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Vultee Arch Trail #22, AZ

Guide 88 Triplogs  2 Topics
  3.9 of 5 
621 88 2
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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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14  2020-11-14
Sterling Pass to Vultee Arch
13  2020-10-24
Sterling Vultee
25  2019-06-01
Wilson Mountain Loop
16  2019-06-01
Wilson Mountain Loop
5  2019-03-03
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
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Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 241
Routes 829
Photos 11,947
Trips 4,747 map ( 24,324 miles )
Age 51 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  6:57am - 6:23pm
Official Route
12 Alternative

Popular Arch
by joebartels

Likely In-Season!
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.

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

1999-06-21 joebartels
  • book
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  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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    Vultee Map
  • Sedona Trails 2018
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    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.

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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