Sunset Trail

One of my favorite hikes in Flagstaff. I do believe this was the first hike that Dee and I did as a kickstart to our training for the Colorado Trail last year. This trail meets up with the Heart Trail that I did a few weeks ago. It also takes you the back way to the top of Mt. Elden, which I blogged about in my Fat Mans Loop post . I love how many trails in Flagstaff intersect. This allows a tremendous amount of options for hiking plans.

You can imagine how excited I was to see the warning of bears sighted on this trail! I’ve been anxious to get another chance to use my bear whisperer skill! 

This trail starts off in a heavily treed area before opening into a meadow.

It’s a very popular trail for mountain biking. Most bikers use a bell to let you know they are coming. When they are coming downhill their speeds and rock jumping abilities are impressive! I’ve found myself on more than one occasion shouting ” Be careful”  as they fly by me. Must be the mother instinct in me. A ” don’t worry about me” grin is the usual response I get in return. 

As you climb out of the meadow you are greeted by great views and a breeze that is almost chilly.
From this point you enter the “catwalk” that takes you up to the Mt. Eldens lookout tower.

As you can see there still is a lot of forest recovery needed after the big fire roared through this area.Speaking of fires, you can see the smoke in the distance that was started by a campfire during Memorial weekend . Thankfully it was quickly contained.

A quick stop on Signal hill for a lunch break. This is the only spot in Flagstaff that my phone gets a full 5 bar signal!! Signal hill is just below the Elden Towers.
This hike is rated moderate. I believe the round trip mileage is 9.7. I’m still trying to figure out how to use my new Garmen Fenix watch! It is capable of so many cool things, but somehow I’m still just trying to learn how to set my location and find the start button! I’m wondering if it can track bears?! I was disappointed not to see any on this trip.

Until next hike!

K

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Mount Elden

Mt. Elden is a very popular hike in Flagstaff.  You have the options of a 45 minute loop trail, or a short trek to access the Buffalo Park trails, or the complete grunt up to the top to the lookout tower – where you’ll gain 3,000 ft of elevation in under 3 miles.


The trail is rocky and steep but the views are great and all the moisture this winter and spring brought pretty blooms.


One of the highlights is the unique boulders that are scattered through a section of the loop, affectionately named Fat Man’s Loop.


Wildlife such as deer, snakes, lizards, and the occasional mountain lion like to hang out here.


I love to photograph the trees on this mountain. Between the alligator juniper, Ponderosa Pines, and Aspens the colors, shapes, ages, and stages are an always changing wonder to observe.

As I mentioned in a previous post, this hike is the best training hike in Flagstaff. Many prepare for hiking the Grand Canyon here. Firefighters can be seen running this trail with full gear as part of their fitness routine . You’ll see people sitting beside the trail trying to catch their breath, red-faced, and feeling defeated. Even the tower watchmen who climb this mountain frequently declare this hike never gets easier but it does start to feel shorter after a few months.

The loop is the most popular choice, and for the most part anyone can do this with just moderate effort . But to climb to the top I’d advise you to be acclimated to the elevation of Flagstaff (7,000 ft), bring lots of water, a few salty snacks, and keep a slow steady pace.

Catching My Breath

I have to admit, I really enjoyed reading Karen’s recent post, Snow Hiking. You know, the one about where’s she’s been and what she’s been up to these past few months? And how about her artwork? Seriously, who knew she had such talent?! Definitely not me, but I’ve totally enjoyed seeing her creations.

Just reading her post made me start thinking about my own absence from our blog and why I’ve stepped down for so long. Perhaps it’s just personal therapy, but I feel compelled to write my own account of ‘Where’s Waldo” (or is it Walda?). Maybe some will identify with me and reply with their own experiences. And maybe not. But really, the next few paragraphs are mostly for me, so sit back and enjoy the ride.

First and foremost, I haven’t been doing nothing. I’ve at least been hiking multiple times, cross-country skiing once, and an awesome day of down-hill skiing. And, with the exception of down-hill skiing, I even have a collage of pictures to prove it.

And when the snow dumped and dumped for days, with no relief in sight… we threw down our shovels, kicked it into 4WD, and headed for the middle of nowhere!

Cuz nothing beats FIRST TRACKS!

 

And I’ve been traveling.

A Lot.

Florida, Wisconsin, Washington, Nevada, and more visits to Phoenix than I care to count. 

 

Then there’s that lengthy period of soul-searching, in which I found myself immersed again and again. Not because I’m trying to find myself, mind you. That would be selfseeking, not soul-searching, right? And most of the time I’d be better off to lose myself, as the overwhelming presence of me is usually what is wrong with my life. But don’t worry, I won’t get heavy on you. Suffice it to say, I’ve been reassessing my direction in life. A course-correction, you might call it. A much-needed, and on-going one, at that.

All things considered, it’s been an awesome eight months. And I’m glad to be back!

Happy Trails!
Dee 

Our First Adventure

SUNSET TRAIL, MT ELDEN, FLAGSTAFF AZ
TRAINING HIKE
ROUND TRIP: 7 MI
ELEVATION GAIN: 1100 FT

Sunset Trail

Our first training hike together! And we couldn’t have picked a better day. The forecast called for rain, which made for really great cloud cover and cool conditions the entire hike. Not that one would necessarily need that, as a good part of the area along the trail consists of a dense alpine forest that does a pretty good job in itself of providing a nice overhead canopy and shelter from the sun.

In fact, the entire area is packed with an assortment of trees and other vegetation (you might even run into a cactus or two… but let’s hope not), not to mention a diverse population of wildlife (of which we saw neither hide nor hair, unless you count three little horny toads); making it one of the most popular and widely used areas in Flagstaff. And not just for hikers, but bikers and equestrians as well.

[As a side note: The trail on the opposite side of this mountain resembles something akin to high desert. A disparity that I always find curiously strange, although this type of oddity is really not so unusual in Arizona.]

The trail begins its gradual ascent practically from the start (elev. 8000 feet), and becomes increasingly more vertical over the next 4 miles, where it ultimately summits at the U.S. Forest Service Lookout Tower atop Mt Elden. At 2300 feet above Flagstaff (elev. 9287 feet), the view is breathtakingly beautiful. And when the tower is open to visitors you can freely venture up to get an even wider range of viewing above the treetops; you might even learn a few interesting tidbits about the area from the resident FS Ranger.

Note: For those of you thrill-seekers out there, if you’re lucky enough to be granted admission to the tower on a windy day, your appetite for adventure will quickly be satisfied when you experience the vertigo-inducing sway of the tower beneath your feet. The higher you go, the better it gets!

Overall, this trail makes for a great time and can be enjoyed by experienced hikers of any skill level. As for the rain, we managed to make it to the very end without a single drop. Then, once back inside our car, the skies opened up to deliver their liquid gold as promised. 🙂

Happy Trails!
Dee