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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

SUNSET-LITTLE BEAR-LITTLE ELDEN LOOP

SUNSET-LITTLE BEAR-LITTLE ELDEN LOOP Coconino National Forest UPDATE: As of Oct 20, 2016, Little Bear Trail is BACK OPEN. The trail had been closed for 6 years due to damage from the June 2010 Schultz Fire.
Because there are so many fine trails in Flagstaff’s Dry Lake Hills, deciding which to hike can be difficult. This “three-fer” loop hike solves the dilemma. Combining a trio of crowd-pleasing trails, this route swings around high altitude hillsides in lazy-Susan-style for a smorgasbord of sights and varying levels of difficulty. Each trail embodies a unique collection of sweet spots and curiosities. Little Bear, one of the newest trails in the area, is a narrow cut on a steep slope wandering among fir forests, crumbing bluffs and stone escarpments overlooking Sunset Crater and the Painted Desert. Sunset Trail showcases glimpses of the San Francisco Peaks as it makes a substantial climb through mixed pine-oak forests and fragrant alpine meadows. Little Elden-- the easiest segment—heads northwest through fern-laden foothills and stands of spruce trees to complete the loop. HIKE DIRECTIONS: The hike begins on the Sunset Trail with a 1.6-mile uphill climb to the Little Bear Junction. Turn left (northeast) and head 3.5 miles downhill on Little Bear to the Little Elden junction. Go left (northwest) and hike 1.7 miles back to the trailhead. HIGHLIGHTS: undulating route with lots of variety LENGTH: 6.8 miles roundtrip ELEVATION: 7,200-9,000 feet RATING: difficult DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 155 miles one-way GETTING THERE: From Flagstaff, go north on US 180 to Shultz Pass Road (Forest Road 420) at milepost 218.6. Turn right and continue 5 miles on FR 420 to the Sunset Trailhead on the right. INFORMATION: Peaks Ranger District (928) 526-0866, www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/recreation/peaks/little-bear-tr.shtml

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