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Elden Loop via Sandy Seep, AZ
mini location map2021-06-05
25 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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Elden Loop via Sandy Seep, AZ 
Elden Loop via Sandy Seep, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 05 2021
Hiking14.09 Miles 2,856 AEG
Hiking14.09 Miles   6 Hrs   56 Mns   2.59 mph
2,856 ft AEG   1 Hour   29 Mns Break
1st trip
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
We headed north to escape the heat this weekend...even Sedona had highs in the upper 90s, so we targeted a little higher elevation and planned a loop hike in Flagstaff. We decided to start at Sandy Seep Trailhead to avoid the crowds at Elden Lookout Trailhead, which was packed when we drove by on Highway 89. Sandy Seep was much quieter, with only a few vehicles in the lot when we started.

About a quarter mile into the hike, a very slowly crossed the trail in front of us. The pattern on the scales looked a little like a rattlesnake, but it didn't have a rattle...I'm not sure exactly what kind it was, but hopefully someone can identify it in the pictures :). Sandy Seep was a nice, easy warmup, just a very gradual incline. We went clockwise on the route, following Christmas Tree to a brief section of Farman's Loop, where we connected with Elden Lookout Trail. As expected, that was a very stretch up to the top.

The views kept getting better as we gained elevation, although it was a fairly urban view from that side of Elden, looking down on streets and businesses below. Still, a very pleasant stretch of trail, and a nice workout over the last mile and a half leading up through the aspens and switchbacks to the top. I took the quick detour on the side spur up to the lookout and got the first views of the day of the San Francisco Peaks...Humphreys had a few small patches of snow near the top.

From there, we continued north on Sunset, and the crowds thinned out considerably--we didn't see any other hikers along the rest of the loop, just a couple of mountain bikers before the intersection with Heart. The landscape along Sunset is a mix of charred trees and nice, green aspen/pine forests--it's interesting to see how some areas were spared from the wildfires while others were decimated...but still great views of the San Francisco Peaks and looking south into the valley below.

We connected with Heart Trail and started the slow descent down the mountain. As others have noted in recent trip logs, it seems like part of the trail had been re-routed. I had multiple tracks loaded on the GPS and could see alternate routes down the mountain, and the trails crossed in a few places, but we picked the most obvious one and stuck with that. The section along Heart Trail near Little Eldon Mountain was one of my favorites--we started to get farther away from the burned zone, and there as a lot of nice green color and beautiful rock outcroppings, with afternoon clouds casting shadows over the mountains.

The intersection with Little Elden Trail wasn't marked very well...or really at all. There was no sign, although we did see the broken remnants of a sign post, and it it looked like someone had set branches all over the early part to try to block it off. But we followed it anyway and circled back to Sandy Seep to complete the loop, passing a few final mountain bikers and horseback riders in the last mile. I'd passed by Elden Mountain on Highway 89 many times but had never hiked there, and the loop exceeded my expectations--a nice variety of scenery and level of difficulty on the trails. On the drive out after the hike, we made a quick stop at Elden Pueblo ruins [ triplog ] , which as a nice add at the end of the day...much more fun than the construction slowdowns on I-17 north of Phoenix :).
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