We decided to finally take a day trip to Flagstaff (from Phoenix) to hike the trail. We arrived at 9:00 AM and hiked up for three hours without reaching the summit (or the saddle). We hike South Mountain in Phoenix often and felt we were in decent shape to hike this mountain trail. However the altitude affected my husband and shortly after reaching the 11,400 ft. mark we decided not to push any further. We were both happy with our decision to turn back when we did. The trail is strenuous both going up and coming down. It took us 5 1/2 hours to go up and back.
What we learned from our own experience and observing and talking to other hikers are: wear comfortable clothing suitable for hiking (we wore jeans which were hot and heavy), wear a good hiking shoe (we thought ours were good but wished we had heavier soles because of the tree roots and rocks on the path), and take only what you need for several hours on the mountain (we carried too many snacks, outer wear which we shed within minutes of leaving the parking lot, and more than enough fluids). The load only gets heavier the longer you hike. Many hikers were carrying much more than we were and you could tell many were struggling with their loads.
The views are spectacular as you hike the trail. We are glad we can add this trail to our list of things to do in Arizona however once is enough (particularly seeing there are still many other trails we plan on hiking). If you are looking for a quiet, peaceful, nature hike this may not be the trail for you. This is a very popular trail with several people coming and going in both directions. It was much quieter going down the mountain. We found people were friendly and enjoyed chatting with them as we passed on the trail. A final note, other than a sign marking the 11,400 ft. elevation we did not see any other signage.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.