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Sycamore Rim Trail - Kaibab National Forest

Summary: A medium length hike with little elevation change that travels through the pleasant pine forests near Flagstaff. Along the way we'll visit a popular climbing area and sink hole.
Directions: From Flagstaff drive west on Interstate 40 to Exit 178 for Parks Road. Head south on Parks Rd. which turns to well graded dirt after 2.7 miles and eventually becomes Forest Road (FR) #141. At the 9.1 mile point you'll arrive at a 4-way stop with FR 131 heading left. Stay straight at this intersection onto FR #13 which is somewhat rougher. Follow FR #13 for 1 mile then turn left onto FR #56. In 0.3 miles you'll reach a large parking area on the left. Park here.
Road Conditions: Passenger Car (as long as the roads are dry)
Navigation: Easy
Length: 11 mile loop
Date Hiked: May, 2005
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm
Required Skills:
Hike Description: This hike is described in a clockwise direction. From the parking area walk past the big Forest Service sign and pick up the path as it heads past a few shallow ponds into the forest. In a few minutes you'll reach a sign for the Sycamore Rim Trail which points the way to the Old Logging Site (0.5 miles) and Double Tanks (3.5 miles). A few minutes past this point you'll reach another sign marking where the Overland Trail crosses the path. Stay straight, and shortly you'll arrive at the remains of a saw mill that was active in the area between 1910-1920. The path follows along beside the right fork of upper Sycamore Canyon soon passing Dow Spring and cabin before continuing through the forest which features occasional views down into the canyon. After 5 miles you'll arrive at a signed trail junction with a right branching spur trail which leads 0.25 miles right to the Sycamore Vista Trailhead. Stay straight towards Vista Point which you'll arrive at 0.5 miles later and features a large sign and viewpoint (what else?). The trail follows the upper left fork of the canyon past this point eventually reaching Sycamore Falls, a popular climbing area. From here it's possible to take a little detour to visit a feature called the Ice Cave which is shown on the Coconino National Forest map. The route is not marked and requires a short cross country trip to find, but it only takes about 15 minutes (assuming you go in the right direction). I'm not going to describe the route here, but the gps waypoint for the feature is: UTM 12S 406892mE, 3888450mN. The Ice Cave itself is more of a sinkhole than a cave, but true to it's name, there was ice in the bottom on this warm May day. Ok, back at the climbing area, continue to follow the Sycamore Rim Trail for about a mile to the junction with a left branching trail that leads to the Pomeroy Tanks Trailhead. Stay straight and you'll soon run into an interpretive sign for the Tanks, which are natural reservoirs that provide a year round source of water to a variety of wildlife. The trail drops down and crosses the Tank, then winds its way up canyon to a junction with the Overland Trail (7.5 miles). Stay straight (heading towards KA Hill) as the trail begins ascending gradually, crossing a few forest roads as it does so. The path eventually begins climbing somewhat more steeply to arrive at the top of KA Hill (9.75 miles, 7287 feet), before descending down the other side to arrive at the parking area from which you began (11 miles).
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author, his wife and two friends completed this hike at a moderate pace, including a visit to the Ice Cave in just under 7 hours.
Maps: A map of the hike can be found here.
Note: This map was reproduced from the Forest Service sign at the trailhead.
Books:  None
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
The remains of ye olde sawmill. View overlooking the canyon.
Ice Cave Pomeroy Tanks Sycamore Falls area
, note the climbers.