SP Crater Trail
While most hikers are exploring the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, a ways outside of the park bounds is the SP Crater Trail, a lesser-known and lesser-explored crater hike with views that are just as impressive. This is a hike that toes the line between moderate and hard because of its rocky, rugged trail. While it might not be a fit for kids or beginners, adventurous hikers will love the remote feel of this one. Expect light traffic.
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Route Description for SP Crater Trail
Northern Arizona, particularly the Flagstaff area, has an interesting volcanic past. Remnants of this past are evident in the volcanic rocks, craters, and volcanic mountains that dot the area. The SP Crater Trail explores a huge volcanic crater. Where does “SP” come from? Well, cowboys used to think the crater looked like a sh*t pot because of the dried lava flow spilling out… Yeah, you can be the judge of that.
This hike is rugged and somewhat challenging. It’s loose, rocky, steep in parts, and lined by thorny bushes. If you can deal with those aspects, you’ll enjoy one of the most impressive crater hikes in the area. Because of the rough nature of volcanic rock, sturdy boots are recommended. You may also want to bring poles for this hike due to the loose, steep nature of the ascent.
The route begins from the side of the dirt road. Hike south towards the saddle between the crater and the lava flow, which you’ll ascend. There is a trail that goes up to the crater rim, but be aware that it’s even rockier and rougher up there. Take in the views from the saddle. The route goes off the other side of the crater to the road before turning around, but you can turn around from the saddle if you want to skip this extra distance.
Insider Hints for SP Crater Trail
- While there’s no official checkpoint, you’ll technically need an AZ Land Trust Permit to hike this trail.
Getting to the SP Crater Trail Trailhead
The trailhead for the SP Crater Trail is on a side road off US-89.
SP Crater Trail Elevation Graph
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SP Crater Trail Reviews
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