Old Caves Crater

Flagstaff

Hike amongst ancient pinyon and juniper trees at the base of a former cinder cone volcano.

Hiking Moderate

Distance
5.4 km
Ascent
196 m
Descent
196 m
Duration
1-2 hrs
Low Point
2 km
High Point
2.2 km
Gradient
Old Caves Crater Map

Part of the greater-San Francisco volcanic field, the Old Caves Crater Trail wanders along the base of an ancient cinder cone volcano just moments north of Flagstaff. It's an excellent option to explore the region's unique geology, and the trail has something to offer for everyone. Unique to the area, it's a hike that can be enjoyed year-round and with the entire family, including the dog! You'll enjoy a few nice views of town and a diversity in plant life that will have you begging for more.

Description

There are a few ways to enjoy this hike, thanks to the Crater Loop Trail that circles the massif rather than summiting it. Seen here, you'll start by climbing to the top of Old Caves Crater at nearly 7,200-feet along its southern face. After exploring the peak, you'll descend the northern slopes face and return via the eastern half of the loop. Less forested than the western half, you'll explore hillsides covered in pinyon and juniper, as well as the occasional pine. Should you be looking for an easier hike overall, bypass the summit and instead follow the loop around the base of the crater.

There are two main trailheads for Old Caves Crater, one on Cinder Lake Landfill Road and another on Silver Saddle Road. This route is mapped from the latter. Neither restrooms nor drinking water is available at either, though you're just minutes from town if you need either.

Sources: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=55142

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Features

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

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area