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Red Mountain & Slate Mountain
September 2, 2017
by Jim Buyens
Red   GPS Map 
Slate  GPS Map
Our friendly group of Trailblazers, ready to hike. [photo by Carol]
Andy, Carol, Chuck, Darrell, Becky, Jim, Heather, Mark, Daniel

Looking late in the season for another interesting Flagstaff hike that’ll beat the heat isn’t always easy. Chances are, most of the best hikes were already scheduled earlier in the summer. And yet, an open date was fast approaching on the club calendar. So what to do?

Then I remembered Red Mountain, a volcanic cinder cone that rises 1,000 feet above the surrounding landscape. And in the center is an almost-surreal network of passageways created by some combination of eruption and erosion. And since it’s an incomplete cone with one side open side open to the east, you don’t even have to climb and then descend the thousand-foot rim to see it.

The road to the trailhead is unmaintained dirt but with a few detours around deep ruts we made it in. The trailhead itself wasn’t crowded but nevertheless someone there knew me! It was a woman from Spain who said she’d hiked with the club before and she talked on and on about how much she liked it. But eventually I managed to distract her and her three companions with club whistles and then, at about 10:15 AM, we were on our way.

Red mountain rises from the desert as we approach.
[photo by Darrell]
Becky holds my poles as I prepare for an ascent.
[photo by Heather]
Not many trees manage to survive in the lava slopes like this one. [photo by Darrell]
The terrain inside the caldera is almost surreal.
[photo by Darrell]
Carol explores one of the many nooks and crannies inside the caldera. [photo by Carol]
More amazing formations inside the caldera.
[photo by Darrell]

The approach to the cone is a little less than two miles in, all gently uphill, and of course the same distance downward coming back. I’d been to the cone twice before and didn’t spend a lot of time looking around, but everyone else found it interesting. We found a teenager out hiking with his family to take a group photo and then rewarded him with (what else) a club whistle! Then we gave another to his brother, who seemed to be feeling left out.

We were just starting our way back to the cars when we encountered the four Spanish ladies again. They insisted having their picture taken with me, and then talked on and on until we really had to go. One even invited me to fly to Spain with her and hike the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile hiking pilgrimage!

These four women from Spain now live in Phoenix, and couldn’t resist stopping Darrel and me to chat.
[photo by Heather]

The hike back was uneventful and we quickly loaded up for the short drive to Slate Mountain. The access road there was twice as long and twice as rutted as the one at Red Mountain but with a bit of trial-and-error we made it in.

The Slate Mountain is a nice out-and-back trail, about two and a half miles each way, with some nice views of the San Francisco Peaks to the east. The elevation is gentle but continuous and rises about 860 feet. In fact, the trail rises so smoothly that we theorized it might have been built as a road. This trail wasn’t nearly as interesting as Red Mountain but it was close by, it added about five miles to our day, and that made the trip up to Flagstaff worthwhile. Skies were overcast the whole time we spent on this trail but it never rained and the shade was refreshing.

The hike up Slate Mountain offers many nice views of the San Francisco peaks. [photo by Darrell]
Summit of Slate Mountain. The skies were gray but the rain
held off until we were driving home. [photo by Darrell]

On the way back to Phoenix we stopped at The McMillan Bar and Kitchen on Old Route 66 in Flagstaff. This is much more an American bistro than an Irish pub but it does have the distinction of occupying the oldest standing building in Flagstaff. The menu was a bit short but the preparation was great and they even seated us in a private dining room!

All in all this was an interesting day that everyone seemed to enjoy. So thumbs up!

For more information about the Red Mountain volcano, click here.

Red Mountain Hike Statistics
Total Distance: 3.71miles
Starting Time: 10:17AM
Moving Time: 1:28hrs:min
Stopped Time: 0:05hrs:min
Duration: 1:33hrs:min
Finishing Time: 11:51AM
Avg. Speed Moving: 2.5mph
Avg. Speed Overall: 2.3mph
Starting Elevation: 6,766ft
Minimum Elevation: 6,735ft
Maximum Elevation: 7,042ft
Total Ascent: 307ft
Calories: 298
Starting Temperature: 74°
Finishing Temperature: 78°
Slate Mountain Hike Statistics
Total Distance: 4.6miles
Starting Time: 12:26PM
Moving Time: 1:56hrs:min
Stopped Time: 0:22hrs:min
Duration: 2:18hrs:min
Finishing Time: 2:45PM
Avg. Speed Moving: 2.4mph
Avg. Speed Overall: 2.0mph
Starting Elevation: 7,376ft
Minimum Elevation: 7,328ft
Maximum Elevation: 8,189ft
Total Ascent: 861ft
Calories: 405
Starting Temperature: 78°
Finishing Temperature: 79°
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated September 11, 2017