Kelsey Trail #3


View of Sycamore Canyon from Kelsey Trail a mile northwest of Winter Cabin (2015)

From the Kelsey Trailhead, you immediately descend into a shady forested canyon of ponderosa pine mixed with Douglas fir, Gambel oak, and juniper trees. Most of the length of the trail is gradual up and down with only a few short steep areas. Along the trail water can be obtained, usually year-round, at Kelsey Spring, Babes Hole Spring, Dorsey Spring, and Winter Cabin Spring. There are many spectacular panoramic views of Sycamore Canyon as you hike along the trail. Kelsey Trail and the Dorsey Spring Trail make a great 7.3 mile day hike loop. The Kelsey Trail terminates at the junction of Winter Cabin Trail.

Note, Kelsey Trail is often referred to as Kelsey Spring Trail, Kelsey Winter Trail, or Kelsey-Winter Cabin Trail.


Photo tour from this trail [Flickr]


Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Trail System

The Sycamore Canyon Wilderness North Trail System within the Flagstaff Ranger District consists of five trails with a combined mileage of 11.3 miles with the longest trail being 5.6 miles. These trails include:

Each trail is suitable for day hikes or longer overnight loop hikes.

Sycamore Canyon can be very hot and dry during the summer months. There are several springs located near the Wilderness trails which normally have water year round but hikers should not depend on this water being available and all ground water should always be treated or filtered. There is plenty of shade along all of the trails as you descend into Sycamore Canyon through a thick forest of ponderosa pine, Gambel oak, and juniper trees. The lower part of Winter Cabin Trail and part of Kelsey Springs Trail takes you through chaparral type vegetation which offers spectacular views of Sycamore Canyon.

Sycamore Canyon is the second largest canyon in Arizona and offers hikers plenty of solitude and natural beauty. Learn more about Sycamore Canyon Wilderness.

At a Glance

Open Season: Year-round
Closest Towns: Flagstaff, AZ
Operated By: Flagstaff Ranger District - 928-526-0866

General Information

General Notes:

Length: 5.6 miles


  • No mechanized vehicles including bicycles in the Wilderness.
  • Fire danger is usually high - be careful with campfires.
  • Camp at least 200 feet from springs and bury human waste 200 feet from springs. Pack out all trash.

Leave No Trace: Recognize your role in preserving wild lands by practicing these Leave No Trace principles:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts.
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be considerate of other visitors.


Location: Southwest of Flagstaff, Arizona

Access: From Flagstaff, take W. Old Route 66 west to FR 231 (Woody Mountain Road). Go south on FR 231 for 14 miles and take a right at FR 538  to FR 538G (about 5.5 miles). It's about 2 miles from junction of FR 538 and FR 538G to the trailhead. Kelsey trailhead is about 1/4 mile west of the junction of FR 538G and FR 527A.

Access to the trailheads is by dirt roads which can be extremely rough and even impassable during Monsoon Season and winter months due to mud and heavy snow. Woody Mountain Road is subject to winter season road closure.

GPS (Map): 35°04'28.3"N 111°55'47.1"W



Click map image for printable view.

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Trail System Map

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  Area/Length : 
5.6 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
6648 at trailhead