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Wilson Mountain Loop
5 Photosets

mini location map2019-03-03
5 by photographer avatarShatteredArm
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Wilson Mountain LoopSedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Run/Jog avatar Mar 03 2019
Run/Jog19.40 Miles 3,876 AEG
Run/Jog19.40 Miles   5 Hrs   39 Mns   3.43 mph
3,876 ft AEG
1st trip
The "3 Passes" loop in Sedona is one that has gotten somewhat popular in the trail running community. I was looking for something around 20 miles, and with Sedona having received significant snow the weekend prior, I thought this would be a good opportunity to check it out.

This guide is the closest thing I could find to 3 Passes - I believe the only difference is this goes directly up Brins Mesa instead of going up Soldier Pass trail.

I started from Jordan TH and went clockwise, so as to do the three passes in order from shortest to highest.

Everything was pretty normal until I topped out on Brins Mesa, where it was extremely muddy, and I tried my hardest to avoid the soft areas in order to avoid ruining the trail. Probably wasted effort, since everybody else was just going through the mud. The descent down the canyon on the north side was beautiful, which the creek flowing about as much as one can expect, and some snow still on the ground.

Heading up Dry Creek road was unremarkable other than having to zigzag around to avoid the small ponds on the road.

Vultee Arch trail was new to me; I have to say it was in top form. Beautiful canyon, and when I hit Sterling Pass trail it was all icy snow. There was no sunlight in this area, so this made the ascent a bit sketchy in places, very slow, but still a lot of fun. Saw a couple of hikers at the top. The east side was a bit better, although there were 2-3 really icy spots on steep slopes.

The mile or so on the 89 was by far the worst part of the route, and it was especially bad with snow banks on the shoulder. Basically had to run on the lane stripe. This was motivation to keep moving.

North Wilson trail was fantastic. It was actually more clear of snow than Sterling Pass, and on the way up, I noticed a huge temporary waterfall across the canyon. Probably a rare sight. The bench at the top was muddy with lots of freshly melted (i.e., cold) snow that was up to six inches deep in places. I had hiked up Wilson Mtn to the North Wilson junction the previous weekend (the day after the snow fell), and it's definitely a little easier going without waist-deep snow up there...

Once past Wilson Canyon (where I missed the Jim Thompson turn and ended up almost going to Midgely Bridge), I was just ready to be done. That last couple miles was a bit of a slog, but it was a small price to pay to see Sedona in top form.

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