Hiking in Sedona

May 10th : Devil's Bridge & West Fork

Chuck Cattle Trail: 2.5 miles  / Devil's Bridge Trail: 2.5 miles / Dry Creek Road 1.1 miles: 6.1 Miles (961 feet elevation gained)

West Fork Trail: 7.0 miles (564 feet elevation gained)

May 14th: Dear & Doe Mountain

Bear Mountain Trail & Doe Mountain Trail + Mesa Rim Herd Path: 7.5 Miles (2,585 feet elevation gained)

May 20th: Wilson Mountain

Mount Wilson Trail: 12.0 miles (2,720 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
- This May I decided to take a trip out to Arizona.  Whitney joined me for a couple of weeks, and my roommate from my college days, Tom Diaz, joined for a few days as well.  We hiked in Sedona, Flagstaff, and the Grand Canyon.  Below is a write up of the Sedona hikes.  Flagstaff & Grand Canyon reports to follow over the next few days.

- Our first two hikes in Sedona were two of the more "touristy" ones.  First up was Devil's Bridge, the largest natural sandstone arch in Sedona, when you see it in the pictures below you'll recognize it right away, as it's one of the most heavily photographed places in Arizona.
- You have three options to get to the start of the Devil's Bridge Trail, you can park your car at a trailhead at the end of a paved section of Dry Creek Road and hike the road, which becomes a 4X4 road, a mile to the trailhead.  If you prefer a quieter and more scenic approach from the trailhead, hike the Chuck Cattle Trail for 2.5 miles.  For a more thrilling trek, you can attempt to drive there if you have a high clearance vehicle and want to beat the living crap out of it.
- We decided on hiking the Chuck Cattle Trail in and the road on the way out.  The Chuck Cattle Trail is the way to go because it's pretty, but the entertainment you get from watching vehicles maneuver over a rutted out road, some which have no right driving over this stuff, is very exciting and cringe-worthy to watch! 
- As for the Devil's Bridge Trail, it's an easy and gradual approach with a steep last few tenths of a mile up to the bridge.  Unless you get there very early in the morning or late in the evening expect to see a lot of people milling around.  Luckily for us it wasn't too crowded and we were able to take our picture on the bridge without waiting.
-  We also did a little exploring above the bridge, following a well established herd path to a really cool boulder where there was a great view, and we also explored below the bridge, which gave us a unique perspective of it while we stood directly beneath it.
-  After spending about a half hour below, on, and above Devil's Bridge we headed back to the trailhead via the 4X4 road, watching a few Jeep tours drive by, and a couple in a truck almost bottom out then tip over on a nasty stretch of the road!
- When we finished our hike we got a yummy meal at Javelina Cantina in town before going on our next hike along the West Fork Trail.
- West Fork Trail is touted to be one of the best trails in Arizona and one of the top 10 trails in the United States.  So we were pumped to be hiking it, and better yet it wasn't crowded since it was a little later in the day.  It travels along the river at the bottom Oak Creek Canyon as the canyon walls rise high and steeply above.  The trail crosses the river around thirteen times, most are easy rock hops, but after heavy rains these would become tricky, tough, and even dangerous.
- It was a nice scenic hike, but I wouldn't call it a top ten trail in the U.S., maybe top ten trail in Sedona, as it left us expecting a little more, but still a nice way to spend a few hours of hiking.  I will say, it would probably be a really great hike in the fall when the leaves change color.
-  One of the more exciting parts of the hike was about a quarter of a mile from the trailhead are the remains of Mayhew’s Oak Creek Lodge.  Very little remains, an old fireplace, a chicken coop, and a few other crumbling structures.  Decades upon decades ago this was a spot where celebrities would head to to get away from it all, apparently Clark Gable was extremely fond of the lodge and surrounding area.

- Our next day hiking in Sedona, Whitney and I headed to Bear and Doe Mountain, which we really enjoyed thoroughly.  The trail up to the ridge is very steep and rugged for the first mile, it's not to be taken lightly as there are some spots where the trail is loose and rocky, however if you take your time and watch your step it's very fun and the views are great.  Once gaining the ridge, the trail becomes easier as it heads over four false summits until it ends near the summit of Bear Mountain at a sign that says "End of Trail."
- Views along the ridge are tremendous as the trail heads through different types of layers and colors of rock which drop down into Fay Canyon.
- Once back at the trailhead we headed up Doe Mountain, it's a short climb up to the mesa, where we hiked along the rim using different herd paths.  Doe Mountain is one of those hikes where you get tremendous views with very little effort, excellent hike for beginners and families.
- After the hike we took a stroll up and down the main drag in Sedona and poked our heads in a few shops.  Sedona is known for it's Vortexes, if you are unaware, a vortex is believed to be a special spot on the earth where energy is either entering into the earth or projecting out of the earth’s plane.  The shops in Sedona take full advantage of this as the sell tourists crystals, incense, and other spiritual trinkets.  Unfortunately for these shop owners, I stopped believing in vortexes around the age of eight, two years after I stopped believing in Santa at age six, and ten years before I stopped believing in the Easter Bunny at age eighteen. :)

 - Our last hike in Sedona was Wilson Mountain, which is the highest point in Sedona at 7,045 feet.  We hiked the Wilson Mountain Trail #151, this trail leaves from Midgley Bridge and ascends the mountain from the southern side.  The parking area is small and is really popular so get there early to secure a spot.  If there are no spaces you can hike in from the northern side of Wilson Mountain via the North Wilson Trail #123, which leaves from Encinoso parking area (I think).
- The trail from Midgley bridge has easy to moderate grades over rugged footing for the first three miles until it reaches a beautiful plateau called First Bench.
-  The views over these three miles are pretty spectacular throughout most of the hike, it's a can't miss hike if you're in the area.
- From First Bench, the trail then travels through oak and pine up to a junction, head left for a quick hike, about a half mile, to a beautiful outlook overlooking Sedona, head right for a long walk, about a mile and a half, to an outlook overlooking Vultee Arch / Oak Creek Canyon.  In my opinion, head to the Sedona outlook and skip the canyon outlook, the mile and a half walk along the plateau is not too thrilling, lots of dead trees and scrubby stunted new growth.
- We really timed this hike perfectly as there were dozens of small flowers blooming along the side of the trail, pictured below.
- So that ended our hiking trips in Sedona.  It's a really beautiful spot, with plenty of hiking options, and we only scratched the surface.  Also, if you are into 4X4ing or mountain biking there is plenty to explore too.  The drive from Flagstaff dropping down into Oak Creek Canyon is pretty freaking cool too, expect some minor delays during the week to major delays when driving into Sedona on the weekends, so get an early start!

Whitney & I on Devil's Bridge 

One of the most captured photographs in Sedona.  Devil's Bridge and the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness

We hiked to the cool looking rock, shaped thousands of years ago by wind and rain

Another view of the rock

 Looking up at Devil's Bridge

Standing beneath it is even cooler than standing on it!

One last view from below

Chicken Coop along the West Fork Trail, remnants from Mayhew’s Oak Creek Lodge

The West Fork travels along the side of the river and crosses it over a dozen times

 The end of the official trail.  From here hearty hikers can walk on and off through the water for several miles to campsite

Hiking up to Bear Mountain there are great views all around 

 Looking down into Fay Canyon

Hiking up to the Doe Mountain's mesa

Bear Mountain as seen from Doe Mountain Trail

 Looking down into western Sedona from Doe Mountain

Hiking up the Wilson Mountain Trail to First Bench

Looking across Wilson Canyon from the Wilson Mountain Trail

Looking to the southeast towards the Munds Mountain Wilderness

View from Wilson's summit (top).  View of the Munds Mountains (below)

The Sedona outlook on Wilson Mountain is a great place to stop and stare for several minutes!

Bird's eye view of some pretty awesome rock cliff formations 

 View from the northern outlook from Wilson Mountain

There were so many tiny flowers blooming along the trail

Plenty of bees buzzing around flower to flower as we traveled by the dozens of flowers

We could smell the flowers as we passed by them, which was a welcome relief to the usual desert dusty smell :)


  1. So beautiful ! Thanks for the write up. Some where to visit in the future for sure ! Wendy

  2. It's a really cool place. All sorts of different kinds of hiking trails for all levels, plus a nice little quirky town to walk around. :)