This was a great warm up hike to get the lungs adjusted to the altitude and breathe in some dry Northern Arizona air. The trail surface was sand and pea gravel most of the way and hard pumice stone at the top. Gradual switchbacks made the climb tolerable for 48-year old knees and sea-level lungs. In terms of views, you get a lot for the effort expended. At the top, there is a short offshoot trail to the southwest - follow it out for great views, and then explore the ground to find several underground caves (none of which I was brave enough to explore!)
The small parking lot is super easy to find on Silver Saddle Road off Hwy 89, and could have easily held 10-12 cars. On a Friday afternoon in June, I ran into just one other hiker. There were plenty of lizards for the pups to chase. Would definitely do this one again for a quick exercise/mountain fix!
AllTrails track and stats here.
|This is about as steep as it gets.|
|View from the southwest offshoot.|
|One of the cave openings I was too |
|Descending down the east side of the loop.|
|Lots of pines provided a good amount of shade.|
|Tired pups at the end of the hike.|
We did this hike again before we left Flagstaff. All of the peaks I wanted to bag while I was in Flag were closed due to fire danger, so the whole pack went back and did Caves Crater again in the opposite direction. It was a bit hotter this time, but that seemed to bring out extra lizards for the pups!
|They are so tolerant of my "sit still for another photo" requests.|