Oldham Trail is the main route for bikers and hikers to access Mount Elden from Buffalo Park. It is divided into the Upper and Lower Oldham, which each offer very different riding experiences. Lower Oldham is an undulating cruise through peaceful ponderosa forest, while Upper Oldham is a pounding ascent to the top of Mt. Elden. You can take on one or both of these routes, depending on what kind of ride you are feeling up for. Lower Oldham is accessed from Buffalo Park and leads to Upper Oldham, or you can park at the start of Upper Oldham along Elden Lookout Road.
What Makes It Great
This is one of the more popular trails in the area, but that doesn’t mean you will encounter crowds. You will probably only see two or three other people out here on most days, granting you the thrill of mountain trails in relative solitude. It is surprising that this trail isn’t more frequented, given its quality and proximity to town.
The Lower Oldham trail is the main cross-through route among the network of forest trails between Buffalo Park and Mt. Elden. Ride it as a single trail on its own or use it to connect to any number of out-and-back rides or loops. All the trails are interconnected and confined to a relatively narrow area at the base of the the mountain, so you can easily choose your own adventure without getting lost.
Upper Oldham punches up the side of Mt. Elden to link with the Sunset Trail, gaining expansive views of the backside of the mountain and leading to its summit. If you want to avoid the technical ascent and enjoy the downhill on its own, you can ride up the steep but nontechnical Elden Lookout Road then come down Upper Oldham.
Who is Going to Love It
Lower Oldham is a great ride for beginner and intermediate mountain bikers to have a great time and build skills. This trail begins the standard route for many Flagstaff locals, who start the trail from Buffalo Park and branch out to other trails from there. For advanced riders, Upper Oldham Trail offers a blood-pumping workout to pedal uphill and an adrenaline-fueled challenge to ride it back down. Hikers will also appreciate the Oldham Trails as a route to the top of Elden that is shadier and less rocky, albeit longer, than Elden Lookout Trail.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Get to Buffalo Park by taking San Francisco Street from downtown, turning right on Forest Avenue, then going to the top of the big hill and turning left at the light onto Gemini Road. This dead ends at the parking lot for Buffalo Park. Cut across the park on the Arizona Trail, which leads into the woods and down the hill to intersect with Oldham Trail. There are signs on Oldham, but they are sparse relative to the number of side trails. Just follow the widest path, trending generally toward the mountain. After about 3 miles, the trail meets with Elden Lookout Road and Brookbank Trail. From here it is much easier to follow single track to the top of the mountain.