you say you've done that :) . Here is my video: [ youtube video ]
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
_____________________
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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