Area Status: Open
This trail climbs the Dry Lake Hills from Little Elden Trail to meet Sunset Trail in quiet nook between the Dry Lake Hills and Mount Elden. Much of the trail was constructed - and reconstructed three times since the 2010 Schultz Fire - by devoted trail volunteers including mountain bikers, hikers, equestrians and several other organizations.
The trail climbs through the skeletons left behind by the Schultz Fire and patches of surviving ponderosa pine and Gambel oak. It gradually winds through Douglas-fir, limber pine, and pockets of aspen trees at the top. The trail offers outstanding views of the San Francisco Peaks, Sunset Crater, several prominent volcanic peaks, and in the distant background the painted desert acts as a colorful backdrop.
Many wildlife species make their home in this area including mule deer, elk, porcupine and black bear for which the trail is distinctly named after. In addition, red-tailed hawks, raven and the occasional turkey vulture will dazzle you with their aerial acrobats. Please remember to minimize your impacts on wildlife by viewing from a distance, keeping your dog on a leash, and limiting noise levels to a minimum.
The trail, devastated by the Schultz Fire and extreme monsoon weather in subsequent years, was rebuilt with the assistance of local recreation organizations, volunteer groups, and devoted members of the community.
At a Glance
||May thru November
||Flagstaff Ranger District - 928-526-0866
Location: Northeast side of Mount Elden off of Elden Springs Road (Forest Road 556)
GPS (Map): 35°16'52.7"N 111°35'25.1"W
USGS Map: Sunset Crater West
Elevation: 7,620' to 8,700'
Access: Drive 5 miles northeast of Flagstaff on US Highway 89 to Elden Spring Road (Forest Road 556) and turn left (west). Continue on this road approximately 3.5 miles to the Little Elden Springs trailhead on the right (north) side of the road. Park at this trailhead and follow Little Elden Trail #69 west about 1.5 miles to the junction of Little Bear Trail.
Click on map image for printable view.
Hiking time: 2 to 3.5 hours depending on your physical ability(one way)
Trail Etiquette: Please remember that you share the trail with other users and that trail courtesy and safety is your responsibility. Be sure to observe all rules and regulations, stay on designated trail, and minimize your impacts by not trampling vegetation and avoiding muddy areas. Also, hikers and mountain bikers should yield the trail to equestrians, and mountain bikers should yield the trail to hikers.
Notes: This is a non-motorized, multiple-use trail intended for hiking, mountain biking and equestrian use only.