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Dorsey Spring - Kelsey Spring Loop

Views of Sycamore canyon
Kelsey Spring
Elevation plot: Dorsey Spring - Kelsey Spring loop
map: Dorsey Spring - Kelsey Spring loop
Hiking along the Dorsey Spring trail
Dorsey Spring


How to Get There
This hike is located near Flagstaff, AZ.

To get to the trailhead: from the Flagstaff area, take HWY-66 West out of town, turning South (left) onto Woody Mt Road (FR231). This road starts off as paved. Soon after it passes over I-40, the road turns into good graded dirt. Follow this road 14 miles to FR538. Make a right turn onto FR538 and take it 5.7 miles to FR538E. At this point, the road turns a bit nasty... high clearance vehicles recommended. Turn right on FR538E and go 0.4 miles to the junction with FR538G. Turn left to stay on FR538E and go 0.4 miles to the well signed trailhead.
woody mountain road
Northern Arizona

Hike details

7.10 [Miles] Total
Hike Distance- Details
7.1 miles for the loop
3.00 [Hours]
We took about 3 hours.
Elevation Change
1,000 Total gain/loss [Feet]
Elevation Details
about 1000 ft down into Sycamore canyon and back out
Hike Trail Type
Special Features


Best Season
  • April
  • May
  • August
  • September
Date Hike completed
September 03, 2016


Solitude Details
We didn't see another hiker. Great solitude.


Difficulty Rating
difficulty detail
The loop is enjoyable. The length makes it a moderate difficulty hike.


Be Aware of
Rough roads, a bit overgrown between Dorsey and Babes Hole spring, route finding.

Hike to Dorsey spring near Flagstaff, Arizona

First I need to warn you about the drive. The road is really good until that last 0.65 miles. Drive slow and try not to puncture a tire or scrape the bottom of your automobile. After the long drive from Flagstaff, breathing in the clean air of the Sycamore Canyon wilderness area is welcome.

The well marked trailhead starts from the parking area. The trail follows an old (now closed) jeep road through a pine forest. Keep an eye out for deer here, as we spotted a few when we did this hike. After a mere 0.25 miles of hiking, you will reach a signed fork. To the left is the Hog Hill trailhead to Winter Cabin (JCT_1R on the map). We will go right here to the Dorsey Spring Trail.

For the first 1.8 miles of this hike, the elevation stays mainly flat. Afterwards, you reach the rim, which is tantalizingly out of view because of the pine trees blocking the views. Here the trail starts down a drainage and begins to quickly loose elevation. You'll drop about 600 ft of elevation in the next 0.5 miles to Dorsey Spring.

Dorsey Spring is well signed within a lovely clearing. The spring itself comes from a pipe buried in the spring. 

To continue on, now we'll take the Kelsey spring trail by staying right at the two signed trail junctions around Dorsey Spring (JCT_2R and JCT_3R on the map). This section of trail is a bit overgrown, but the lower elevation provides less obstructions for the views of Sycamore canyon. From Dorsey spring, you'll hike about 1.7 miles to the signed junction with the Kelsey Spring trail (JCT_4R). Go right here and after a few hundred yards, you'll reach peaceful Babes Hole spring. The shade of the forest returns as you climb 0.6 miles up to Kelsey Spring. This scenic spring is a bathtub sized tank in a small grassy meadow. From Kelsey spring, it is a quick 0.3 miles to the trailhead start of the Kelsey spring trail. From here, you'll be following forest roads for the final 1.7 miles to the Dorsey Spring trailhead and your car. Navigation is pretty easy, as you'll simply stay right at the next three intersections (JCT_5R, JCT_6R, and JCT_7R on the map).


Swap Start/End
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