Heart Trail is a 8.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Flagstaff, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from April until November.
Directions from Flagstaff: The best access to the Heart Trail, would be to begin at the Sandy Seep trailhead. This is approximately 1.5 miles north of the Peaks Ranger Station on Highway 89, just past Elden Pueblo, on the west side of the highway. The trail is within the incorporated boundaries of Flagstaff, and can be reached by the Fatman Loop Trail and the Little Elden Trail. Equestrian parking is limited, but additional equestrian parking is located at the trailhead west of the Little Elden Spring horse camp on FR 556.
I began hiking at the Sandy Seep trailhead (which is about a half mile past (North of) Townsend-Winona on the left side, Forest Road 9139). Heart Trail basically picks up where Sandy Seep ends. It is a beautiful trail in the basin behind Mt. Elden. As you hike a spine you can see some other-worldly red rock spires/cliffs on your right and the top of Mt. Elden on your left (as noted by the lookout tower and electrical towers). This trail is moderate until it hits the switchbacks and then gets quite steep. The views of East Flagstaff are amazing and there is fairly good shade provided by the trees. I did not complete this hike to where it meets Sunset Trail at the top of Elden, but rather turned around at one of the saddles. Next time I'll make it to the top when I have more light. Highly recommended trail.
Went March 10th via Christmas Tree trail and up through Heart then Sunset then down Elden. Heart and Sunset had lots of snow still with sheer drop offs. Did not bring my micro spikes so the snow made it interesting.
Bills review lays this out perfectly, the switchbacks if you go the entire way are a bit brutal in direct sunlight above 75 degrees. Bring water if you are doing the loop Bill described or do it outside of sunny and hot weather :)
Scenic. Saw a bunch of yellow aspens at the top. Heart Trail is is very bad condition though. Still worth it and it will definitely become a regular trail run for me :)
I did the loop from Fatman's-->Christmas Tree-->Sandy Seep-->Heart-->Sunset-->Elden Lookout. The only strenuous part is Heart Trail as you ascend steep switch backs. Great views from the top. I would have given the hike 3, maybe 3.5, stars except for 1 area on Heart Trail that is not well marked. The TH was clear, but after the first westward portion you come to a clearing and there is not an obvious way to proceed. I wandered for over an hour and actually encountered a portion of Arizona Trail, which threw me off even further. As I was making my return in frustration, I stumbled across the Heart Trail slightly south of the aforementioned clearing. That was the only portion of the loop that wasn't perfectly clear. Trail is narrow is some parts with tall grass and vegetation on both sides. I wished I had been wearing long pants despite it being pretty hot: 82 degrees with little shade.
The Heart Trail is a 2.3 mile track that winds its way from Little Elden Trail to Sunset Trail. Following the spines of a series of connected hills, Heart Trail climbs some 1,450 feet en route to Sunset. That and the 11.6% grade make this a challenging route, especially for those not used to hiking at high elevation. I've hiked Heart Trail about 70 times, usually as part of what I like to call, the HELL Hike - Heart, Elden Lookout Loop Hike. This is a 9.2 mile loop, according to the Flagstaff Trails Map.
Wow! Such a beautiful place..
Not much to add to Ms. Lauman's review. Took the identical route. Clocked 8.77 miles on the GPSr. Wonderful walk just below ridgeline on Sunset. Enjoyed lunch and a welcome break after the Heart Trail. A bit on the steep side, the Heart Trail gains 1453' from the TH to the ridge in 2.37 miles (the signs say a bit less) for a 11.6% grade. The trail here is rocky and shadeless but well defined. Another 'magical' section is the walk from the antenna farm to the Eldon TH on your way down. Steep and knee jarring, the Eldon LO trail is always a bear. Took us a bit over 6 hours with a good 45 minute lunch break. Views are in the eye of the beholder (no pun intended) but looking down on Hiway 89 doesn't do a lot for me. The towers on the summit aren't exactly picturesque. Having said that, the hike was a nice one and enjoyable. A few people on the way up, several more from the LO down. A "red triangle" effort only due to Eldon LO's steep grade. 3 stars due to, in my humble opinion, not much of a view along the way or at the top. Photos: Rock formation from Heart trail looking NW into that corner of the Eldon crater. Other is looking down at Hiway 89 (left to right) and Burris Rd. from Sunset trail (ridge line).
The Heart Trail, though rocky in stretches, is generally well-graded and not as difficult as I'd thought it would be. And the scenery, both up-close and at a distance, is awesome. Something like twenty-five, thirty years ago, the whole south-side of the mountain burned (started by a teenage runaway's campfire), and the affected area is still obvious today. Many charred remnants remain standing, and instead of pines, the mountainside is covered with young oaks, grasses and wildflowers and some clusters of aspen and rock formations.
There's little shade along this trail, so it can get hot on an otherwise comfortably warm day, as the sun beats down and reflects off of the red dirt.
To get to the Heart Trail, we hiked an easy couple of miles on Fatman's Loop, Christmas Tree and Sandy Seep Trails to the junction. At the top of the Heart Trail, we hopped onto the Sunset Trail. We traversed the catwalk of the Sunset Trail to the summit of Mt. Elden, then descended the heavily switchbacked Elden Lookout Trail back to Fatman's Loop. We headed west (right) around the loop to return to our starting point for a total of 8.9 miles.