|Sedona Near Trail Loop, AZ|
|Sedona Near Trail Loop, AZ|| |
Sedona Near Trail Loop, AZ
|Hiking||18.11 Miles|| 13 Hrs 20 Mns ||1.36 mph|
|2,565 ft AEG|
||no linked trail guides|
|Loop Tour Sedona Trails, on May 6, 2019|
Took a slightly different angle to hiking Sedona – stitched together a set of common short trails into a larger loop. Created a fifteen mile hike running through and across a variety of terrains and vistas in the red rock country. Described below are some highlights of the trails traversed. Use the corresponding GPS upload and geo-linked photos to follow along as desired or needed.
Brins Mesa Trail – Begins at the Jordan Trailhead parking as a mildly sloping, broad trail, then gradually increases in grade, but never to the point of noticeable steepness. Opens suddenly onto a wide, grassy mesa (i.e. Brins Mesa) dotted with separated pines and junipers. Descends gradually into a thick, at times dense, forest. Travels on occasion along rocky washes bordered periodically with outcroppings of red rock strata. In the cool dawn hours, offers a calm and relaxing ambiance, traversed – in the northwest downhill direction – with little exertion.
At its upper terminus on Forest Road 152, connects conveniently to Chuck Wagon Trail via short and well-marked spur. Mentioned here since the spur does not consistently appear on trail maps.
Chuck Wagon Trail (North of Mescal) – Continues with the forested terrain just encountered in the later parts of Brins Mesa Trail. Travels as needed along and across broad washes. Presents few elevation changes, and thus offers a relaxing, tranquil ramble, in restful solitude at least for me at the dawn hours.
Intersects Dry Creek, where at the date of my crossing had evidently experienced an enormous torrential surge. Evidence? Large, tangled mats of dead denuded tree limbs, roots and trunks sat crushed into heaps against standing trees. Appeared as almost a post-apocalyptic landscape.
Mescal then Chuck Wagon (South of Mescal) – Remain within the flat, lowland valley situated along the diagonal between Capital Butte and Bear Mountain. Features again forested sections alternating with more open shrub terrain. Excites the eye with the artistically curving trail at the wide views at Dry Creek vista.
Can create concern about a few of the fairly frequent passers, as these trail sections link convenient paved parking to the more distant Devil’s Bridge. Why concern? Round trip from parking to Devil’s Bridge runs five plus miles. While not an overwhelming or even extensive distance, the trek’s length may surprise and even challenge the casual visitor, some who appeared possibly not ready or prepared for the trek.
Lizard Head Trail (Official) – Offers on the initial stretch, as approaching from the north, wide views of this stout formation on the west flank of Capital Butte. Then rises swiftly to a ridge line traversing laterally along the formation. Up and down, in and out, narrow, but more fun than treacherous, quickens the heartbeat, a bit, after the gentle stretches of Chuck Wagon and Mescal, and the later parts of Brins Mesa.
Why “Official” in parentheses? For the intrepid, experienced and/or sufficiently skilled, an unofficial Lizard Head route starts a path which can ultimately reach the peak of the imposing massif of Capital Butte. Why no official route? Unlike say Wilson Mount, or Bear Mountain, both surmountable with moderate effort and minimal treachery, scaling Capital Butte involves steep climbs, high cliffs and open exposures, and demands exquisite routing, zero fear of heights, and high climbing competence.
Thunder Mountain Trail (Official) -- Weaves a twisting, rocky, somewhat hilly path at the base of the southern face of Capital Butte. Provides close-up views from multiple angles of this renowned and spectacular formation. Gives in-your-face encounters with several examples of the massive rock falls from cleavages off the towering heights above.
Set aside, at least I did, any desire to actually witness a dramatic cleavage. Simple reason – little chance I could predict the path of the falling and tumbling rocks, and no chance exists I could survive the impact of any cleavage event sufficiently dramatic to be interesting.
Teacup Trail – Meanders leisurely past the formations on the eastern flank of Capital Butte. Winds gently through forest and shrub vegetation. Gives interesting and at times powerful views of the side edge of Capital Butte.
Appears, at least by my navigation, not to be routed exactly as shown on the digital mapping to which I had access. Raises some concern, since one might, or at least I did, wonder if I missed a trail junction, and had become diverted onto a not uncommon local, uncharted trail. In the end reaches its intended terminus at Soldier Pass Trail.
Soldier Pass Trail to Jordan Trail – Features, just as one leaves Teacup, the interesting sink hole of Devil’s Kitchen. Provides, at the same location, junctions to a web of trails linking Soldier Pass to Jordan Trail and beyond. The overall web of trails travels through rolling, forested terrain along those trails, with some exceptions of moderate inclines. Offers collectively pleasant views of rock formations in multiple directions.
Contains a key notable viewpoint, the summit of Ant Hill, reached via the Grand Central Trail. The summit rises above the surrounding terrain providing views in all directions, with an added delight of possibility witnessing mountain bikers tackling the hill’s tricky ascents, drops and curves.
Jordan Lane (Street) – Accessed and returned from the trail head via a walk, not a drive, up the paved surface of Jordan Lane, i.e. did not have a car that day. Illustrates a small feature of Sedona trails – a number of their trail heads sit close enough to residences, or villas, or wherever one might be staying, that the trail heads can be reached on foot. Not unique to Sedona, but at the same time not always the case.
Overall – Started with low expectations; cobbled together the loop of trails when a rain forecast for future days triggered a change in plans. Expected crowds, little elevation change, only moderate views.
Blew away my doubts. Found solitude (except near Devil’s Bridge). Saw sweeping vistas. Experienced the range of flora and vegetation. In all the bits and pieces, climbed 2500 feet. Got in a good 15 miles. And gained an appreciation that even the common trails of Sedona, when linked in a (reasonably) thought-out loop, offer a good full day hike and experience.