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Thursday, May 7, 2009


OLD CAVES CRATER Flagstaff Even in the rain (as we experienced), hiking to the summit of Old Caves Crater is a thoroughly enjoyable experience offering a unique opportunity to explore both geological and human history. The trail is shaded by pine and juniper and wildflowers grow profusely in the many grassy meadows along the way. Gaining just 500 feet over 1.2 miles, it takes only about 20 minutes to reach the summit. Once at the crest of the hill, a “T” intersection divides the trail. Head right to visit the old caves where ancient inhabitants lived and stored their food. The “caves” are actually gigantic air pockets within the russet-colored lava flow that signaled the death of this dormant cinder cone. Hundreds of pottery shards litter the hillsides behind the cave. Observe and enjoy these remnants of an ancient culture but remember that it’s not only disrespectful to steal or displace the artifacts – it’s also illegal. Don’t forget to explore the other side of the trail from the “T” intersection that leads to the hill’s high point and features beautiful views as well as an array of unusual plants. GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to the junction with I-40 in Flagstaff.  Turn right and go east on I-40 to the turnoff for  US89 north. Follow US89 north to Silver Saddle Road. Go east (right) onto Silver Saddle Road and continue for a quarter-mile to the obvious, signed parking lot on the left. LENGTH: 2.4 miles round trip RATING: easy-moderate ELEVATION: 6,675' - 7,183' INFORMATION & MAP: Coconino National Forest:

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