Sedona is a visually stunning city in the heart of Arizona’s
red rock country. It is surrounded by a panorama of natural formations—arches, bridges, pinnacles, cliffs,
and gorges. Together with mesas, canyons, and cave—some featuring prehistoric
pictographs and Indian ruins--this region contains such varied and colorful
geography and history that one visit is never enough.
We have been to Sedona three times in the past five years and find new ways to explore and enjoy the natural beauty each time.
While casual sightseeing is fine to do, there is an abundance of outdoor
activities to take advantage of in this land that nature has been sculpting
through erosion for more than 350 million years.
|Sights like this are all around Sedona.|
We have taken several jeep tours, a helicopter ride
to see formations from the air, driven extensively in the area, and played golf
there. But one of our favorite—and possibly the best way to become acquainted
with this treasure--is on foot. With easily 100 trails suitable for day hikes
in the region, we have only begun to scratch the surface. Here are a few that
you might want to try.
|A plethora of places to visit around Sedona|
Bridge Trail: The trek to Devil’s Bridge, a massive
54-foot-high natural sandstone arch, takes a little more than an hour, even more
if you spend time being a dare-devil on the bridge or find it necessary to park
a half mile before the start of this popular trail. The trail begins on an old
unpaved road but eventually climbs natural (read uneven) rock steps to the top.
|Crossing Devil's Bridge|
You’ll hike about a mile to the destination, a natural
rock formation that is only about five feet thick. The bridge spans about 45
feet; it has cracked and fractured over time but apparently is stable enough
for the many hikers who are enchanted with a sense of danger. For those who are
brave enough to walk out on the arch, you’ll be rewarded with dramatic vistas
of the surrounding canyons, mountains, and red rock formations.
Canyon Trail: Plan at least an hour and a half to hike
through Fay Canyon, located in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness. From
the starting point of the 2.4 mile round trip, you’ll walk toward stunning red
rock walls to the mouth of the scenic box canyon. An unmaintained side path leads a quarter mile up
the steep east canyon wall to elusive Fay Canyon Arch.
|On the Fay Canyon Trail|
|Approaching the arch|
From below, the arch is
hard to recognize. The massive slab of rock that forms the arch broke away from
the canyon wall, leaving the arch close to the vertical cliff behind it. The
23-foot thick natural arch has a 90-foot span and height of 15 feet. Tread
carefully along the stone walls to the arch and a small prehistoric dwelling
from the ancient Sinagua Indians.
Take time as you walk the both directions of the trail
to admire the gorgeous red sandstone cliffs of nearby Bear Mountain.
Mountain Trail: Doe Mountain is a flat-topped mountain
between Bear Mountain and the Cockscomb (a formation with scalloped spires that
resemble the comb of a rooster). A zigzagging path ascends the north face of
the mountain with views of caves and rock sculptures in the weathered cliffs.
While the trip to mesa is only about three-quarters of a mile, it seems longer
because of its many switchbacks. A steady climb over craggy rocks takes you
along the eroded cliff face to the top.
|A rocky trail up Doe Mountain|
|Standing on the rim of Doe Mountain near Sedona|
When you reach the plateau 400 feet above the valley
floor, you have wide, sweeping vistas of the surrounding red rock landscape.
You can loop around the mesa on an unmaintained path, which adds another 1.25
miles. Or just meander close to the rim and take photos of cliffs and canyon
walls across the canyon. If you decide to take the perimeter loop, make note of
where you started for your return.
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