register help

Harding Springs Trail #51, AZ

45 11 0
Guide 11 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Sedona > Sedona NE
3.4 of 5 by 7
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Distance One Way 0.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,840 feet
Elevation Gain 720 feet
Accumulated Gain 720 feet
Avg Time One Way 0.5 - 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 3.2
Backpack Connecting Only
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
2  2017-05-10
Oak Creek quintet
17  2013-07-21
Harding Springs - Cookstove Loop
16  2011-08-16 cactusrose63
8  2009-03-21 hippiepunkpirate
14  2004-01-09 bdwilliams
7  2001-03-24 joebartels
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,812
Trips 4,252 map ( 21,403 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → Any
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:10am - 6:33pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Just Hard
by joebartels

Harding Springs Trail is named after a settler that occupied the area long ago. I 'm not sure "spring" is appropriate as you don't pass a spring on this trail. It's a general reference to the trail taking off "near" a spring. Cave Spring is located across 89A in the campground.

The trail takes off north of the campgrounds and across 89A. Now it takes off directly across a Red Rock Pass purchasing station. Parking is not permitted at the station.

It's a fairly steep trail. Several books state this trail is comparable to the Cookstove Trail. I guess so, but this one seems a tad easier because it's smooth. The Cookstove Trail has a few steep sections, which seems more arduous.

The trail takes off and quickly makes a switchback. It soon goes under a power or telephone line and keeps going up. The next switchback is a lot further than expected. I was beginning to wonder if this trail went to the rim or just over to Cookstove. Indeed, the rim is reached further on after a couple more switchbacks. The second noticeable switchback is one you don't want to miss. The trail turns right just before falling off the edge of a cliff. Next comes a large log-rail. There's a similar rail on the Cookstove Trail. None of which seem needed by any means. It's not that much steeper here than the rest of the trail. Maybe it's for tying up horses to rest, but I don't know that for a fact.

Although it's a Hard"e" hike it's short and over soon. The trail breaks onto the rim with little excitement. Views aren't great from here, just a bunch of trees. Don't get me wrong, the trees are nice. There just aren't good distant views. Continue on a ways over and to the right to a lookout.

The book Sedona Hikes states that views from atop this trail are better than the Cookstove. I'll disagree. I enjoyed the Cookstove Trail much more. The views along the way and atop blow away this trail in my opinion.

Once on the rim you can head across on the HC Rim Trail.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2001-03-24 joebartels
  • map
    guide related
  • Sedona Trails 2018
    region related
    Sedona Trails 2018

Coconino FS Details
This trail originally was one of several that provided a way for cattlemen to drive their stock in and out of Oak Creek Canyon. For today's hiker, that means it's wider than most Oak Creek Canyon trails and not as steep as some. So, if you're looking for a gradual climb to the canyon rim, complete with rest stops along the way where you can enjoy the view both up and down canyon, you've found it.

All of Harding Springs Trail is in the shade of a mixed conifer forest characteristic of central Arizona canyons. That adds another to this trail's already impressive list of pluses by keeping it reasonably cool in summer. And when you top the rim, you have the option of continuing either north to Cookstove Trail or south to Thomas Point Trail to complete a loop hike. Then again, you may want to go back by the same friendly route that brought you here.

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 Triplog Reviews
Harding Springs Trail #51
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Oak Creek quintet
Hiked the 5 road-to-rim trails on the east side of upper Oak Creek Canyon. Up and back down on Purtymun, Thomas Point and Telephone, then up Harding / north on the connector trail / down Cookstove. All are steep, well-constructed trails with scenery and big views. I expected more of a thrash on Purtymun but its in mostly good condition all the way to the rim, so it's clearly getting some use and unofficial maintenance.

Hit Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock on the way out of town, fun slickrock.
Harding Springs Trail #51
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Harding Springs - Cookstove Loop
Teva Joe has written about this loop, a couple of people (including HPP) have traveled it, and I can't believe it doesn't have a lot more photos and triplogs. This is a beautiful loop hike in Oak Creek Canyon. I recommend going up the Harding Springs trail and DOWN the Cookstove trail. Cookstove is steep an sections, and you get to fill up your water at the spring at Pine Flats campground, yum (no filter needed)! If you start early enough, you can park on the east side of the road right next to the Harding Springs trailhead.

We started at around 8:30 and the temps were perfect (a bit humid after the recent rains), and there's plenty of shade on the trail up. On the rim the temps are cooler, and the trail is a pleasant stroll. Don't miss the cairns marking the top of Cookstove (they're hard to miss), and head on down. Once you get to the road it's only about a mile back to the Cave Springs campground.
Harding Springs Trail #51
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Went up Harding Springs this time and actually did the Harding/Rim/Cookstove loop. It turns out that when I tried this loop, I was at least a half mile from the top of Harding. Go I know. I actually lost the rim trail for a while and got to do some bushwhacking! Good stuff. I'm starting to get extremely excited about summertime...these Oak Creek rim climbs are sweet! (and I'll have the mountain at my disposal as well :) )

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.

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From the Sedona 'Y' ( 179/89A ) go East (what seems like North) on 89A 11.5 miles to the far north end of Cave Springs Campgrounds. Do not park in the campgrounds, it cost too much. You do need a Red Rock Pass to park alongside 89A. There are several sections along the west side the road where you can park. There is a Red Rock Pass purchasing station directly across the highway from the trailhead. Extended parking (more then buying your pass) at the station is not permitted. The trailhead is on the east side of 89A.

Location: 17 miles south of Flagstaff (10 miles north of Sedona) on paved roads in scenic Oak Creek Canyon.

Access: Drive 17 miles south of Flagstaff or north 10 miles from Sedona to the entrance to Cave Springs Campground at about milepost 385.5. The Harding Springs trailhead is on the east side of the highway. Be careful to take the trail that leads uphill. The other one doesn't go much of anywhere.
2+ mi range whistle
blow it hard
help comment issue

end of page marker