Hiking the Sunset Trail in Flagstaff, Arizona

Updated on March 13, 2018
Ramkitten2000 profile image

I've lived in Flagstaff since 2003, where I'm an active member of the Coconino County Sheriff's Search & Rescue team.

About the Sunset Trail

Distance: 4.9 miles, one-way, to the summit of Mt. Elden, with options for loop hikes of varying distances.

Location of the Trailhead: Drive 7 miles north of Flagstaff on US 180 to Schultz Pass Rd. (FR 420) on the right. About 6 miles from the west end of Schultz Pass Road, look for the turn-off to the trailhead parking area on the right, or drive just beyond that turn-off and park at Schultz Tank. Schultz Pass Road does not require a high-clearance vehicle, but it does close in the winter--or at least when it snows. Call the Coconino County National Forest at (928)527-3600 for information.

Finding the Trailhead for Sunset Trail and Other Hikes

A markerSchultz Tank, Schultz Pass Rd., Flagstaff, AZ -
Shultz Pass Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA
get directions

About the Hike and Alternate Loops

The Sunset Trail is another of my favorites around Flagstaff, in part because it affords multiple options for longer out-and-back and loop hikes. While a walk on just the Sunset Trail up to the catwalk on Mount Elden, where you can continue 1.8 miles further to the summit, is a great dayhike, the following are some other choices that don't require retracing your steps. While not all loops in this area need include the Sunset Trail, these routes begin and end from the same parking area, where several trails converge.

  • Sunset Trail (moderate ascent) to the Heart Trail (downhill) to Little Elden Trail, which takes you around the base of Mt. Elden, back to the starting point: 10 miles

  • Little Elden Trail to Little Bear Trail (moderate, well-graded uphill) to Sunset Trail (north/right, a short up then downhill) back to the starting point: 8 miles

  • Little Elden Trail to Little Bear Trail to Sunset Trail (south/left, uphill) to Upper Oldham Trail (downhill, sometimes steep) to Brookbank Trail (uphill) to Schultz Loop Trail (Brookbank Trail continues to the right, but go straight for this particular loop) to Dry Lake Hills and back down to the starting point: 11.8 miles

  • Schultz Loop Trail (uphill) to the Brookbank Trail (downhill) to Rocky Ridge Trail to Schultz Creek Trail back to the starting point: 9.7 miles


As you walk these trails, keep an eye out for old carvings on the aspen trees, made by Basque sheepherders who once frequented the area.

The above-mentioned trails are generally well-graded and rarely very steep, making them popular destinations for trail runners and mountain bikers -- especially the Schultz Creek Trail for bikers. When we hiked that one recently, we started very early on a chilly morning, which is probably why we didn't have any company on that 3.1-mile section of our loop. But expect to make way for quite a few bikes, and you won't be surprised.

Another treat in this area are the Dry Lake Hills, a short, .8-mile round-trip walk on an old dirt road off the Brookbank Trail. (You can also incorporate the former road, which, according to the signs but not our map, seems to be referred to as the Schultz Loop trail, into a loop hike.) The Dry Lake Hills, where there is often some water in the tank, is a gorgeous meadow surrounded by ... well, hills. Creative nouns and adjectives are failing me at the moment, but take my word for it: if you're hiking, biking or trail running in the area, take the time to visit the Dry Lake Hills. From there, you can do an additional 1.8-mile out-and-back hike to another treat. Just follow the worn path across the meadow the long way. You'll re-enter the trees and soon see a significant rock formation ahead. Sit up on the rocks and enjoy the view.

And for you climbers out there, the Brookbank and Upper Oldham Trails can take you to the Mt. Elden climbing area, also accessible by car on the (unpaved) Elden Lookout Road. There's fun to be had there for both beginning and more advanced climbers.

Recommended: Flagstaff Trails Map

Flagstaff Trails Map
Flagstaff Trails Map

This is the (weatherproof) map I always carry with me when hiking in the area, even when I know a trail well. There are so many loops and intersecting trails in the Mount Elden area, including Sunset Trail and many others, that it's a good idea to carry the map and not rely just on memory and sometimes signs.

 
Sunset Trail
Sunset Trail

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Coffeequeeen profile image

        Louise Powles 

        4 months ago from Norfolk, England

        I'd love to visit Arizona. It's such a lovely part of the USA.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, skyaboveus.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://skyaboveus.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)