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Vultee Arch Trail #22, AZ

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Guide 85 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Sedona > Sedona NW
3.9 of 5 by 33
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,800 feet
Elevation Gain 1,063 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,160 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 10.05
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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25  2019-06-01
Wilson Mountain Loop
16  2019-06-01
Wilson Mountain Loop
18  2018-11-03
Sedona Arches
6  2018-09-21
Vultee Arch via Brins Mesa
15  2017-05-20
Sterling Pass Trail #46
13  2016-03-23
Morning Glory - Sterling Loop
3  2016-03-23
Morning Glory - Sterling Loop
1  2015-05-25 HAZ_Hikebot
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
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
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, May, Oct → 9 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:11am - 6:31pm
Official Route
10 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Popular Arch
by joebartels

Traveling from Winslow, Mr. and Mrs. Vultee experienced engine trouble in a snow storm. The nearby arch was named in their honor. A plaque has been placed on a nearby sandstone ledge in their memory.

Twice as steep, yet an easier sedan access option is to use Sterling Pass Trail #46. Mileage is almost identical.

This trail receives a fair amount of traffic simply for the sake of viewing the arch. The arch is interesting. Personally I go for the trail. From the trailhead you will follow a rut. Actually you need to follow the rut a bit to get to the official signed trailhead. The trail follows the Sterling Canyon creek bed. Crossing the creek several times along the way. I enjoy this area due the tree coverage, making this an ideal summer hike in my opinion. Ideal being near 85 degrees or less.

The creek is dry with the exception of run off, so technically I guess it's a wash. Mixed vegetation makes up the area. Dry Creek to the west offers a more Sedona feel with the large sandstone slabs. Here the forest is dense. Making it more reminiscent of creeks in the southeastern states with a touch of Sedona in my opinion.

The trail is easy to follow. Little elevation is gained. Several creek crossings do keep you going up and down a few times within the hike. Upon reaching the junction with Sterling Pass veer left. There is a short segment of trail over to the lookout on a sandstone ledge. Having done this trail numerous times it seems like I never get the same trail over to the ledge. There's nothing to worry about, the area is just heavily used and trails seem to go everywhere. Others say I'm nuts and the trail is obvious. At any rate, be careful walking around the ledge as the sides are steep. You can bushwhack over to the arch. From what I'm told there is a trail somewhere, I've never gone over myself.

This is the easy approach to Vultee Arch. You can take the Sterling Pass trail off 89A for a more strenuous 4.8 mile roundtrip hike. For the truly hearty trail blazer like myself check this out. Park at Vultee. Hike up, over, and down Sterling Pass. Then head up the road to Slide Rock. Play in the water and head back. If you've ever been to Sedona on a perfect day you know getting a parking space at Slide Rock is out of the question. Around an eleven mile excursion this is an all day adventure but I enjoy it! I actually did a mountain bike shuttle for the highway section.

No personal photos up yet. Summer of '99 I shot the area. On a second hike that day in West Fork I dropped the film in Oak Creek. Okay I slipped and looked like the biggest fool around. The next day I decided to give up 35mm and got a 2.5MP digital. Digitals being quick, easy and painless I'm actually glad it happened.

According to the 2018 FS map camping is allowed outside the green line. Which looks to be after a mile into the hike.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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1999-06-21 joebartels
  • book
    area related
  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
    area related
    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
  • wilderness related
  • Vultee Map
    guide related
    Vultee Map
  • Sedona Trails 2018
    region related
    Sedona Trails 2018

Coconino FS Details
A short, easy hike along the bottom of Sterling Canyon. The drainage is dry most of the year. Shade is available, but it would be wise to carry some water in the warm months.

The trail deadends at a bronze plaque place in memorium for Gerard and Sylvia Vultee who lost their lives in an aircraft crash on January 29, 1938. The actual crash site is more than a mile north and at a much higher elevation, on East Picket Mesa. On the north side of the canyon across from the plaque is the sandstone arch named for Vultee, an early aircraft designer from California. Just before the plaque site there is a junction with the Sterling Pass Trail which continues over into Oak Creek Canyon.
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 19 deeper Triplog Reviews
Vultee Arch Trail #22
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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
Vultee Arch Trail #22
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Wilson / Sterling - Vultee
We've talked about this one for awhile and even tried it a month or so ago only to find the area was closed for 3 more days. The plan, up Wilson North #123, check out the South Overlook, out to the North end and go to Lost Wilson out and back, then down the North slope of Wilson to meet up with the Sterling Pass or Vultee Arch trails.

We were not sure what shape any of the trails would be in since they opened a month or so ago. All were in great condition

North Wilson Mountain Trail #123 - We were the first vehicle in the lot at around 7:30a. The colors were still hanging on in pockets on the way up in the Canyon. The first respite from the climb is at The First Bench of Wilson Mountain. The next climb took us to views to the the South (Sedona) overlook, and give a great overview of the opportunities for hiking in this area. There was one or two cars in the Midgley Bridge lot when we went by, it appeared full now.

Next off to the North end to check out our opportunities. The Land Bridge that appeared to exist on Topo and GE from the Northwest corner of Wilson to Lost Wilson Mountain, did not exist. So off to try to complete our loop off the North end of Wilson. We dropped in at the place I'd spotted on GE, and started the thick, steep, prickly drop down. After making it down 300' we made he decision to retreat back to the top.

On the way back to the TH we took lunch at the high-point of Wilson Mountain @ 7,122'.

Next we drove over to hike up the Sterling Pass Trail #46 to the Vultee Arch Trail #22 and get to the Arch and back before dark. The climb to Sterling Pass is a steep one, (1,100' in 1.2 miles) especially the upper 1/3rd. The colors were holding on nicely. Geology helps make this an interesting trek.

Down the western side of this trail, to the Vultee Arch Trail #22, you loose 775' in about the same distance. This side has less step ups and the switchbacks are lazy in comparison.

I really enjoyed all three of these first time trails for me. Perfect weather and company (for the most part). I hope Joe is not too much of a bad influence on you Ray :sl:

Video from the top of Mount Wilson
(South and Northwest Overlooks) :next:

Colors ranged from past prime to just beginning on the lowers portions close to the Sterling /Vultee intersection
Vultee Arch Trail #22
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Wilson / Sterling - Vultee
For many moons I've wanted to connect Wilson to Sterling. We headed up North Wilson #123. A large portion of this was torched in the 2006 Brins Fire. A good portion survived too. Regardless it is one beautiful pocket heading up to First Bench of Wilson Mountain.

Once on Wilson we showed Ray the southern lookout. Not up to snuff with the Munds overlook yet mighty darn close. Next we headed to the north. Took a gander at Lost Wilson Mtn. Bruce laughed no. It does looks sketchy. While I think it is doable it would take the entire day from what I saw so I wasn't totally heartbroken. Contact me if interested.

Next it was over to the northern lookout. Yeah... not sure why I haven't been here before. Stunning. We headed down a sliding steep slope covered in nasty needle barbed brush. On occasion a friendly bush was grasped to control the slide. It wasn't looking great so Bruce sent out a test Joe to survey. I saw a steeper but still borderline doable canyon to my right. Bruce informed me his track went left. Now that I'm home looking at it, I'm grateful I did not take the right plunge. That would have dropped us down the Sterling side... doh!

I checked out the left, circling around to a saddle Bruce mentioned from above. It looked more of the same we came down. Ultimately we decided to abandon the option. I'm pretty sure it's doable after reviewing the route plus based on what I saw above and below.

We headed back and lunched on the peak at 7122. This was low on my radar. While a little brushy I think it's worth it. There is a red rock layer up there not seen at lower elevations. The views are fabulous. Oak Creek, the San Francisco Peaks, Kendrick, Sitgreaves, Bill Williams, etc.

Since we couldn't make a loop out of Wilson and Vultee we drove to Sterling for an over-n-back. Autumn foliage in Sterling goes from picking up in the lowest elevation to a week past in the upper. Basically perfect. Bruce and I hit Vultee while Ray took a breather at the pass. We made it out just before headlamps were necessary.

Warm for the area and time of year, luckily that meant perfect!

Looks to have been extreme a week ago. This was a warm year so most areas hit later than normal.
Vultee Arch Trail #22
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with my Mom, Dad, Sierra and Michelle :y:

been a loooong time since we were out here. the road out to the trailhead is currently pretty :pk:
Vultee Arch Trail #22
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We wanted to do this trail since the last time the weather did not cooperate. We got lucky this time, it waited until we got to the end before it started to rain. :) We viewed the Arch but did not attempt to make it up to it. Perhaps next time. Still a good hike, we had some people with us and its always nice to have something cool on the hike to point out to them.
Vultee Arch Trail #22
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It rained overnight so we weren't sure what the hiking would be like in the morning but things turned out great. We hiked up (and down) Sterling Pass Trail to check out the Vultee Arch, which was way cool, then cruised out Vultee Arch Trail to check out the trailhead off FR152. Like the day before we enjoyed an overcast morning which made hiking very enjoyable. With the overnight rain some of the rocks were a little slick but nothing too bad. The hike back up and over the pass was a lot faster then the climb up from 89A, taking advantage of all the switchbacks. Very nice morning hike in beautiful Sedona :y:
Vultee Arch Trail #22
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I was determined to drive my new 4X4 Jeep, Grand Cherokee on dirt road 152. My wife kept reminding me that I had said I'd never drive that road again. She was not happy and after about a mile said "I'm out of here" and jumped out of the car as I was doing a slow creep along the road. My friends Kathy and Larry were more surprised by my non reaction than Judy baling out of the car! About a mile later, after a vote, we pulled over and parked...waited a few minutes for Judy and walked the road 3 miles to the trailhead.

Here's the road report. I saw one Pink Jeep type vehicle, three Jeep Wranglers and one Subaru Outback. The road has about 4 real iffy places unless you have a high clearance vehicle.

Vultee Arch trail is 3 miles round trip but we had to add about 6 miles out and back on 152. :(
Vultee Arch Trail #22
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Second trip of the day, and third arch trail. I really liked this trail. It felt more to me of a wilderness trail, with the multiple crossings of a dry Creek bed, several fallen tree jumps, and weeds whipping my shins. Saw 2 deer, 1 snake, and ZERO people. Was very nice to enjoy the surroundings without anyone else. The arch was cool even from a distance. The memorial was nice too, kinda gives some background to the arch's name. This was my goal last weekend coming from 89a on the Stirling trail that didnt pan out. Trek back to the truck through a small t-storm and some light rain, then the rough road back to town. Picked up another geocache not far from the FR152 start after the storm had passed.
Vultee Arch Trail #22
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Fun little hike. A couple moments scratching my head about the trail up to the Arch. I think some of those trails are for photo angles. A couple of tourists at the TH asked about the VanDeren cabin. I had the Mangum's book so I learned the history, but did not have time to look for the trail. Dry Creek Road 152 was a lot rougher than I remembered. Taking it fast will definitely knock a few fillings loose.
Vultee Arch Trail #22
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This is one of those hikes I've always wanted to do and finally got around to it. This was the third hike I would be doing in Sedona on this trip. I hit the trail and made good time to the arch. The views along the hike are spectacular! Sedona is truly magnificent!

I reached the Vultee Arch sign and then started heading up hill. Right away I noticed the arch off in the distance. It is higher up then I imagined. I continued following the trail to a nice viewpoint. There were two other people finishing up their snack. We had a short conversation and they departed. I enjoyed the views in all directions. After a few minutes I stared back as well. It was easy going on the return trip.

I wanted to do one more hike afterward and was considering my options. My original plan was to hike Wilson Mtn but I wasn't motivated for a 2,500 gain. I decided on Bell Trail along Wet Beaver Creek over by the I-17. This got me out of Sedona and a little closer to Phx for one more easy hike.

Permit $$

Red Rock - Secret Mountain Wilderness
see map for camping restrictions

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From the 'Y' in Sedona ( 179/89A ) follow 89A 3.1 miles Southwest to Dry Creek Road. Turn Right and go 1.9 miles to Forest Road #152. There is a fairly large sign with the multiple destinations of FS #152. Turn right on to FS #152 and follow it to the end which is about 4.5 miles. Several trails take off from the area so make sure you get the right trail. The Vultee Trails begins as if the road continued ahead. There is a rut you follow through in the beginning.

Location: About 42 miles south of Flagstaff (12 miles west of Sedona) on paved and gravelled roads.

Access: Drive 27 miles south from Flagstaff to Sedona on US 89A. Continue through Sedona to Dry Creek Road (152C) at the west end of town. Turn right on Dry Creek Road and drive for two miles to Forest Road 152. This road is rough, but can be traveled by passenger vehicles. It is not recommended during wet weather. About 4.3 miles up this road you will reach a small sandy opening or turn-a-round. Park here and proceed hiking out the east end of the opening along a short jeep trail which deadends at a drainage. Continue on the foot path up the canyon.
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