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Bear Mountain Trail #54, AZ

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Guide 149 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Sedona > Sedona NW
4.4 of 5 by 75
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,600 feet
Elevation Gain 1,834 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,100 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 - 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.5
Interest Peak
Backpack Yes
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22  2019-09-22 Naferg323
1  2019-03-24 te_wa
20  2019-03-16 DarthStiller
16  2019-03-16 adilling
11  2019-03-15 OdinWiski
20  2018-12-25 ddgrunning
5  2018-11-23
Bear-Doe in Sedona
8  2018-09-20 DixieFlyer
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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, Apr, Oct, Nov → 9 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:15am - 6:24pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
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Smorgasbord of Awesome
by joebartels

This out and back hike up Bear Mountain is the ultimate Sedona geology lesson. From the trailhead it appears you will be walking across a boring flat plain to get over to the mountain. In reality it's a roller coaster through deep-ditch-erosion. On the return trip, you get a beautiful view of these ditches as they spider across the desert floor.

In a little over a quarter mile you're at the base of Bear Mountain. The fun begins. You are starting in the lower section of Schnebly Hill Sandstone. It's a huffer 350 ft ascent to a deck etched out by Apache Limestone. As you're wheezing for air keep in mind you haven't even cleared a quarter of the climb yet!

You will notice the Schenbly Hill Sandstone is a tad lighter above the limestone. A good trail continues around the west end along this deck. In less than a quarter mile you come to a break in the wall. It's a short haul up a steep ravine. Edging out you may need to use some upper body for the final few yards.

Next you move across a more defined and distant deck covered with lots of manzanita. This deck is the split of Schnebly Hill Sandstone followed by Coconino Sandstone. When the incline picks up again in a half mile you'll notice the distinct difference. The Coconino is orange instead of red.

Continue to work up through approximately 500 ft of Coconino. Cairns become more plentiful. The first pine encountered is all by itself. This bad boy doesn't look old. Another look at all the pinecones strewn about makes you wonder. Further on is a real treat. It's a multi-directional etched-section-swirl of sandstone. This is unlike any other area around Sedona I've seen. It's more reminiscent of northwestern Arizona or Utah. Just fascinating.

At first it appears you'll get to go straight up through the heart of swirls. However, the cairns detour you right. Further up is yet another deck of sorts. I don't recommend exploring this deck, stick to the cairns. It's a maze of manzanita-lined-ravines of plate-rock. I might add, a topographical map would be wise for this hike. Continue up the last section. The footing becomes a bit more technical.

Once atop Bear Mtn you're on your own. It's a scraggly forest with thick bush and such. A trail does sort of skirt the outer edge. Work your way around. The views are breath taking every few steps. In sections, pitted Kaibab Limestone is cool as it lips the edge. Be careful, those aren't diving boards.

The top I describe is a tiny elevated island. You'll notice the bulk of Bear Mountain is further north past a saddle (which BTW is the break above the boxed-in-canyon-end of the Boynton Canyon Trail) It may be possible to work through the shrubs to either of those destinations. However, I think it'd be too painful. Instead you might try working around east at a lower elevation. I'll close with saying this isn't one of the tiny tourist attractions. It definitely qualifies as a must-do for the area.

According to the 2018 FS map camping is allowed further into the hike outside the green line. That said, probably best to confirm with the FS.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2002-07-20 joebartels
  • wilderness related
  • Bear Mountain Trail #54 Map
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    Bear Mountain Trail #54 Map
  • Sedona Trails 2018
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    Sedona Trails 2018

Coconino FS Details
The hike to the top of the mountain is mostly unshaded, steep and difficult in places. Great views the whole way. The trail begins at a broad path at the parking area, crosses two washes and then starts a gradual ascent 1/4 mile to the wilderness boundary at the base of the mountain. The trail narrows and begins a 450 foot switchback that is steep and rocky in places. It levels out following narrow plateau area and then begins a steep rocky 500 foot climb in a narrow side canyon to a broad plateau. It crosses the plateau gradually ascending, dips down, and then climbs another 400 feet to a false summit. Fay canyon views are to the right (northeast). The trail continues a moderate climb to true summit. There are great panoramic views here. Continue over level ground another 200 yards to the Red Canyon overlook and a view of the San Francisco Peaks in the distance to the north. Return by the same route. Do not attempt this hike when there is significant snow on the mountain.

Notes: Hiking only. Unsuitable for horses. No mechanized vehicles (including mountain bikes) in Wilderness. This trail can be hot and dry in summer. Please do not disturb ruins or remove artifacts.

USGS Maps: Wilson Mountain/Loy Butte
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 29 deeper Triplog Reviews
Bear Mountain Trail #54
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Decided to go to Flagstaff after hearing the weather forecast for this week. Had to go to one of my favorite hikes on the way. About 70 degrees at the start but seems warmer as you climb the south facing slope in full sun. A feast of scenery on this buffet of rock formations. Stumbled along trying to walk and view at the same time,noticed since last year and as noted in Amy1300's trip log there has been an addition of white paint marks along the route to the summit ,a white paint stripe with directional indication on both ends.I inquired with the Red Rock ranger office who were not claiming responsibility for them so maybe they will get erased. Despite paint marks and cairns its still possible for me to take one of the indirect paths through the manzanita. The view of the Flagstaff peaks was more dramatic last year as they were snow covered, today only minimal snow visible.Could see a couple of smoke plumes which I think were from prescribed burns. Passed by about a dozen hikers coming and going, a couple from Florida and a couple from South Carolina. Everyone agreed the scenery is awesome here.Before leaving decided to visit Doe Mountain also.
Bear Mountain Trail #54
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This was the first of 3 days' hiking around Sedona, this trip. Bear Mountain "trail" is more like a class 3 rock climb, in parts, at least for me. If your legs are longer than those of a 5'5" person, your experience may differ. On the downward half of the hike, there were spots where I turned around to go down backward, because the steps were so long.

Spectacular views are all over the place, on this hike. I kept doing 360s, wherever the terrain allowed.

The original description of this trail refers to following cairns -- but on this trip the route was marked with fat white arrows (points on both ends), painted right on the rocks. You can see one of the blazes in one of my photos. Follow those, and watch for boot tracks wherever there's soil between the rocks, and you won't go wrong. (I did see a couple of cairns, but they weren't on the route and they seemed to have been built as a joke, by someone who likes climbing on slickrock.)

The trail is on the mountain's southeast side and has little shade. I did it in blue jeans (hot because it was about 90 degrees out). Shorts would be sufficient for most people -- no brush, unless you choose to go beyond the trail's end on top.
Bear Mountain Trail #54
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I was hoping to get up early and hike into some snow in Sedona's Red Rock Country. This storm didn't quite produce as predicted however, and despite being cold enough, there just wasn't enough moisture to produce much snow in most areas. It looked like Mingus and the areas above Sycamore Canyon had gotten a few inches, but the red rocks around Sedona were mostly bare.

So despite striking out on a fresh morning snowfall, it was still an amazingly beautiful day for hiking. I set off around 7:30 with temps in the high 30s. Some clouds moved in and it started snowing again on my ascent. The shower passed before I reached the summit, but looked to be hitting downtown Sedona. The clouds were nice. A new squall was moving in from the northwest so I decide to head back down. It was blustry as the snow fell, but before reaching the bottom the snow let up again and the sun came out, and I was able to remove layers as the temps moved up into the 40s.

Sedona hikes are so scenic with low clouds and dramatic weather. I'd never hiked Bear Mtn before, and a cold snowy day provided just the views and solitude I enjoy on otherwise overrun tourist trails!
Bear Mountain Trail #54
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Nice day but a little warm, had to be dropped off at trailhead as no parking. Had some trouble staying on trail in the manzanita area which had not been a problem before. Still a great hike with beautiful views. About 20 other hikers coming and going on the trail today. Nice to see the snow covered San Francisco peaks from the summit.
Bear Mountain Trail #54
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First time on this trail. Glad we did this instead of Hangover trail.

My partner was concerned that it would be too cold to do the hike because temps were in the 30s in the morning.
It was quite sunny during the hike and evidently the temps were perfect (at least for me) given the nature of the hike. I cannot imaging doing this hike when temps are in the 70s (even 60s) or 80s.

Took the last parking spot, we got there before 10am. *Almost* took the Doe Mountain trail, did not know the trail for Bear Mountain was across the road. (I just saw that it was clearly indicated on the map that I took a picture of lol).
There were 2 other couples that started along with us.
The elevation on this trail starts out quick, almost right out of the gate. Made a wrong turn within the first mile and ended up going the steeper way, quickly turned back around and found the trail.

There are more painted trail markers the higher up you go which I found *very* helpful. Was able to follow the trail easily after the almost wrong turn before mile 1.

Glad I wore pants during this hike because some of the plants were mildly overgrown (yucca?). Overall i thought the trail was well maintained.

I knew that this trail was going to be strenuous and it did not disappoint! Took no breaks going up, except to take a couple of quick snaps and spent about 10 to 15 minutes at the top. There were about 3 other groups when we got to the top, 3 groups leaving, with a lot more behind us. The trail was busier than I expected it to be, glad we started early (ish). Saw only 1 dog on the trail, going up like a champ too!

Going back down was not as fun as going up, BUT the views going down were much better! It's amazing how far (up) your two feet could take you :D
Bear Mountain Trail #54
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I think I owe the Sedona area a mea culpa, there may be some decent hiking up there after all. I chose Bear Mountain for this rare excursion into Sedona and it did not disappoint. An excellent hike and destination.

I thought there might be a small chance that we would beat the crowds on a Friday, but no chance, every single trailhead on the way to Bear Mountain was overflowing down the roads, Bear and Doe Mountain TH were the same when we arrived. Turns out, there was no fee today at all trailheads, due to Veterans Day, so I can't really complain much, as that's a pretty nice gesture. We ended up getting lucky anyways and all the foot traffic must have been on Doe Mountain, as we did not really bump into that many people. Speaking of Doe Mountain, in an attempt to blend in with the tourist, we kicked off our hike by hiking two tenths of a mile up the Doe Mountain Trail before realizing it was not the trail up Bear Mountain.

Bear Mountain Trail and its terminus at the summit proved to be a very fun and rewarding little hike, with a worthy destination. The climb is a little bit of a smoker, but the scrambling and quick little climbs kept it fun and interesting. Jackie really liked the trail as well and despite cursing a few false summits, she mentioned appreciating the more aggressive trail and the little challenge it presented. Maybe not the most dog friendly trail, but they got up just fine. However, I would generally classify it as a not very dog friendly trail, especially, on a warm day. We spent a ton of time on the summit, watered the pups amply, explored the far edges of the summit (hard to beat some of those views, in particular, those of the peaks) and then headed back down. The hike down seemed to fly by, I gave Cup a couple of assist, we did run into a few groups, but nothing like what the full parking lot at the TH indicated.

After that, we braved the annoyances of Sedona traffic and got a burger. We opted for an exit north towards Flag, as the traffic through and out of town was backed up for miles. No worries though, hard to beat that drive and Jackie had never been through there anyways. We caught a little fall colors and Jackie gave the small detour two thumbs up.
Bear Mountain Trail #54
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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:
Bear Mountain Trail #54
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We wanted to go back to Sedona for a day trip and hike a variety of trails. I looked at my Sedona completion list and set my sights on Bear Mountain. It looked like a fun hike and would only take a few hours at most. We’re planning additional hikes making for a full day of hiking. Bear is our start.

We left Scottsdale at 6:30am and headed for Sedona. We opted for driving through Cottonwood and entering Sedona from the west. This worked wonderfully and we hit the trailhead a little after 8:40am. There were only a handful of cars on a chilly and overcast morning. The weather will clear up later in the day.

The hike starts out easy as you make a moderate climb heading northwest. About ten minutes in we see a group of backpackers heading down. We said hi as we passed and I could smell campfire on them. We continued on took a short break roughly a mile in where we briefly talked to another couple also hiking up. Soon after the trail leveled off and I could smell a campfire. We walked around a bend and I could see a campfire ring that was covered with rocks and was smoldering. The backpacking group left their fire in a completely unacceptable manner! More to come on this later…

The rest of the hike to the summit was a solid climb that took some effort. The views on the hike up were just magnificent and sun rays beamed through openings in the clouds. Once up top we took a break and ate a snack. It was still chilly so we didn’t stay too long. We started down and about fifteen minutes later we encountered a volunteer. He stopped us and asked if we knew who was responsible for the smoldering fire ring because fires were illegal on this hike. We gave him a description of the backpackers and had a conversation with him. We estimated that he just missed the group at the trailhead. Their timing had to be close. The volunteer dismantled the fire ring and spread the ashes. Unfortunately the damage was done and those responsible will probably never be located.

From there we headed down and made good time. There were more people on their way up but I wouldn’t say the trail we crowded. We could see the trailhead and most of the parking spaces were full. I expected Sedona to be a zoo on a busy Saturday but it was fine. We arrived back to the jeep and took a break to hydrate and change clothes. By this time the sun was out and the temps warmed up significantly. Next up was Doe Mountain and we were about to begin.

The Bear Mountain trail is a great hike with amazing views! It’s a moderate hike with a very steady gain. Try to hike this on a cool or cloudy day.
Bear Mountain Trail #54
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The sun burned through an overcast morning in Sedona by the time we were finished with this one. I was hiking with my wife and her two friends who were in town for the week. The hike had a different vibe as we marched up breaking periodically at much slower pace than my wife and I usually keep. Our two friends had tired legs from a river and back Grand Canyon backpack a few days earlier, and may have been hazy in the head from the last few nights of celebrating :lol: . The pace didn’t bug me even as I was amped to scale this thing, but I gotta tell you the intermittent posing for photos/snaps/instagrams or whatever the social media dejour at the time was killing me inside. Arranging for the satisfaction of three women with a photo is way more difficult than mountain climbing…Alas, I digress as this is already far off course than needed for a triplog.

We took an extended break just before the final climb, about a quarter from the peak, and it offered the best vantage point of the day facing red rock to the east. The peak was mentally fulfilling although the vegetation inhibits the epic views that I was expecting after that much gain. The views 3/4 way up were still among the best I'd experienced in Sedona - and I enjoyed spotting Jerome to the west.

We quickly descended in better spirits and ready for fuel to gear up for the afternoon hike…more on that later :lol:
Bear Mountain Trail #54
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I'm a lucky guy. I have a beautiful, smart, and funny wife who may no longer appreciate sleeping on the ground and squatting behind a bush, but supports my desire to continue doing so. Truth be told, I don't actually like doing these things either, but for many of the most amazing places it is simply what needs to be done.
In this case I had a list of western Sedona "must do's" and a limited amount of time. Bear Mountain would be the hardest, so that's where I started.
Little fluffy clouds in a deep blue sky watched over as I made my way up through the Schnebly Hill Sandstone, Apache Limestone, and Coconino Sandstone. 2/3 of the way up I encountered what Joe's Description called the "heart of swirls", and I wanted to take a picture of everything I saw. This whole section would be epic at first and last light. :)
Met a couple from Florida at the summit who bore a striking resemblance to a young Jessie Ventura if he had been married to a beautiful powerlifter from Poland. They wanted more beta on hiking in AZ, so I told them about a little site I know. ;)
Copped a seat northwest of the summit with killer views of Red Canyon, and enjoyed the strong cooling wind and the sound of some kind of bird that flew by every few minutes at what appeared to be 100+ mph. 8)
Deciding that this had been a great idea, I headed down to a PB and J burrito and my next hike - Fay Canyon and Arch. :y:

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 Doe Trailhead
From the Y in Sedona follow 89A 3.1 miles Southwest to Dry Creek Road. Turn Right and continue 2.8 miles to the three way intersection with stop sign. Turn left and follow 1.5 miles to another three way intersection. Follow this baby about 1.2 miles to the parking area for Doe & Bear Mountain on the left.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 130 mi – about 2 hours 29 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 235 mi – about 4 hours 9 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 37 mi – about 1 hours 2 mins
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