Travel Hooray – Arizona Hiking: 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

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

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

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

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