Sedona, Arizona, is a popular travel destination for its five-star spas and wonderful art museums. There’s also another reason why people visit, the incredible landscape.
I recently returned from a four-day road trip with an itinerary of some incredible hikes through the red-rock buttes and canyons. The first day would be dominated by a seven and a half hour drive from Southern California. I arrived late in the afternoon which gave me no time to hit the trails. The incredible landscape could be seen from town which is surrounded by some amazing views. My hotel was situated in the middle of town so I used the rest of the day walking around town and visiting shops.
Devil’s Bridge via Mescal Trailhead
I woke up the next morning with high anticipation as I woke up early in order to hike Devil’s Bridge, an iconic landmark high on everyone’s list of destinations. But before I would depart, I stopped at the visitor’s center to get some information on my hikes and to pick up parking passes. I was informed that the Devil’s Bridge Trail was well trafficked and it was a good idea to get there early. Also, the one mile dirt road was going to be too rough with muddy conditions due to recent rain and prior snow. So, I was referred to use the Mescal Trailhead and the trail would link up with the Devil’s Bridge Trail, driving to the Devil’s Bridge trailhead would have to scratched. I started my trek before 9 a.m. and I seemingly had the trail to myself. One thing that wasn’t mentioned about the trail is that there is a creek crossing just passed the parking lot. It wasn’t deep, calf high, but would be an inconvenience. It was cold and would hamper my hike due to my wet socks and shoes. I didn’t see a single person until a mile into my hike at the official start of the Devil’s Bridge Trail, at the end of the fore mentioned dirt road. Here, the path would have a gradual incline and then eventually becomes a climb up the cliff to the bridge. In the spring and summer seasons, this would be a fairly easy hike, if you’re not afraid of heights. But the recent rain and snow, made my footing uneasy so I moved slowly and surely up the cliff. I made it to the same level of the bridge and discovered that there was snow on the ledge path. It made walking sketchy, especially at this elevation.
Then, there it was. I could hear ooo’s and ahhh’s from a crowd of about twenty people. There was a short queue that had formed as we took our turns posing on this iconic bridge. The views from up here were stunning but when I was on the natural bridge, my focus was on my footing.
To me, walking on the snowy cliff-side ledge was more treacherous than the narrow rock bridge. I can only imagine if I had come here at a later time. There would be more people with a limited amount of space. My time here had come to an end and it was time to make my slow descent down the cliff. The number of hikers had increased so at certain points I had to wait for groups to make their way up the path before could make my way down. I definitely recommend hiking this trail as early as possible. I had forgotten about my wet socks during my trek up the cliff, anticipation and adrenaline I guess. I had come to the end of the trail with one last obstacle, the creek. My socks now semi-dry, I had to plunge back into the water, so,… in I went. My socks and shoes were now drenched again. I had planned on doing the Airport Trail hike before having lunch. But, with the Devil’s Bridge hiking being longer, a total of 4 miles, than I had planned and the fact that I had to now change my socks and shoes, I had to skip that hike. I made my way back to the hotel, which was only a 20 minute drive, and changed into fresh socks and shoes. I also had lunch before I made my way to the next hike.
Soldier Pass Trail and Seven Sacred Pools
The next trail would be Soldier Pass. It’s a trail with high traffic as it is popular with locals with the trailhead in a residential area. The trail has a small parking area of maybe room for 20 cars with no parking allowed in front of the residential homes. The parking along the nearby highway was also filling up. People were parking in a nearby strip mall that added to the distance by over a mile. There was a mountain bike show that drew thousands of riders to the area and made parking that much more of an inconvenience. But, luck was on my side today. I drove to the trailhead parking lot and it was full. As I made my way out of this tricky lot, a vehicle was leaving.
With a full stomach and fresh socks and shoes on my feet, I made my way up the trail. It was full of mountain bikers which didn’t make hiking much fun on this trail. Their numbers diminished as I got further up the trail. My main reason for picking this trail was the seven sacred pools. Almost two miles into the hike, I still hadn’t seen the pools an I was near the end. I came across a woman who was admiring the beautiful creek so I decided to ask her where the pools were. She informed me that I had passed it.
So, I back tracked and made my way back. I now know it’s only .60 miles from the trailhead. I had noticed a rocky clearing on my initial way up the trail which was there location. But, the pools are easily missed as they are below a cliff as it makes its way down to a ravine. It was the perfect time of year to visit them as they were filled with water. It’s another one of mother nature’s gifts. It was well worth the visit and I definitely would have parked along the highway to do this hike if I had to. This hike is family friendly with limited and gradual elevation.
Eagles Nest Trail
The next day would have some complications. Rain was forecasted for the afternoon. It was another early start so I could get two hikes in before the rain which was forecasted to arrive at 3 p.m. My first trek of the day would be at Red Rock State Park. I would start my hike again before 9 a.m. The Eagles Nest would be my destination and would be a short 3 mile up and back trek. It’s a short elevation of only 300 feet so it wouldn’t be too strenuous. I made my way up the trail fairly easily and arrived atop a cliff that overlooked the valley and state park.
It boasts an amazing view that includes Cathedral Rock at the opposite end. I was all alone here so I had the opportunity to take as much video and photos as I wanted. The whole morning had been covered in gray as the clouds hid the sun from me. It appeared that the rain would come earlier than expected. With that in mind, I knew that my planned second hike to Doe Mountain would be in jeopardy.
As I made my way down Eagles Nest, I came across a group of deer that were wary of me but weren’t completely startled until I removed my GoPro from my backpack. Maybe, they thought it was some kind of weapon since they started to move away from the trail. Shortly after this, it started to drizzle, it was a light drizzle. I had come to the conclusion the rain truly is coming earlier than they expected so I decided to skip the Doe Mountain hike and just complete the whole hike at Red Rock. It was just over 5 miles and I could complete it before the sky comes crashing down in the form of heavy rain. The trails in the park are easy and I recommend it for people with limited ability and with people wanting to spend time in the outdoors with their family. As I came closer to the visitors center and the parking lot, the on and off again drizzle had turned into heavy rain. Once again, it was perfect timing. The rain would only last for maybe three hours and I noticed some people from the hotel heading back to the trails around 3 p.m. I decided to call it a day and stayed at my hotel. The skies would open up again just before 6 p.m. with heaviest downpour of the day.
The last day of my four-day adventure would consist of an early departure as I made my long way home. I wasn’t able to complete two of my hikes that I had on my itinerary but I still had an amazing time in Sedona.
I only saw a small portion of Sedona and I’ll definitely return to see more of the area. Spring or Fall would be the ideal time to visit this beautiful part of America’s southwest. Until next time, Sedona.