The Keyhole Sink Trail

The Keyhole Sink Trail

September 20, 2017

Keyhole Sink Trail


About 150 miles north of Phoenix is a hike known as Keyhole Sink. It’s a few miles out of Flagstaff and it is an easy hike. From Flagstaff, There is a place to park on the left side of the road, and on the right is a gate that’s pretty easy to miss. This is where the trailhead is located.


The hike itself is perfect for any level hiker and there is almost zero elevation gain. It’s a there and back path that winds through the Kaibab National Forest and goes about a mile in until it hits its destination. Which is a very small canyon in the shape of a keyhole. IMG_2754

Upon reaching the keyhole, hikers will discover a gated fence with a small box in which you can write your name and the date that you visited.  Once you’re done signing your name, you can open the gate and enter the Keyhole Sink. Be sure to close the gate behind you when you go in and when you leave!

The Keyhole Sink is home to a ton of wildlife. It was pretty swampy, there was a small pond at the far end near the upper portion of the keyhole. Towards the lower portion and more towards the gate, the ground was pretty dry, and a little damp in places. If you like greenery, THIS IS THE PLACE TO GO.



If you like archaeology,it will be absolute favorite part about this hike. The archaeology (c’mon guys, did you really think that the Archaeologist wouldn’t find a way to sneak in something educational and Archaeology related about this hike?).

The site wasn’t really occupied, but was used by the Cohonina people. It was used as a rest stop for hunters, and some evidence suggests that it was a useful hunting tool as well. Sometimes hunters would chase a herd into the keyhole, and the heard would be trapped between the hunters and the high walls. It could have also been used for clan initiations and there are house pits located all around the area.IMG_2772IMG_2790

The coolest part is that there were some pretty awesome petroglyphs, and you can make some cool pictures. The petroglyphs are about a thousand years old. Some of the critters that you can see in these petroglyphs are lizards and deer. There are also several images that don’t quite have a distinct shape or archaeologists haven’t been able to identify them.


The bad news is that in 2010 these petroglyphs, along with the basalt walls that they were carved into, were vandalized when someone used (I’m assuming) spray paint all over them. The petroglyphs have been restored since then, but I still have a sick feeling in my stomach whenever I think about some one even being tempted to do something like that. Anyway, there was no sign of vandalism now, and you, dear reader, should be vigilant as well. Always report suspicious activity or signs of vandalism. If you’re in a national forest, such as Kaibab, your best bet is to report it to the USDA Forest Service. The best way to reach them is to look up the number of the closest ranger station OR to call this number: (800) 832-1355.


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