Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club
Pipeline Trail Day Hike
when Trip Report : August 6, 2011
where? Flagstaff
the hike     Pipeline Trail begins just north of Buffalo Park, Flagstaff’s urban forest preserve, and follows a gas pipeline right-of-way along the base of Mt. Elden. This broad, open trail offers an easy hike across fairly open terrain with opportunities to get a close look at the lower limits of some of the old Mt. Elden lava flows. One of the lava flows we can walk though as an arch. It also offers easy access to some of the many small rocky canyons that carve Mt. Elden’s lower slopes. Ponderosa pines are the predominant vegetation along the trail, mixed with Gambel oaks that color the slopes a burnt gold in the fall and cliffrose that contribute a pleasant fragrance in the spring.
    Much of the Pipeline Trail passes through the Mt. Elden Environmental Study Area (ESA). This is an area set aside by the Forest Service in the mid-1970s as an outdoor study resource for schools and environmental groups. Gray foxes and coyotes can be seen along the trail as well as an occasional raccoon. Common birds encountered here are Steller’s jays, juncos and a variety of hawks that hunt the rocky slopes. Open areas annually tinted bright yellow with a midsummer wash of sunflowers serve as a colorful stage.
    At Fat Man’s Loop trail we will do a left turn and go though the many free standing old lava pillars. This includes the pass that gives this trail its name. Have lunch at the top where this trail joins the Mt Elden trail. The Fat Man’s Loop has 200 of the 300 foot elevation gain this trail offers. From the lunch spot we can look over Flagstaff and the south side of Mt Elden. The Fat Man’s Loop does continue on, but that is open forest that we can skip if the group prefers.
    This is the monsoon season, so be prepared for a late afternoon rain. The trail has (had?) a mix of sun and shade. This will be an exploratory hike, because I do not know how much damage the Schultz fire caused to this area.
distance 5.6 miles + 1.8 for Fat Man’s Loop
EC +-300' elevation change
elevations 7100' (Trailhead) to 7400' (Mt Elden trail junction)
time 5-6 hours
rating "C"     Rate yourself as a hiker.
starting at
Buffalo Park 35° 13.061' N,  111° 37.922' W  [NAD27]
on trail 100% — Pipeline #42 & Fat Man’s
dogs? no
cost Sharing gas expenses with the driver.
The club also allows voluntary contributions of $5 per non-member.
weather Flagstaff
meet 7:00 AM in the Fry’s parking lot on the SW corner of I-17 & Bell Road. Park behind Denny’s, near the entrance to the Deer Valley Park & Ride.
drive We’ll re-convene in Flagstaff and drive in caravan to the trailhead. Be at the Target parking lot at the corner of Milton and University (just north of I-17) in the corner of the lot next to the traffic light, by 9:30 AM.

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