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Gloria's is an extensive maze of boulders and low cliffs of dacite at the foot of Mount Elden, intertwined with caves and surrounded by a cool ponderosa forest. It's a popular quick hit for locals due to its short approach and easy access from downtown Flagstaff. It's also popular among hikers, bikers, dog-walkers, high school kids, and people between homes. Many boulders are conveniently identified by their graffiti.
The area was largely established by local hardpeople (including Bob Murray) in the 1980s, with waves of further development through the years. Problems are generally thin and technical, with a good mix of old-school moderates and crimpy testpieces, though several bold modern lines exist. The Elden dacite, a silicic volcanic rock reminiscent of slick granite, is notoriously rough on the hands. A lot of the problems are quite tall and landings range from perfect to horrendous. Many little-trafficked topropes and free solos exist on the cliffbands and larger boulders.
Gloria's is best in the spring and fall, but it is easy to chase shade in the summer, and many of the problems outside the caves dry quickly in the winter.
From downtown Flagstaff: Take San Francisco St. north through downtown until it intercepts Forest Ave. Make a right on Forest, pass Buffalo Park on the left (here Forest Ave. turns into Cedar), then make a left on West St. (there is a stoplight with a Safeway shopping center here.) Turn left on Paradise Rd. and park at the end of the cul-de-sac, careful not to block any driveways or mailboxes. Walk through the fence and navigate the maze of trails, trending generally toward the base of Mt. Elden. Look for a silver metal pipe sticking out of the ground that marks a trail straight to the boulders. Approach about 5 minutes.
Accessing the boulders from Buffalo Park is your next best option, though it will increase the approach time to fifteen minutes. It is however, a more scenic approach.
From Buffalo Park, take the center trail (Arizona Trail) through the park heading north. Eventually you will pass a well house where the trail bends slightly NE. Continue following this trail out of the park and into the National Forest lands where eventually you will hit the Pipeline Trail which is a wide fire break with trails on either side. Keep following the same trail you have been on, crossing the Pipeline Trail and soon enough you will be at Gloria’s.
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