The Quick Stats
Distance: 6.3 miles out & back
Elevation Change: 2,398.3 ft
Type: Step rocky trail with a lot of switchbacks
Restrooms at the Trailhead: no
Water at the trailhead: no
Dogs allowed: yes
Parking lot: Very small parking lot
Hiker’s ledger: no
To get to Elden Lookout from Phoenix, take the I-17 North towards Flagstaff. Once in Flagstaff, take the I-40 East towards Albuquerque and get off on Exit 201 for Country Club Rd. Turn left and then turn right on US-89 N towards Page. The parking lot comes up quick on the left hand side of the road. The location is easy to find on maps.
We hiked Elden Lookout in early June. We drove up to Flagstaff from Phoenix arriving to the trailhead around 9:30 am. At this time it was already in the low 80’s, but to us Phoenicians it felt amazing! The parking lot is small with limited parking. We were lucky and got a spot after we saw someone leave, but a lot of people park along the sides. Our recommendation is to start early; it’ll help you get a spot and if you are hiking in the summer, getting there early will help you avoid the high temps. The hike is on the east side of the mountain so there is direct sun the first half of the day. We felt there wasn’t a lot of shade on this hike either. If the afternoon temperatures are cool in the spring and fall, maybe try hiking at that time to avoid the sun.
This hike is strenuous and the elevation can make it even harder. For us we aren’t used to hiking with elevation so we felt more out of breath than we normally feel while hiking. AllTrails states that this hike is 6.3 miles out and back, but we recorded 5.7 miles out and back with 2,195 ft in elevation gain. For reference Flagstaff sits at 6,090 ft. It took us about 3 hours to finish this hike with stops. We brought our dog with us! He loves to hike and can climbs the rocks so easily. We made sure we stopped often give him water and help him cool off.
At the top is the Elden Lookout Tower, a fire tower still in active service by the US Forest Service. Prior to the pandemic, visitors have been able to climb the tower stairs when open, and look at the spectacular view. Also up on the mountain are cell towers and weather measurement instruments. We can’t wait to be back when the tower is open to visitors!