Hike of the Week: O’Leary Peak near Flagstaff

Mare CzinarSeptember 6, 2023
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O’Leary Peak, Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff

O’Leary Peak is a 250,000-year-old lava dome volcano that rises to 8,916 feet at the northwest edge of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. The trail up O’Leary Peak is a closed 4×4 road that’s still used by forest service workers to get to the fire lookout on the summit.  Before the road begins its winding, 1,986-foot ascent, it swings by house-high walls of inky-black basalt that mark the edge of the Bonito Lava Flow, an issue of the much younger Sunset Crater cinder cone volcano.

  • LENGTH: 10 miles round trip
  • RATING: difficult
  • ELEVATION: 6,930 – 8,916 feet
  • BEST SEASON: May – October
  • FACILITIES: none


  • In Flagstaff, take Interstate 40 east to U.S. 89 north.
  • Continue north on U.S.89 to Forest Road 545 signed for Sunset Crater National Monument just past milepost 430.
  • Turn right and continue 1.7-mile and turn left onto Forest Road 545A signed for the O’Leary Group Campground.
  • Drive a short distance past the fee area campground to the gate and signed trailhead for “O’Leary Lookout”.
  • The dirt roads are accessible by sedan