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Courthouse Butte Loop Trail, AZ

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Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Sedona > Sedona SE
3.5 of 5 by 30
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 2.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,200 feet
Elevation Gain 207 feet
Accumulated Gain 291 feet
Avg Time One Way 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.37
Backpack No
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37  2018-05-05 rrshort
18  2018-05-01
Sedona Hike
1  2017-07-15
Courthouse Butte
24  2017-05-03
Woods Canyon #93 to Pine Valley Ridge - Sedona
6  2017-02-05 xthine
9  2017-01-29 xthine
10  2017-01-22 xthine
9  2017-01-16 xthine
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,259 map ( 21,438 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Oct, Nov → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:14am - 6:25pm
Official Route
5 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Tourist hot spot
by joebartels

Page data is for the one-way segment. Description below is for a 4 mile loop from Bell Rock Trailhead utilizing this route.

Bell Rock - Courthouse Butte Loop
Here's an easy trail with many rewards. You can bring the whole family on this Sedona stroll. Checking out the trail log book, I'd say roughly 75% stated vacation as the reason for this hike. The trail description presented here loops around Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. A number of variations are possible if you are looking for a shorter hike. As usual I head out for Sedona with one trail in mind and end up on something totally different. Today being no different. High winds canceled the thought of Wilson Mountain. I believe I've passed Bell Rock a hundred times. Never giving much thought to hiking the area. My thinking was tourist central so stay away. Since you get a great view of Bell Rock driving by why even bother. On this beautiful but windy April morning I decided to give it a go. It turned out to be pretty impressive.

From the parking lot check out the posted maps. Jump on the Bell Rock Path as it is called. Wide and flat, the hike up to Bell Rock is very easy. Going into the hike I was expecting large family groups. I was blessed with less and didn't get plowed over by any baby strollers. Upon reaching Bell Rock there is a junction with clearly marked signs. Courthouse Loop takes off to the right. I opted for the reverse loop and continued heading north.

Continue on the Bell Rock Path around the west side of Bell Rock. It's peaceful with the exception of 179 hugging the trail. Vegetation with wildflowers took me by surprise. The trail meets up with the Courthouse Butte Loop on the north side of Bell Rock. This is an area where folks love to play on the sandstone slopes. Some venture up looking to conquer Bell Rock. Most come in on the Bell Rock Path from the north parking lot as opposed to our venture from the south. Hang a right on the Courthouse Butte Loop. From here on the trail is single track heaven around Courthouse Butte.

Several side trails will be encountered along the way. If you stay close to Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte you should be okay. The forest closes in and the scenery goes into overdrive. Up, down and curving the contours of the land this is one awesome stretch of trail. Be on the lookout for mountain bikers as you stroll east. As you begin to head south on the east side of Courthouse Butte you enter the Munds Mountain Wilderness. I mention this because mountain bikes are not allowed in the Wilderness zone. Down near the southeast side of Courthouse Butte I passed two artist hard at work sketching the monument. The trail heads back west to the junction with Bell Rock Path. Head on back to the parking area.

Summing it all up. The Bell Rock Path is where the tourist hang. You will probably get a different feel for what Bell Rock really is as you see it up close. In my opinion the loop around Courthouse Butte is the highlight. I really enjoyed the stretch of trail along the north and east sides of the butte.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2000-04-17 joebartels
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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 of 18 deeper Triplog Reviews
Courthouse Butte Loop Trail
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Sedona Hike
this is the one i couldn't wait for. modified the Bruce/Joe loop by tagging on some excellent additional trail miles and circling around behind cathedral. there was a big storm front moving in that evening so i knew i was on the clock a little bit for this one.

started off messing around up on the beautiful bell rock. went up the lower chute and decided in the interest of time (ie storm) to call it there, for this trip. i will be back for the top one day. scrambled down and around on courthouse butte. took a minute to figure out the unmarked loop out to the rabbit ears. the way out is a bit of a rocky slog, but once you hit the high point, loop around to magnificent view of the rabbit ears and bring it home on the much more entertaining northern leg, this becomes a much more worthwhile excursion!

scenic traverse on llama and little horse over to chicken point for the next high yield part of the hike. views from chicken point are always wonderful. broken arrow is great, then the absolutely fantastic high on the hog and hog heaven trails. man i love these two trails. completed the loop around the mountains on hog wash, mystic and chapel trails. headed back to 179 then crossed under it on little horse and the surprisingly nice HT trails.

next up was probably my most anticipated part of the day looping over to, up/down, then around cathedral. the templeton trail is underrated in my opinion and the segment from HT to cathedral junction, i found to be lovely. this is when the weather really moved in. i contemplated bailing on going up/down cathedral since i've done it numerous times. instead i decided to just put on my bobby rockets and blast up and down. more templeton awesomeness to the creek, then short but sweet crossover on baldwin to the Hiline trail. Folks, we have another sedona winner with the Hiline Trail. completely awesome trail, with sections remniscent of the hogs/hangover. the weather was pretty crazy at this point so i had to keep it moving, but this was really outstanding. i had earlier notions of adding a few extra miles at the end with looping made in the shade and slim shady, but it was pretty clear it was time to call it a day. and i was getting sick of the wind at this point too. ha

outstanding big day out there, without that many people all things considered. my gps screwed up on me for a while on the little horse and broken arrow trails, so the numbers associated with my gps route are not right (a little too low, especially the elevation). for those interested, the route is good though.
Courthouse Butte Loop Trail
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Woods Canyon #93 to Pine Valley Ridge - Sedona
Woods Canyon and Beyond

This hike features a moderately rigorous collection of less-commonly-used trail sections, starting at the Woods Canyon trailhead, taking Woods Canyon to the Hot Loop Trail just up the Horse Mesa, traveling back down to pick up Jacks Canyon, then using an fairly obscure connector link to loop through the Pine Valley Ridge and Pine Valley Trails, then backward the same way (skipping Horse Mesa) to the Woods Canyon trailhead. We hike about 16 miles, with an accumulated elevation change, round trip, of about 2900 feet.

The hike offers a bit of everything – open shrublands, rim forests, tree-covered mesas, expansive views, red-rock creek beds, Sedona real estate, the horses at Jacks Canyon trailhead, Courthouse Butte – but not a lot of anyone thing. We get the varied, and a reasonable amount of spectacular.

One item, though, does occur a lot – gates, of all types. After passing, close them, both an obvious courtesy and moreover standard hiking etiquette.

The hike starts at the extreme southern end of the Visitor Center south of Oak Creek village. A trailhead marker near a single boulder announces “Woods Canyon,” followed then by an old-style metal marker with “Trail 93” cutout, then a gate, and tall grasses.

Soon, though, the trail evolves to a mixture of open shrubland of low plants and common Southwest pinyons, juniper and other short trees. This continues as you rise slowly on Woods Canyon trail, the canyon itself formed by mesas to your left and right. The mesas might be considered unremarkable: low, flat, with gently-sloping tree-covered sides – no towering cliffs, only a little of the deep reds or browns or oranges, few bands or striations revealing geologic processes. But this unremarkableness brings a wonder – what would a 300 million year time lapse reveal about why Woods Canyon presents to us tree-covered green, while in a dozen miles Courthouse Butte will present to us a completely different view.

After about 1.8 miles, you reach the Hot Loop junction, marked nicely by a sign post. The ascent pitches up to a moderate incline, bringing you after about .8 miles to another nicely marked “T” junction of Hot Loop, with one leg of the “T” ascending to Horse Mesa. Go right and follow that up (about 1.3 miles) until you judge yourself close enough to the northern rim of the mesa to go north off trail (a short bit) to overlook Jack’s Canyon and the formations beyond. Rest a bit, you will have climbed 1200 feet, but mainly to take in the view and work a few pictures.

Your view across Jacks Canyon provides an expansive panorama of Lee Mountain, Courthouse Butte, and Bell Rock. Beneath you, in Jacks Canyon itself, lies the eastern edges of Oak Creek Village, including estates on roads sufficiently private that no Google street view exists. Far in the background rise Doe, Bear and Black mountains.

Travel back down, to the “T” junction, and now proceed north. This portion of the hike weaves through the wooded slopes of Horse Mesa and the smaller mesa that stood to your left on the beginning of the hike. Of interest, red rock occasionally breaks through the vegetation, hinting that the slopes consist of rock eroded down from strata once above the tops of the mesas.

About 2.8 miles after leaving the viewpoint on Horse Mesa, the hike reaches the horse trailer area at the Jacks Canyon trailhead. With good fortune, you might observe a couple horses being groomed and readied for riding. The estates of eastern Oak Creek village will also appear to the north.

Now pick up the interconnector. This will not be reached by taking the Jack Canyon trail. Rather, look for an unmarked single red trail a couple dozen feet more north than the trailhead for Jacks Canyon. Proceed a short distance on the interconnector, cross the road, pick up the connector again, and proceed up a short hill to a gate. Here, you stand up-close to a large estate, of intriguing architecture. The gate marks the start of Pine Valley Ridge trail and a continued gentle incline.

Proceed about .9 miles, and at the bend of the trail, take a short trek off-trail to the rim for wide view of the escarpment on a southern exposure of Lee Mountain, as well as an angle view on the infamous Rabbit Ears formation. Most of us lack a deep knowledge of geology, but even the casual observer can see the bands, layers and striations in the escarpment, formed as Sedona alternated between sea, beach, river and inland environments circa 275 million years ago.

At this point, one can drop down on a relatively uncataloged “Rabbit Ear” trail, or continue on Pine Valley Ridge, to arrive at the eastern side of Courthouse Butte. Again, geology will be evident, as will a bit denser crowds. You can peruse Courthourse Butte and Bell Rock on the typical trails, as you like, but when done take Big Park Loop south to an unmarked junction with Pine Valley Trail (GPS 34.794682, -111.747949). You will travel back about 1.5 miles on Pine Valley, until you “T” into Pine Valley Ridge. Go right, and shortly you will be at the gate to the interconnector. Proceed back to the Visitor Center, but eliminating the spur up to the top of Horse Mesa. Even though you traversed these trail sections earlier, the sun will now be at a different angle, and you view will be from a different viewpoint, and the time will be later in the day. So don’t be in so much of a hurry to not practice a bit more photography, or nature viewing, or geology study, or whatever your fancy.
Courthouse Butte Loop Trail
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After a 5k road race in Flag earlier that morning, i was left yearning for a nice and quick trail run back home.

It was overcast in the mid 40s, parking lot at Bell Rock vista was barely half full by the time I got there at 4pm. Who knew the trail would not be busy in the late afternoon.

So apparently I've been logging my runs as Courthouse Butte Loop when in fact I had been on Big Park Loop.

Turns out this run would be my first time on Courthouse Butte Loop. Definitely more bike friendly and more runnable than Big Park Loop

Only came across 1 MTBer and another hiker at the beginning of the loop. Didn't see anyone else until I got close to the Courthouse vista parking lot. Trail wasn't muddy at all, didn't get much rain the night before.
Courthouse Butte Loop Trail
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Skies were clear and the sun was out again!

Snow mostly melted around Courthouse Butte Loop. Trail were super muddy this morning. Encountered a group of mountain bikers who asked me if there were any trails that are not muddy (uhm Phoenix?).
Saw some people going up Bell Rock, hopefully there were not a lot of icy patches up there because there were certainly some along the trail.
Courthouse Butte Loop Trail
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Parking lot was 1/4 full by the time I got to the trail head and by the I was done parking lot was full.

Temps in the mid 30s, overcast. Some flurries early on which turned into a drizzle. Trails slightly muddy. The washes were alive and flowing from rain the previous night. Took a number of stops today to take pictures, these wet snowy views will not last long. :( A tourist saw me snapping a few pictures of the wash and promptly asked if I could take a few pictures of her (at least she did not have a selfie stick). :lol:
Courthouse Butte Loop Trail
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Drizzling at first but cleared up after an hour. Temps in the high 30s to 40s. Lots of splashing in puddles of mud, crossed washes with flowing water (finally!). Puddle of water or pricky pear to the ankle.. hmmmm. Decisions decisions!
No areas of flooding. A few mini waterfalls along this trail.. refreshing to see! Saw a Forest Service employee in his truck having brunch at the trailhead and only 3 other cars when I started. By the time i was done the trailhead was packed with cars (stopped raining).
Courthouse Butte Loop Trail
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Just a tad muddy, snow on the trail is all gone. Started pouring after I got back in the car. Saw a sign/note (which was not there last week) along the trail, seems to be addressed to mountain bikers rerouting the trail (see photoset). Lots of birds out today, mostly overcast with temps in the 40s.
Courthouse Butte Loop Trail
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First time running in the mud. Almost slipped twice and no face plants :y:
The trail head was almost full when I got there and overflowing by the time I finished the run.
Trail traffic was heavy only saw 1 other trail runner.
The trail just got muddier by the minute, the rocks had icy slippery patches. Snow coating everywhere which may everything extra pretty (and extra cold). Temps were in the 30s and the skies were clear blue.
Courthouse Butte Loop Trail
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Bell Rabbit Chicken Hog Church Cathedral
Bell Rock
Hands down the highlight. Using 9L's posted route it was easy to decipher. Based on the tunnel through the scrub at the bottom and the register up top this place gets a lot of visitors.

Rabbit Ears
Heard of this 11 years ago and have been mildly curious. I prefer the north part of the loop over the south. Once is probably enough. It's cool you can see the ears driving south on I-17!

The Hogs
16 years ago I mountain biked Broken Arrow. Memories of so so kept it off my return list. The Hog trails are near perfect. A low key manicured version of Hangover Trail ( favorite ). Edgy trail through lots of cypress, need I say more. Thx to tibber/gecko for bringing these great trails to light.

Templeton Trail
Bruce put this hike together. I suggested the missing spice Cathedral Rock utilizing HT & Templeton to connect. Unexpectedly found out the connectors are decent hiking. When you aren't in the cypress you are surrounded by the distant red rock formations. This trail goes to Red Rock Crossing, I may have under estimated it's potential. Tough to give it a higher rating going under a hwy and with such other great choices nearby. Let's call it a high 3.9 of 5!

I enjoyed the entire hike. Sedona, the forest service or whoever has done a great job with most of the trails and signage. I'm not a fan of over networked trail systems like the cough north McDowells. It works very well in this spectacular land of red rock. Wonderful weather and friendly yoga enthusiast may have made this hike better than normal.
Courthouse Butte Loop Trail
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Bell Rabbit Chicken Hog Church Cathedral
For all the times I've hiked in Sedona, I've never really hiked much in this area. I put together a loop, Joe tweaked it a bit, and we were off.

First up, getting to the top of Bell Rock. Joe picked a decent ascent route to the top. There are only a couple spots that make you think a bit. We had the top to ourselves. Great morning views of the area.

Video from the top :next:

Next up, an area that's off the main drag. I've wanted to get a better view of the "Rabbit Ears" and found this unmarked loop on Satellite View that get's you close. We saw one mountain biker, walking her bike on the trail and that was it. A nice little change from the perfectly groomed Sedona main corridor trails.

Just before making it to Chicken Point, I lost Joe to a Yoga Class for a bit.

The High on the Hog and Hog Heaven Trails need to be put on your list if you are in this area. We were calling this the Hangover junior Trail. Great trail with great views.

After taking Joe to church, it was off to Cathedral Rock. The HT Trail and Templeton Trails are a worthy alternatives to reaching Cathedral Rock. Being one of the most popular areas in Sedona, it was jumping with all types. Including Infants, puppies, yoga pants and Grandmas.

I really enjoyed this loop with perfect weather in gods country.

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 I-17 exit on 298 and head towards Sedona. Pass through the Village of Oak Creek. Just after Bell Rock Boulevard pass the Circle K and take the next right which is the turn off for Bell Rock Path.
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