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Kelsey/Hog Hill/Dorsey Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
  3.7 ( 3 ) Favorite

Trail

13.4 mile 21.5 kilometer loop
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 2,617' 798 m
Descent: -2,618' -798 m
High: 6,926' 2,111 m
Low: 5,930' 1,807 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 69% (34°)

Dogs

Unknown
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Trail shared by John Maurizi

A loop hike following three trails along the rim of Sycamore Canyon.

John Maurizi

Features Spring · Views · Wildlife

Check with the Coconino Ranger Station for current campfire restrictions.

Overview

This is a long day hike that is best done as an overnight backpacking trip along the rim of Sycamore Canyon. The loop follows the route of three trails, Kelsey Spring Trail, Hog Hill Trail, and Dorsey Trail.

Need to Know

It takes a little more than one hour to get to the trailhead from Flagstaff with a high clearance 4x4. Plan accordingly if doing this as a day hike.

Description

This hike starts on the Kelsey Spring Trail. Park at the end of Forest Service Road 538G. There is a parking area for about 6-7 cars. Just past the signage for the trail, which is also called Kelsey Winter Trail, there is a trail registration box. Be sure to sign in.

The trail descends steeply for the first half mile then eases up when you reach Kelsey Spring. Here, the trail makes a sharp left and rolls through the forest, passing several very nice campsites until you reach Babe's Spring. This spring appeared to be flowing pretty good. There is a sign and wood cover protecting the spring somewhat.

After this point, you get your first glimpse of Sycamore Canyon, although, it is not that great. The trail exits the forest for a short time with better views. After about 2.8 miles, you reach the trail junction with the Dorsey Trail. This is a good option for a shorter loop, hiking up Dorsey to the road and following 538G back to your car.

Pass Dorsey Trail continuing south through the forest. You'll exit the forest again at a large volcanic plug on the right and a line of vertical cliffs to the left. This area is fully exposed to the sun and can be very overgrown with stiff holly brush. The trail begins a steady descent into the forest and about another 2.8 miles from the Dorsey Trail, you'll reach the end at the Winter Cabin Trail. This is a great place to camp for the night or continue for a long day hike finishing the loop with Hog Hill Trail and the Dorsey Trail. However, there is no water source so to be sure to fill up at Dorsey Spring as you pass it along the Kelsey Spring Trail.

Begin the loop section of this hike by turning left at the Winter Cabin and hiking uphill. After a short distance, you'll see a sign for Hog Hill. Continuing uphill on the Hog Hill Trail, the trail begins to get difficult to find after about a half mile so the go is slow. Take your time and frequently check your position by map or GPS. The trail becomes easier to find after about a quarter mile and it's a gradual hike up to the trailhead and the junction with the Dorsey Trail.

Turn left on the Dorsey Trail. The Dorsey Trail starts off wide and eventually narrows as it descends toward Sycamore Canyon. It does get steep toward the end. I passed a Forest Service trail crew of about 10 rangers working on the trail. I thanked every one of them and continued. At the end of the trail is a sign post marking the intersection with the Kelsey Spring Trail. Just before this on the left is Dorsey Spring.

There is a very nice camping area to the right a little way down the trail from the spring. Practice LNT principles and know the current conditions and campfire restrictions. When I was there is was a "red flag" day meaning fire danger was very high and all campfires were prohibited.

Once back at the Dorsey Trail and Kelsey Spring Trail junction, turn right and follow the Kelsey Spring Trail back to your car. The last half mile is very steep and if doing this hike as a day hike, it is a tough go.

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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna, History & Background

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Check-Ins

Jul 21, 2019
Laurent K
Backpack it and added Little L. O. trail.
May 4, 2019
Kevin Bailey
Backpacked Dorsey to Kelsey to Hog Hill. Slept at Winter Cabin. Water available at Dorsey Spring and Winter Cabin. 8.9mi — 5h 23m

Trail Ratings

  3.7 from 3 votes

#3567

Overall
  3.7 from 3 votes
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Featured Hike Rankings

#142

in Arizona

#3,567

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45 Views Last Month
925 Since Jul 7, 2017
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

This old winter cabin barely stands along the Hog Hill Trail.
Jul 10, 2017 near Parks, AZ
Sycamore Canyon is quite beautiful any time of year.
Jul 10, 2017 near Parks, AZ
This is the trailhead for Dorsey Spring Trail (right) and Hog Hill Trail (left).
Jul 10, 2017 near Kachina…, AZ
Dorsey Spring traverses established forest on a pleasant tread.
Jul 10, 2017 near Kachina…, AZ
Occasional cairns can be found along the trail, but do not rely on them for navigation.
Jul 10, 2017 near Parks, AZ
The trail is difficult to follow in this section, so keep your wits about you.
Jul 10, 2017 near Parks, AZ

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