Mount Elden Lookout Trail

Flagstaff

A classic hike in Flagstaff with breathtaking views and incredibly diverse plant life.

Hiking Difficult

Distance
8.4 km
Ascent
728 m
Descent
728 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
2.1 km
High Point
2.8 km
Gradient
14˚
Mount Elden Lookout Trail Map

Towering 2,300 feet above Flagstaff, Mount Elden is one of the classic day hikes near town to enjoy epic mountaintop views. What starts as an easy stroll from the trailhead quickly transitions into rocky, steep slopes and countless switchbacks that lead to the 9,300-foot summit. While technical, the path is well-traveled, easy to follow, and includes elaborate rockwork such as stairs through the steeper sections. It's described by some as a great opportunity to prepare for a trip to the Grand Canyon, and from the peak, you'll have views of Flagstaff, Oak Creek Canyon, and Mingus Mountain, as well views of the Mogollon Rim to the east.

Description

Based on the source, this hike includes everything from juniper, ponderosa, and pinyon pine at the lower elevations, to mixed conifers as you reach the higher elevations. According to the Forest Service, "you may be surprised to encounter a couple of different kinds of cactus in this high, cold environment where they seem to do very well." A series of transmission towers also sit atop the peak, though the former lookout tower is now closed to the public.

According to this source, the peak was named after John Elden, "an early settler who arrived in the area in 1875," just prior to the founding of Flagstaff. "In 1887, his son was shot and killed, apparently as part of a dispute over the use of water at a nearby spring," of which Elden Spring was named in his honor. His son's gravesite is not far from the spring, though the family ultimately relocated to California following the incident.

Best enjoyed as a summer morning hike to avoid afternoon storms, this hike begins at a trailhead off of Highway 89 across from the mall and next to the Ranger Station. There are no restrooms or drinking water, though there are plenty of opportunities nearby to get either.

Sources: https://www.grandcanyontrust.org/hikes/elden-lookout-trail https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=55140 https://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=217

Difficulty

Difficult

Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area