Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
687.00 ft (209.40 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
3.70 mi (5.95 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Old Caves Crater is a fantastic hike just a short distance from Flagstaff, Arizona. The trail takes hikers up a 400-foot volcanically extinct cinder cone. From the top you’ll have stellar views of the Mount Elden lava dome to the west and the ever impressive San Francisco Peaks to the northwest.

The trail begins gently through volcanic cinder fields and through the shade of large ponderosa pines. Continue straight through two junctions. The trail then begins to switchback up the crater. The switchbacks are very well graded however, and the climbing is fairly easy.

Piñon and juniper begin to appear as you leave the ponderosas behind. As you near the top the trail splits. It’s recommended you first head to the right as this will take you to the “south summit” and the “old caves” area. It is very hard to make anything out, but this was actually the site of a Native American Pueblo. Sinagua lived here as late as 1325.

Heading back to the left will take you to the true summit. Although the views aren’t quite as good here as the south summit, they are still great. Once you’ve enjoyed it, begin heading down by continuing straight. The trail switchbacks until it leaves the crater and comes to a junction. Take a right. This trail will travel around the eastern side of the crater through the ponderosas until coming to a junction. Take a left (this was the initial approach trail) and continue back to the parking lot.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Enjoyable hike up an old volcanic crater. Mountain views.

Trailhead Elevation

6,663.00 ft (2,030.88 m)

Highest point

7,173.00 ft (2,186.33 m)

Features

Wildlife
Family friendly
Big vistas
Big Game Watching
Bird watching
Wildflowers
Native artifacts

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

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