Find A Trail. Start Your Search Here:

Monday, June 7, 2021

Sandy Seep Trail


Sandy Seep Trail below east slopes of Elden Mtn

Short, easy and scenic, the Sandy Seep Trail offers quick access to a network of routes on the east flanks of Mount Elden in northeast Flagstaff.  While the 1.5-mile path makes for a sweet standalone hike, it also serves as an on-ramp for the 42-mile, city-circling Flagstaff Loop Trail and the 800+-mile, state-traversing Arizona National Scenic Trail. 
Extend the hike at the "sign vortex"

In addition, the route can be used to access two heart-pumping trails---Little Bear and Heart--that climb steep slopes to the ridgelines of Elden Mountain. 
Slimleaf lima beans bloom May - October

Located just a few clicks north of downtown off US 89, the old standard trail has been a stalwart pillar of the Mount Elden/Dry Lakes Hills trail system in Coconino National Forest. 
Mt. Elden seen from Sandy Seep Trail

Having already survived several devastating wildfires including the 1977 Radio Fire and the 2010 Schultz Fire, the trail is also within the scope of proposed changes that will improve forest health and enhance user experience in the popular recreation hub.  You can weigh in on how the changes might roll out.
Western blue flax blooms in clearings Apr-Sept

Coconino National Forest is asking for public input regarding proposed improvements to the non-motorized trails in the Mount Elden/Dry Lake Hills area in northeast Flagstaff.  Popular hiking, biking and equestrian trails in the heavily-used area have been deteriorating and a maze of unauthorized paths have resulted in environmental damage, trail-user confusion and safety concerns.  The proposed project includes plans for sustainable new trail construction, re-routes of existing trails, trailhead improvements and closure of some wildcat paths.

The public may comment online or at scheduled in-person events between June 1 and July 1, 2021.  Here’s the link to the plan maps, environmental analysis, contacts and comment form:

View of the seep from the Arizona Trail

In the meantime, hit the Sandy Seep Trail to gain an appreciation for this beautiful mountainous region and see for yourself what a re-boot will do for the area.  From the trailhead, the path is wide and easy to follow.  You’ll pass the first Arizona Trail/Flagstaff Loop junction at the 0.1-mile point before the path veers right through spotty pines and oak glens.  Views of 9,299-foot Mount Elden and 9,018-foot Little Elden Mountain bolster the trail’s western edge.  Sandy Seep Trail ends at the “sign vortex” at the 1.5-mile point.  Interestingly, the seep is not located on the eponymous trail, but a few yards ahead on the Little Elden Trail.  
Look for Spreading Dogbane June-August

Use this trail to access the Little Bear Trail

To get there, follow the Little Elden/Arizona Trail another 0.2-mile to where an Arizona Trail sign steers hikers to the right.  Within a few yards, the trail rises above a sunken basin ringed with reeds and wildflowers.

Sandy Seep is an onramp to the AZT and Flagstaff Loop

Sometimes soggy, but mostly dry, the seep is a favorite hangout for local wildlife like deer, squirrels and rabbits.  For an easy stroll, make the seep your turnaround point, or another good day hike out-and-back option is to continue another 2.7 miles to the Little Elden Springs trailhead.
Scenic spot on the Little Elden/Arizona Trail

LENGTH: 3 miles round trip for Sandy Seep or 8.4 miles roundtrip to the Little Elden Spring trailhead and back.

RATING: easy

ELEVATION: 6,885 – 7,270 feet or 6,885 - 7,320 feet


Sandy Seep Trailhead as described here:

In Flagstaff, take US 89 north toward Page. One half mile beyond the Townsend/Winona Road intersection, turn left onto Forest Road 9139 and continue a few yards to the trailhead.

Little Elden Spring Trailhead option:

Drive 5 miles northeast of In Flagstaff go 5 miles north on US 89 to Elden Spring Road (Forest Road 556), turn left and continue 3.5 miles to the Little Elden Springs trailhead on the right.

INFO: Coconino National Forest

Arizona Trail Association

Flagstaff Loop Trail

No comments: