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Wilson Canyon and Steamboat Rock, AZ

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Guide 12 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Sedona > Sedona NE
3.6 of 5 by 7
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,413 feet
Elevation Gain 778 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,277 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 10.69
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
30  2012-04-28
7  2012-04-28
Damifino / Steamboat / Wilson
7  2012-02-16 PrestonSands
25  2010-02-27
Wilson Mountain Trail #10
15  2009-12-11 Jim_H
7  2009-09-18
Jim Thompson Trail #124
14  2009-03-13 JimmyLyding
8  2009-01-21 hippiepunkpirate
Page 1,  2
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,834
Trips 4,261 map ( 21,471 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Feb → 8 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:15am - 6:24pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
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by joebartels

Here I've combined two hikes into one, as both are rather short. Included below are the statistics for an individual hike on either of the two.

Wilson Canyon Trail: 2.8 miles RT - 372 feet elevation gain
Steamboat Rock: 2.7 miles RT - 723 feet elevation gain

After opting out of two other preplanned hikes I decided to check out this area. I really had no clue where I was going or what to expect on route. From the parking area you simply head straight out on the dirt going north and away from SR89A. Immediately you pass the Huckaby/Vista junction on your left. Wilson Mountain Trail takes off and up to your right. Keep strolling straight down the old dirt road, which now serves as the beginning of Wilson Canyon Trail.

The trail crosses an intermittent streambed several times along the way. This was one of the more relaxing hikes I recall to date. It was borderline hot at 86 degrees with a late start in March. I was expecting full exposure as most Sedona hikes dish up. Mid way up the canyon I realized this hike was better than expected. Although far from shady an occasional section is certainly enjoyed.

It's a pretty simple hike. You go up canyon. The trail peters out. A distinctive trail-of-use takes off on your right up the steep slope. You can go up the first tier pretty easy and get in some great views. If you want better views go up further until you reach a wall. It's not much more difficult but probably not for younger kids. I say that because I imagine tourist heavily travel this trail. I passed two families on a Thursday in March and a few couples, none of which looked like serious hikers.

On the way out I tacked on Steamboat Rock. This definitely isn't for families with young kids. At Jim Thompson junction jump on that trail. It's something like an eighth of a mile to the obvious jump off point. Cairns will likely be in place to assist you. If not you'll figure it out. Basically it's up! You can head straight up if you have a little climber in you. Otherwise minor zig zagging will do the trick.

You will know when you reach the deck "of the Steamboat". It's flat as a pancake and without a doubt the biggest smooth chunk of red rock at such altitude. You can work your way up to the upper deck but there is a minor climbing move involved. If you fell you'd seriously hurt yourself. However I don't think you'd die because there's a slight break in the grade and a tree to keep you from rolling off the mountain.

Regardless of how high you go the views are AWESOME! I don't recommend screwing around on the slanted edges. Leave the hearty boots at home. Red rock slabs are best tackled in running shoes or tevas in my opinion.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2004-03-20 joebartels
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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 Triplog Reviews
Wilson Canyon and Steamboat Rock
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
I wanted to hit some new areas in Sedona, and visit a little known favorite of mine.

This is the first TH I've used in awhile that was paved. I could have washed the truck. ](*,) It was nice that we were able to park the vehicle at Midgley Bridge and use it as the hub for basically 3 hikes. We were able to resupply, so we didn't have to carry as much weight.

Good thing the clouds were out until 9am or else Tibber Bartel and Tibber Coan never would have finished this hike. We crossed under Midgely, crossed over Oak Creek and headed down Huckaby for a short distance. We then scrambled up a track that Joe had drawn up and made a beeline for the Unnamed trail on the way to Mitten Ridge and the start of the Damifino Trail.

That mile or so of trail that traverses the ridge and the beginning of Damifino, is one of the most beautiful sections of trail I've been on. I have no idea why it is not shown on any maps and is unnamed.

We completed the loop going past Grasshopper Point saying hi to Hanks relatives and back to Midgley to resupply. Next it was the scramble towards the top of Steamboat Rock. More pretty views and fun climbs to get close to the helm of the ship. It was the one of the first times I had a bit of fear in climbing. I was looking for a way up to the Helm and got to a point where Joe told me (from below me) not to look down. I couldn't help myself and got that feeling in my stomach that I had to wait to pass before going back down.

Next it was off to the Classic Wilson Mountain Trail. Both of us nursing Chest Colds, and Joe whining about no sleep the night before made this tougher than it should have been. We had a trail guard that tried to get Joe to turn around.

Once passed the Trail Century, it was still a pretty good climb to the South Overlook. But well worth the effort.

Another great day on the trails. We are so lucky to have Sedona and the rest of the hiking playground, right in our back yard! Thanks for joining me Joe.
Wilson Canyon and Steamboat Rock
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Damifino / Steamboat / Wilson
Bruce and I went on a World Class hike and witnessed spectacular views. Started off with a little off-trail to the best unnamed trail in Arizona. Albeit overcast t'was a joy. We hooked up with the Dam - if - i - no trail. Apparently easier to follow than the name suggests. The sun burned off the morning layer enhancing our views.

Next up was Steamboat! The approach is Cathedral Rock squared and tourist free. I forgot to ruin the experience this time around. The Aloha Boardwalk Deck wasn't in the cards again. My good buddy Bob would knock it out in a heartbeat.

We scratched plans for Wilson Canyon and headed straight for the grand finale on Wilson Mountain. Here we passed a half dozen groups. The highlight on route was the worlds meanest hissing gopher snake. Yawner finale views sealed the deal. The sleigh was homeward bound.

Cheers cheers and sandstone dreams in a roundabout kinna way!
Wilson Canyon and Steamboat Rock
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Wilson Canyon proved to be a nice warm-up for the climb up Steamboat as we weren't incredibly limber at 7:30 in the morning. I was surprised at the panoramic majesty to be found in Wilson Canyon as well. The climb up Steamboat was fun, although one section definitely pushed my comfort zone a little bit (on the way up and the way down). That being said, it turned out to be a solid personal achievement, and a quite gorgeous morning hike as well! I'll be rating this as a 5 because Steamboat Rock was sweet and although Wilson Canyon was more along a 4, I don't have a bit of a problem rounding it up!
Wilson Canyon and Steamboat Rock
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Was a nice little hike with not many people on it after my husband ran the Sedona half marathon. The trail was a little bit muddy in spots but was nice to hike it. The creek had water in it with lot of little water falls. There even was a vendor selling tshirts and hats at the beginning of he trail. It climbs up thru the creek bottom till the end and then took the trail that goes up to the bottom of the walls of the cliffs. Just did he Wilson Canyon Trail.

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 Midgely Trailhead
From I-17 exit on 298 and head west towards Sedona. From Downtown Sedona head north on Highway 89a for approximately 3 miles to Midgley Bridge. There's ample parking on the north west side of the bridge.

Location: 22 miles south of Flagstaff (2 miles north of Sedona) on paved roads in scenic Oak Creek Canyon. Elevation ranges from 4600' to 6900'.

Access: Drive 22 miles south of Flagstaff or 2 miles north of Sedona on U. S. 89A. The trailhead is just north of Midgely Bridge where you'll find a small parking lot and a monument to Richard Wilson who was killed by a grizzly in this area in 1885.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 123 mi - about 2 hours 4 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 228 mi - about 3 hours 32 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 26.5 mi - about 40 mins
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