The Study Area was designated by the Forest Service in the 1970's to provide educational opportunities to youth and university students. Remnants of an interpretive trail remain but improvements are needed. The Coconino National Forest is hoping to partner with Alpine Leadership Academy to develop an interpretive program. 

South of the Pipeline trail are several open, flat areas accessible from neighborhoods that could be used for talks. This area offers extensive trails, making it ideal for a quick urban escape or a day-long, physically demanding adventure. Be sure to plan ahead, bring plenty of water, and wear appropriate clothing. 

What You'll See

Gray foxes, coyotes, and the occasional raccoon can be seen along the trail. Visitors are likely to see Steller's jays, juncos, and a variety of hawks that hunt the rocky slopes. Mt. Elden's rugged slopes create a diversity of microclimates - the temperature, moisture, and biophysical characteristics of a small area. These varying slopes, aspects, and elevations support unique vegetation that attract all kinds of wildlife. Butterflies and birds are abundant. Rabbits and other small mammals are also common. 

Getting There

The Mt. Elden Environmental Study Area can be accessed by the Pipeline Trail, an easy 2.8 mile trail connecting Elden Lookout trail with Oldham Trail (Buffalo Park). From the Elden Trails parking lot off Highway 89, hike approximately 1/4 mile up the trail and stay left to begin the Pipeline Trail. The Pipeline Trail is mountain bike accessible. Alternatively, drive to Cedar Avenue park in the cul de sac on Lugano Way, where you will see trail access. 

Helpful Tips


Parking lot and trail system. 

Access Info 

Forest trails are open April-November. Hiking trails may be muddy or under snow in the winter months. 


The trails below Mount Elden have some of the best year round bird watching opportunities in town. Join us on this AWWE audio guide as we take a walk with experienced birder and Audubon Society site steward Jason Wilder. Highlights include a rare sparrow that breeds here, a tiny owl that you can potentially see or hear in the day time, and a song bird that sings all winter long. Also hear from NAU biologist, Paul Beier, about mountain lions, how to spot their tracks, and what to do to stay safe in the unlikely event that you encounter one.

Narrated by Rose Houk, recorded and produced by Diane Hope with funding from the AZGFD Heritage Fund. Recordings of northern pygmy owl and canyon wren courtesy of Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 


Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff Ranger District