After spending a few days hiking, cycling, and walking along the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon, we headed to Flagstaff for a change of scenery and a change of pace. But after an afternoon of shopping and relaxing at more luxurious accommodations, we were ready for another challenge. When I realized that we could hike to the top of the mountain we could see from the hotel parking lot, I knew how we would be spending our last day of vacation.
I found information about the hike on the Forest Service website, and although I hesitated at the “strenuous” rating, I figured we always could turn back if it got too difficult.
This trail leads you up that staircase of petrified lava to the mountain’s summit 2,300 feet above Flagstaff. The route starts as a gradual climb along the shorter and less steep Fatman’s Loop but increases in gradient as the Lookout Trail strikes out on its own ascent to the mountain top.
After a hike-worthy breakfast, we filled our hydration packs with water (and Nuun for me), grabbed a few granola bars, and headed out.
Although we started our hike at about 8:30 am, it was much warmer than it had been at the Grand Canyon, and this hike was much steeper.
We didn’t stop for too many pictures, but every once in a while a shady spot coincided with a lovely view.
I enjoyed seeing the variety of wildflowers, which we hadn’t seen at the Grand Canyon.
We made it to the top and walked around the communication tower to see the San Francisco Peaks to the north.
Since there wasn’t much shade at the top of Mount Elden, we didn’t stay long before we made our way back down again.
Although my heart was working harder on the way up, going down took more concentration to find my footing and land carefully without aggravating my foot.
Can you see the texture of the volcanic rock in the background?
Although the elevation change wasn’t quite as dramatic as our Grand Canyon hike, considering that we reached the 2,300 foot summit in three miles (each way), it was plenty steep.
As we were hiking, I was imagining how good it would feel to cool off in the hotel pool, but by the time we’d showered and had lunch, a rain storm came through and dropped the temperature into the 70s–perfect for relaxing with a book, but not quite hot enough for a dip in the pool!
Do you think hiking up or down is harder?