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Soldier Pass Trail #66 - Sedona, AZ

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Guide 110 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Sedona > Sedona NW
3.7 of 5 by 32
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,400 feet
Elevation Gain 499 feet
Accumulated Gain 585 feet
Avg Time One Way 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.95
Interest Seasonal Creek
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25  2019-06-01
Wilson Mountain Loop
16  2019-06-01
Wilson Mountain Loop
8  2019-05-13 azsunshine
19  2018-12-27
Brins Mesa Trail #119
24  2018-12-24
Brins Mesa-Soldier Pass-Cibola Loop
18  2018-11-03
Sedona Arches
7  2018-11-03
Brins Mesa Trail #119
5  2018-07-26 caragruey
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Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,256 map ( 21,429 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Preferred   Mar, May, Sep, Oct → 9 AM
Seasons   Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:11am - 6:31pm
Official Route
13 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Triple Blockbuster Perks!
by joebartels

Likely In-Season!
FS Overview
This trail provides a diverse experience beginning in an urban setting and eventually leads into Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness, increasing the potential for solitude. The first half of this trail is often busy and there is jeep tour traffic nearby. Enter at the signed trailhead which is open only from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The trail dips to cross a wash then climbs out to the Devils Kitchen sinkhole just off the trail to the right at 1/4 miles. The trail then goes over level ground for 1/4 mile to the "Seven Sacred Pools" to the left of the trail.

It continues on in the partial shade of Arizona cypress and intersects the end of a jeep road at 1.2 miles. The trail forks at the wilderness area boundary sign 1/8 mile further on. The right branch leads up rather steeply for 1/4 mile to cave like arches. Great views. The left branch is the main trail. This leads out of the wash on a moderate grade. Most of the shade is lost, but the views open up. The trail becomes increasingly steep and rocky as it climbs to the pass. Nearing 2 miles, it levels out on top of Brins Mesa, then continues for another 1/4 miles where it intersects Brins Mesa trail. Ultimately, scenic vistas can be enjoyed south into Sedona and north into the wilderness and the red cliffs of the Mogollon Rim. Return by the same route for a 4 mile round trip hike.

The description below was written before much of anything official existed.

Nestled between Brin's Mesa and Capitol Butte Soldier Pass is tourist central. Jeep tours, about a million a day comb the area. Okay maybe less, but I guarantee you will see a few. This is also a very popular mountain bike trail. So needless to say you will be sharing the trail. Two reasons this trail gets high use is the location and the perks. The trailhead is literally in a neighborhood.

From the trailhead check out all the signage information. Start hiking and before you know it the first perk opens up out of nowhere. A hundred foot wide and fifty foot deep sinkhole opens up. Formed in the 1880's this sinkhole is amazing due to the shear vertical rock walls. A tall pine tree sits at the bottom giving away its age. Be careful here. Continue hiking, soon you will encounter several natural inline pools cascading down a drainage. These pools would be an awesome site with running water. I have yet to witness such.

Continue the hike and enjoy the area. Near the mile and a quarter mark the jeep road ends at the wilderness boundary. The trail continues through a shallow winding ravine. When you reach a fork take the right option to head on up to the arches. At the same fork a left will take you up to Brin's Mesa. You have great views and the option of extending the hike.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2000-09-11 joebartels
  • wilderness related
  • Soldier Pass Trail #66 Map
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    Soldier Pass Trail #66 Map
  • Sedona Trails 2018
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    Sedona Trails 2018

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 25 deeper Triplog Reviews
Soldier Pass Trail #66 - Sedona
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Took a small group to hike Soldiers Pass Trail. We got a late start having hiked Devil's Bridge in the morning and stopped for lunch in Sedona. We were fortunate to get a parking spot at the trailhead. The lot was very small and the only reason we found a spot was likely due to the rainy weather. The gate was scheduled to close at 6 pm so we had limited time to hike this trail.

Before we even left the trailhead it started to rain so we donned our rain gear before starting out. This ended up being a good decision because by the end of the hike the light drizzle turned into a substantial downpour.

Due to the late arrival and the fact that the gate was closing soon we did not anticipate making it all the way to Soldiers Arch but did hope to see both Devil's Kitchen and the Seven Sacred Pools. We hoped the pools would be full of water from the recent rain which is apparently an unusual sight.

We reached Devil's Kitchen very quickly, about 5 minutes after starting out. There was a Jeep tour group seeing the same sites along the trail. We would find ourselves meeting this same Jeep tour several times along the way, it seems they do not make much better time than hikers on foot.

We continued on and the trail was mostly level although there were some sections of sloped smooth rock that was somewhat slippery in the rain. One section of the trail that we passed was clearly a route for water drainage and had been recently active. We arrived at the seven sacred pools about 20 minutes into the hike. At the same time as our arrival the volume of rainfall increased considerably.

The seven sacred pools were full of muddy water from the previous rains and as we stood there watching, began to run with the rain water draining off the nearby slopes. It was a treat to see them both full and running! At this point the rain was getting quite heavy and we were running out of time before the gate was closed so we turned back and returned to the trailhead.

The return trip was by and large uneventful and we made it back to the small parking lot without issue. We did run into another group that had hiked around the whole loop in the area and were trying to return to the larger parking lot. We handed off our maps to help them get back as we were finished hiking for the day. Next time we will have to arrive earlier so we can make it all the way to Soldier's Arch.

A video of the hike can be found here:
[ youtube video ]
A link to downloadable maps can be found here: ... JOViteQywE

Soldier Pass Trail #66 - Sedona
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The century plants were in glorious bloom through the hike, with the best example right in the parking lot at the Jordan Road Trailhead. (As it is referred to on Google Maps; signage at the trailhead refers to it as the Jim Thompson Trailhead.) After taking a few pictures, I headed out, hiking clockwise.

After a brief misdirection on Jordan Trail, I got on Cibola Pass Trail. The “pass” itself, is barely 125 ft. above surrounding terrain. (Which makes the saddle behind my house look like the Khyber Pass.) The most mitten-like view of The Mitten, came very quickly, while still on its easterly side, before reaching the top of Cibola Pass.

The best views of Morning Glory Spire some as Cibola Pass Trail reconnects to Jordan Trail, where the route crosses slickrock as it approaches the Devils Kitchen Sinkhole. Even when on normal dirt trail, other than a few century plants, flowers were quite rare.

After checking out the sinkhole, I made my first planned diversion, heading west on Teacup Trail, which starts as jeep trail. According to the map, Teacup heads southwest, fairly straight for a half mile before Skidmark Trail splits off from it. Instead, Teacup was perhaps the twistiest trail I’ve ever been on. Given all the mountain bike tracks, Teacup had obviously been rerouted and optimized for MTBs. (More twists = more gradual elevation gain.) It was actually a mile to reach the intersection, which is located at a small boulder pile. Skidmark Trail is not obvious, but it is there. You just have to look close. As the views of Coffee Pot Rock were no better up close, and time was a factor, I headed back to Devils Kitchen.

Whereas from Teacup, Coffee Pot looks just the face of a cliff, from Soldier Pass Trail, it instead looks like a series of tilting dominoes. You can see Coffee Pot is composed of four or five separate spires.

The most scenic part of Soldier Pass Trail is the Seven Sacred Pools, a series of pothole cascades in a short gulley worn through the slickrock. The water was not flowing, but lining the Seven Sacred Pools up with Coffee Pot Rock makes for a great photograph, if shot in vertical mode. (As I found on Google image search, I was not the only one to have this realization.)

Just before the trail begins climbing to the top of Soldier Pass, I instead turned up a side trail towards the Soldier Pass Arches. Soon after that, I bailed. I was close to the arches, but keeping an eagle eye on my time, and it was getting short. I had started at about 7:40 a.m., with a hard end-ex of 12:15 p.m. It was already 10:50 a.m. and I had almost three miles to go.

I soon connected to Brins Mesa Trail, and booked across Brin Mesa’s burn area. Most of the trees were killed off in 2006, while the shrubbery have recovered, but the few survivors provided welcome relief. (The temp when I started was a pleasant 75, with a high -- at 3pm -- of 92 predicted, but it was already around 95!)

The descent down Brin Mesa’s east slope is across a half mile of steep slick rock, before re-entering the tree line. With .75 miles to go, I took another quick break, texting ahead to my always patient wife to let her know I would be back at the Jordan Road Trailhead in about 15 minutes. In the end, it took my old ass about 20 minutes, despite what felt like hauling ass. I arrived about 12:25, had a quick pee, rehydrated, threw my gear in the back, and off we flew to our lunch date up Oak Creek Canyon at Indian Gardens.

Hike Video: [ youtube video ]

Could count 'em on one hand.
Soldier Pass Trail #66 - Sedona
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Sedona Hiking
Made a trip up to Sedona for some hiking. On Friday morning we hiked the Munds Wagon, Cowpies, and Hangover loop with a side trip to Merry Go Round. After reading several triplogs from others on HAZ this loop moved it's way up the list and it did not disappoint. Hard to believe this is so close to town. Hangover Trail is one fun trail :D I also enjoyed climbing up around on the Merry Go Round. Since we finished early we decided to add in the Arches off the Soldier Pass Trail. On the way back to the truck we crossed paths with a wedding party, who were headed out presumable for pictures. Offered our congrats as we went by.

On Saturday morning we hiked up Bear Mountain. I REALLY enjoyed this hike. It had everything you could want in a hike, and the views, WOW, I was grinning from ear-to-ear the entire hike. I could kick myself for waiting so long to do this hike but it has already been added to the repeat list. Great weekend :y:
Soldier Pass Trail #66 - Sedona
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Was planning on hiking to Vultee Arch. However, I hurt my knee yesterday and decided to do an easier hike.

We where gonna hike it from 89A. which I considered too steep given my injury. But I recalled seeing a picture of Morning Glory Spire and recalled it was off the Soliders Pass Trail. So on the drive north to Sedona we decided to do Soldiers Pass instead and link three trails together to create a loop. Soldiers pass to Brins Mesa to Jordan trail and then back to the car. The hike was super easy and we made a ton of side excursions. I turned off the GPS during those as to not interfere with the track. We hiked the 5.97 miles in about two and a half hours. This included all the times we hiked off the trail for fun. It doesn't include the hour and 15 minutes it took us to hike/climb to the top of morning glory spire.

I wasn't sure how to get up there so we scrambled from behind the sinkhole. It was pretty painless, We spent some time route finding etc. Pretty much hike up from behind the sinkhole, continuing up but trying to head to the northeast side. From their its a scramble uphill (This was the only sketchy part IMO.) Once your basically at the base you need to climb down to get to get around the corner to climb up. I should have taken pictures to help with the approach. From there its pretty easy climbing. I had a harder time hiking up the hill with all the loose rocks. Tons of what looked like rabbit poop everywhere. Curious to know if its from a rabbit or something else.

The hike was fun, probably worth repeating when there is a higher chance of water. The only part of the hike I didn't like was the Jordan trail. Too close to powerlines, houses, and the road. However, the rest of the hike was fun. Morning Glory was a nice add-on. I'm not even sure if I hiked/climb to the top correctly, but it made for a little added excitement. All I can add is that If your comfortable climbing 5.0-5.4 you should have no problem getting to the top. I personally think its hard class 4 but there was a few awkward moves to get on top.
Soldier Pass Trail #66 - Sedona
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Morning Glory - Sterling Loop
Finally got a loop around Wilson. jj felt a little uneasy driving up noticing I was wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt. "Off trail on this hike?"... no worse, the overnight low is 31 :scared:

55 degrees starting just before 9am and not much over 60 all day. Hiking weather.

Saw a few individuals heading over Wilson Bench. First time on Jim Thompson. Nice, nearby trails are nicer. Cibola is one of the nicest non water trails around Sedona.

Up and down MG Spire in 1h 15m at a nothing special pace. Couldn't clear the first pitch last month due to a chest injury earlier in the month. Healthy made all the difference. The first pitch was no trouble up or down. The slant up higher was as I remembered. First look it appears a bit sketchy. One or two steps into it and it seems impossible to have trouble unless you jumped out of the crack and off the wall.

Sink hole, seven super sacred pools then off to the arches. Morning light was the ticket last month. Just fair this round, almost dark inside mid day. Crossed paths with a group of interesting people, really just wanted to keep

First time on the west side of Brins. Most probably like the red rock east but the west is cypress tree canopy. A pleasant surprise. Up Vultee and down Sterling. The scariest part of the hike was the last mile along the highway. No shoulder and cars whizzing by ultra close.

not much, very isolated
Soldier Pass Trail #66 - Sedona
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Soldier - Brins - Cibola - Jordan Loop
Our fourth and final hike of the day started from the Soldier Pass Trailhead. This hike came onto my radar a few months ago when I saw some pics on Instagram of a cool looking cave. Then Coanbru, Joe & Tortoise Hiker hit this about a month ago making a loop hike that seemed perfect! The trailhead parking was full and a sign said you had to be out by 6pm. It was 3pm and I figured we’d cut it close so we parked outside the gate in a residential area.

We started hiking and came to the huge sinkhole a few minutes into the hike. I thought it would be bigger but it was still very cool. From there we headed north on the Soldier Pass Trail. The trail is in great condition and relatively easy to follow. I had Coanbru’s GPS track and we easily found the turnoff for the cave. The use trail makes a steady climb leading to a cliff face. There were a few people hanging out in the window making a ton of noise. They were obnoxious! We climbed up into the cave and admired this magical place despite the noisy group. We took our pics and got out of there returning to the Soldier Pass Trail.

Once back on the main trail we continued north and connected onto the Brins Mesa Trail heading southeast. We took a break right before the trail makes the steep descent back to the Brins Trailhead. It was getting late in the day so we kept the break short and continued down the Brins Mesa Trail. As we neared the trailhead I figured there would be a short cut connecting onto the Cibola Pass Trail making for a perfect loop. We found a trail but it was hard to follow because spur trails went in several different directions. We had to go off trail to reach the Cibola Pass Trail but it wasn’t a big deal. Once on the Cibola Pass Trail we made quick time as we went over the pass heading west and connected onto the Jordan Trail. We took that back to the sinkhole and were back to the jeep a few minutes before 6pm. We timed this perfectly. From there we stopped at Pisa Lisa for some delicious pizza and then returned to Phoenix through Cottonwood. This was another wonderful trip and everything worked out perfectly!
Soldier Pass Trail #66 - Sedona
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Cibola - Soldier - Brins Loop
All prepared we took off down the Jordan Trail. It is a very nice tunnel through Arizona Cypress. A little over a quarter mile in we realized we didn't prepare so well. Jordan wasn't on the itinerary :lol:

Back on track we took Cibola over and cut up to Morning Glory Spire. Did MG with Jim_H and johnr1 back in 2009. All I remembered was the slanted chimney was scary at first but solid. Forgot about the approach onto the deck. Denny got up no problem. While I could get up, getting down with a recent chest injury seemed like a bad idea. Bruce was my saving grace. Knowing he let go of Denny on Battleship didn't secure my confidence... lol

It'd been 15.5 years since I last hiked Soldier Pass #66. It's a touristy hoot and I love it. We got up above the arches which is fun and easy.

Brins is okay, not my favorite. It was loaded with people so that was cool.

2009 MG video ... beBM
Soldier Pass Trail #66 - Sedona
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Cibola - Soldier - Brins Loop
Joe came up with a figure eight loop this week, that turned into two hikes. Denny was in early, so this week it's the Three Stooges in Sedona.

After we pulled into the trail head in the Range Focus, we were off like a heard of turtles in the sub 40's temps.

First up, was the Morning Glory Spire, in all it's Morning Glory. Joe'd done this one before, so he led the charge. We all scrambled up to the base of the first climb and made it up the first climb. Denny made the next step up, but Joe and I decided we could probably make it up, but getting down was iffy. Denny went a bit farther, but ultimately came back and we guided him down.

Next it was off to the sinkhole, a real interesting feature. We hiked past the 7 sacred pools, then it was off to an arch that Joe had us checking out. For me, this was the highlight of the trip. Unassuming viewing from the outside, you could actually easily climb up inside of it. We explored inside and the used the arch to climb to the top. We spent a lot more time here than planned. Well worth it.

We took a side trip down a spur trail to check out some additional sweet views, then down, down, down back to the parking lot. We decided to drive to an improvised hike two, instead of hiking to it. Good times as always in Sedona. We are so lucky to have this area so close to us.
Soldier Pass Trail #66 - Sedona
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After hiking Bear Mountain the previous day, something less demanding seemed in order. Soldier Pass was just the ticket. Stopped off at the sinkhole just to marvel. Further up, the pools held a bit of water. Cut off to the east to visit the larger of the arches and chatted with some snowbirds a while. Clouds were gathering in the south and the weather man said the late afternoon would be best spent under a roof and by a fire, so we headed down and back to our accommodations for libations and such before the evening long drizzle commenced. It was a good hike and then a good evening.
Soldier Pass Trail #66 - Sedona
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had heard good things about this loop
started from soldier pass road and went up soldier pass trail first
great view when you turn around at the top
took brins mesa and noted the fire damage
cibola pass and jordan to close the loop
very enjoyable and scenic hike
saw the huge sinkhole

Permit $$
Red Rock Pass - may or may not be required. Go to Red Rock Pass then check "When is a Red Rock Pass Required?". If you have questions contact the Coconino forest service.

Red Rock - Secret Mountain Wilderness
see map for camping restrictions

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From the 'Y' in Sedona ( 179/89A ) follow 89A 1.2 miles Southwest to Soldier Pass Road. Turn right and follow 1.4 miles to Rim Shadow Drive. Turn right again and look for the parking area on the left with in a .25 miles.
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