Sedona Hike Wilson Mountain Trail

Sedona Hike Wilson Mountain Trail

Wilson Mountain Trail

Welcome to The Big Hike!…Wilson takes you to the highest point in Sedona and provides the most dynamic panoramic views in the area. In order to get to this point you must put in the work. Wilson climbs over 2500 feet in just 4.5 miles (9 miles round-trip). This trail takes you through two distinctly different environments. The first part of the trail take you through a rough desert environment featuring low growth junipers, manzanita, prickly pear cactus and Parry Agave then past the “first bench” into a coniferous forest featuring a variety of large pines and oak trees. Don’t miss the views of San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff as you make your way up the side of Wilson after the “first bench.” San Francisco Peaks hold considerable religious significance to numerous American Indian Tribes in the area.

Wilson Mountain Trail is a 10.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Sedona, Arizona that features a great forest setting and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.

Wilson Mountain is 7,122 feet tall and named after Richard Wilson. Richard Wilson was a bear hunter who was killed by a grizzly in 1885. His body was found in Wilson Canyon, which is also named after him. This is the tallest mountain around Sedona, Arizona. The trail to the summit leads to an absolute killer-view of Sedona and far beyond, of Oak Creek, and even of the San Fransisco Peaks. The hike has two parts: Part 1 goes up to the First Bench. This can be done from Midgely Bridge (most exposed, but most scenic) and from Encinoso Picknick Area., also called North Trail. Part 2 goes from 1 bench to the Sedona Lookout. If you start out late, or loose your wind, only going up to 1st bench is well worth the effort. But the Sedona Lookout is unsurpassed, as you can see! A stunning, vertical drop of several hundred feet straight down, looking right into the famed red-rock stone sculptings of Sedona. Absolutely amazing.

Although hot and at least moderately strenuous, well worth the time.

Sedona HIke Bear Mountain Trail

Sedona HIke Bear Mountain Trail

Bear Mountain Trail

Ready for a challenge? This is one of Sedona’s steep and difficult hikes. The trail is considered difficult due to its terrain, elevation and ability to navigate. Known for its difficulty, it is also known for its spectacular views that only get better the higher you ascend. If you are up for the challenge then you will be rewarded with incredible 360°views of Sedona and San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff. From the trailhead this hike looks deceptively easy—however, you are only seeing 1/3 of the trail. The trail is made up of a series of plateaus that take you higher and further than what meets the eye. Note: This is a difficult hike and not meant for novice hikers. Proper gear, footwear and hydration is highly recommended.

Bear Mountain Trail is a 4.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Sedona, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.

This is a strenuous trail not suited for many hikers. It is in the desert sun with no water along the trail. The difficulty that arises is that there are so many of them and you must travel so high, that it can easily wear down a hiker.

The hike is a five mile round trip with a vertical climb of 2000 feet from the creek bed to the true peak (as measured on USGS Topographic Maps). If you decide to take this trail you need to leave early in the morning and plan for an all day hike. Take lots and lots of water (1 gallon per hiker) and energy bars, along with hiking boots, sunscreen and a wide brim hat. A hiking stick or stabilization will also be of help.

One of the confusing factors that hikers may encounter is that it appears the end of the trail has moved. The “True” peak on the old USFS map (red map below) is actually north of the left fork of Boynton Canyon. This is confirmed on Typographic maps with an elevation of over 6560 feet. However, the new USGS map shows the trail end at a peak below the secondary peak which is at the west side of the left fork of Boynton Canyon (Blue USGS map to right). Currently, there is a Trail End sign at the trail peak (elevation over 6440 feet). The trail to the true peak is too poorly marked with many false trails to go further than the peak where the trail officially ends (as of 2016).

Sedona Hike Brins Mesa Trail

Sedona Hike Brins Mesa Trail

Brins Mesa Trail

Beneath the highest structure in Sedona, lies an exquisite trail that takes you up 500 feet to a mesa overlooking Wilson Mountain, Mormon Canyon and Soliders Pass. This is a great trail when town is in full season. The parking and trailhead are located in a secluded area behind uptown.

How have I missed this all these years? That’s what you’ll think within the first 71 seconds of hiking the Brins Mesa Trail. Not only because of the surrounding beauty, but also because it’s so easy to get to. For a few lucky Sedonans, one of the trailheads is right out the back door. For everyone else, it’s just a few blocks from the pink jeeps and turquoise jewelers.

Before you get started, you should know there are two established trailheads for this hike. The most accessible is the Jim Thompson Trailhead — the one that’s so close to the strip. The alternative is out on Vultee Arch Road. If your SUV has wings or extremely high clearance, that trailhead is an option. Otherwise, take the easy route. You can navigate it with a Mini Cooper, and the hike is equally impressive from either end.

From the parking lot on the Thompson side, the trail hops up and over a small embankment and immediately passes two other trails (Jordan and Cibola Pass). The intersection is well marked. Keep right for Brins Mesa, which begins as an easy walk through manzanitas and junipers. Sedona red is all around, without any signs of civilization. Even the traffic noise disappears. It’s a lovely loneliness.

The trail points north at this point, and after about five minutes, it crosses into the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness. There are certain responsibilities that come with hiking in these areas, including the principles of Leave No Trace. Please be responsible. A little farther up the trail, you’ll see what happens when you’re not.

The trail stays about the same — rocks and trees — for the next 20 minutes. That’s when the hike heads west and launches into the only significant ascent. There aren’t any switchbacks. Just a natural rock staircase that winds upward. Along the way, there are several points that invite you to stop, turn around and look around. Do so.

Ten minutes later, you’ll arrive on the mesa and see the effects of irresponsibility. The Brins Fire, which scorched 4,000 acres on and around the mesa, was ignited by an illegal, unattended campfire on June 18, 2006. Most of the trees on the mesa were lost, and their descendants won’t be back for many decades. It’s a drag. That said, the grass that moved in makes a gorgeous placeholder, especially in the morning. This time of year, that’s when you’ll want to hike Brins Mesa, and if you can time your arrival to see the sunrise from up on the mesa … well, it’s very beautiful.

From the top, the literal high point of the hike (5,099 feet), you’ll begin a gradual descent that offers long views in every direction. You’ll see Soldier Pass to the left, and up ahead, more trees — the fire line is obvious.

At the 50-minute mark, you’ll intersect the Soldier Pass Trail and begin a steep drop. It’s short, about 100 yards, and when the trail hits the bottom, it leaves the wilderness area and enters a good-sized wash. The forest is thicker down there, and some of the trees are unexpectedly big. One of the biggest isn’t around anymore, but the stump that remains can attest to the tree’s Bunyanesque heyday.

Just beyond the big stump, the trail crosses the wash, crosses again, and crosses once more before arriving at a large, flat rock, about the size of a Whole Foods’ produce department. The trail then parallels the wash, going back and forth for most of the rest of the hike — beware of flash floods, especially during monsoon season.

A few minutes later, you’ll pass through a fence and begin the 200-yard home stretch to the the trailhead on Vultee Arch Road. You probably won’t see anyone when you get there, but if you do, it’s a good bet their SUV has extremely high clearance. Or maybe a set of wings.


Sedona Hike Mescal Trail

Sedona Hike Mescal Trail

Originally a bike trail, this trails starts out a little slow as it meanders across a low growth forest. Be patient…it gets much better. At 1.0 mile the trail rises up and around a ridge that takes you into a spectacular Red Rock “bowl” beneath Mescal Mountain. This alcove provides big panoramic views of Secret Mountain Wilderness and clear across Sedona to Courthouse Butte in the distance. The trail exits “the bowl” and leads you through a spectacular Red Rock corridor eventually connecting to Dead Man’s Pass Trail. Additional options include: a) connecting to Long Canyon via Deadman’s Pass b) connecting to Boynton Canyon via Deadman’s Pass.

Mescal Mountain Trail is a 5.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Sedona, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

The southeast end of Mescal Trail is accessed from the Long Canyon trailhead. You’ll get your blood pumping right away to get up the initial climb. It’s short, rocky, and quickly changes back to rolling trail.

The trail tops out and then travels toward Mescal Mountain, a gigantic red sandstone butte. The meat of the route is a traverse on the southern side along a long continuous slickrock ledge.

After some smooth red dirt, there’s one big push onto the first section of slickrock. Once on the sandstone surface you’ll hike along a fairly level elevation, occasionally going up down or around short sections of steps or boulders.

As Mescal Trail rounds the butte on the west end, the view becomes breathtaking into Boynton Canyon. Take in the scenery before a descent to the end of the trail. Turn right here to access Deadmans Pass, or bear left to connect to Aerie.

Hike in Sedona to Deadmans Pass Trail

Hike in Sedona to Deadmans Pass Trail

Deadman’s Pass is a splendid, easy hiking trail that provides excellent views as you pass between Boynton and Mescal Mountain. This trail also serves as an excellent “connector” trail between Boynton Canyon, Long Canyon and Mescal Trail. While most will begin the trail at the Boynton Canyon Road trailhead, there is an option of parking on Long Canyon Road and taking either the Long Canyon Trail to Deadman’s Pass or my preference is taking Mescal Trail to Deadman’s Pass. During the busy times of the year it can be difficult to find parking at Boynton since that trailhead is parking for multiple trails.

Deadman’s Pass Trail is a 2.6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Sedona, Arizona that offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

The route is fairly flat from the Boynton Canyon trailhead and climbs gradually past the intersection with Mescal. The trail is wider and mostly sand with some rocky and short climbs before it descends to Long Canyon Trail.



Sedona Hiking Cowpies Trail

Sedona Hiking Cowpies Trail

Cow Pies Trail is one of the oldest hiking trails in the Sedona Red Rock Country used by early settlers (late 1800’s and 1900’s) to transport produce and livestock to market in Flagstaff. The trail drops down into Bear Wallow Canyon and traverses the creek several times. You will find that the creek is often dry throughout the summer months but springs to life with numerous waterfalls during summer monsoons and late spring snow melts off the Mogollon Rim.

As you make your way up 2/3 of the canyon you will come upon Cow Pies Trail. Cow Pies is considered a major vortex site in the area and gives you the impression that you have just landed on Mars. Continue along the ridge into the Mitten Ridge Saddle for spectacular views of Oak Creek Canyon and Midgley Bridge.

Cow Pies and Hangover Loop Trail is a 8.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Sedona, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

The trailhead is across the road from the parking area. You’ll pass through an area of small black rocks, which are pieces of lava. Sometimes you’ll find these rocks placed in the shape of a medicine wheel. You’ll make a left turn to go to the cow pies. If you go straight, you’ll be hiking the Hangver Trail. As you continue to the left, you’ll hike up on the “cow pies” which are very large circular red rock formations. There isn’t a defined trail so you’ll be free to explore the “cowpies.” Some believe this area has an abundance of vortex energy.


Sedona Hike to Palatki Heritage Site

Sedona Hike to Palatki Heritage Site

Palatki is one of the two largest cliff dwelling sites in the Red Rock Country belonging to the Sinagua. The Sinaguaare thought to be connected to the Hopi Indian Tribe who took advantage of the south facing cliffs when they built their shelters. (In the summer they a shaded for the sun overhead and in the winter are warmed by the sun low on the horizon) While there is much evidence of the Sinagua civilization (pottery, pictographs, farming) from 1150-1300 A.D., there is also evidence (abstract drawings and symbols) from Archaic cultures dating back 3000-6000 years earlier.

Palatki Heritage Site is a 0.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Sedona, Arizona that offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is accessible year-round.

Palatki Heritage Site is located in Red Rock Country and is protected by the U.S. Forest Service. This site offers GUIDED TOURS of cliff dwellings left behind by the Sinagua Culture as well as magnificent petroglyphs and pictographs. Visitors will be accompanied on site by trained volunteer tour guides.

Visitors are strongly encouraged to call ahead to make reservations. Due to site limitations, entrance can not guaranteed without a reservation.The number for reservations is: 928-282-3854. Palatki Heritage Site hours are as follows: 9:30AM-3:00PM, every day of the week. Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are the only regularly scheduled closing days. Admission is by: Red Rock Pass, National Park Pass, or Golden Age Pass.

Since the roads to Palatki are unpaved, extreme weather might dictate closing of the site. Visitors would be wise to be aware of the weather conditions and if doubtful, to call ahead and confirm.

Sedona Hiking Fay Canyon Trail

Sedona Hiking Fay Canyon Trail

Fay Canyon is a great trail for the whole family. Unlike many trails that require you to go “down, across and up” numerous arroyos (dry creeks), Fay Canyon is actually relatively flat. It is one of those trails that starts out good and keeps getter better that further you make your way back into this box canyon. The high red rock cliff walls coupled with the large oak and juniper trees make this a great trail year-round.

Fay Canyon is a favorite hike for many who prefer a shorter hike with minimal elevation gain or who enjoy the grandeur of red sandstone walls towering overhead. Some people visit Fay Canyon to see the natural arch located just under a half mile up the trail. Those who don’t know about it usually walk right past. Though the Fay Canyon Arch is by no means small, it looks so much like an ordinary rock overhang, it’s easy to glance right at it and not realize what you’ve seen. If you keep watching the rock wall to the north (right) side of the trail sooner or later you’ll spot it.

This small, hidden canyon supports a diverse community of desert plants and provides good views of the surrounding cliffs. It dead ends at a red Supai sandstone cliff. Throughout Fay Canyon you can marvel at the breathtaking scenery that surrounds you.


Hiking in Sedona at Boynton Canyon Trail

Hiking in Sedona at Boynton Canyon Trail

Boynton Canyon Trail is a stunning hike through a picturesque canyon that moves you through a varied landscape. Make no mistake the real gem of this trail is found in the final 1/3 of the hike as you enter a high forest with large pines, oaks and even alligator junipers. The first 2/3 of the trail are really just a “means to the end” as you make your way through low growth scrub forest and along the east side of Enchantment Resort. As you hike this trail you will notice a stark contrast in temperatures as you leave the low growth, open red rocks in the first 2/3 and enter “the forest” and rise in elevation. The trail ends in grand fashion as it rises up and crescendos onto a quasi-plateau above tree tops.

Boynton Canyon Trail is a 6.1 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Sedona, Arizona that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Boynton Canyon is one of the popular trails in Sedona. If you like red rocks this would be one of the perfect hikes. Great views!

The trail is great for hiking and normally takes a half day.

One of the “votex” points in Sedona, Boynton Canyon is popular for both locals and visitors.

Boynton Canyon is one of the most scenic of the box canyons that make Arizona Red Rock Country so famous. This particular trail enjoys the additional advantage of being conveniently accessible to nearby towns on well paved roads. As you might suspect, that is both good and bad news for those who choose to come here. The good news is you don’t have to bounce down a dusty jeep track to get to the trailhead. The bad news is you may have more company than you hoped for when you arrive.

Boynton Canyon always has been popular for its outstanding scenery. Lately it has become even more so, since it developed a reputation as a site of a spiritual energy vortex. Whether or not you follow this belief, you’ll no doubt agree the beauty found among these towering buttes, crimson cliffs, and natural desert gardens is divine.

The trail starts out by skirting a luxury resort that was recently built here. It quickly returns to the canyon floor where the walking is pleasant and easy. As you hike, take note of the variety of plants that live in this rather harsh environment, and keep an eye out for the area’s plentiful wildlife which includes everything from colorful songbirds to bristling, shy whitetail deer.