Calendar of Events
Trip Planning Guide
Hike Arizona: Sedona, Prescott
Bear Mountain, Sedona
Trail #54. For a good workout, Bear Mountain is a favorite, taking
hikers 2.4 miles up for spectacular views of Courthouse Butte and the
Casner Mountains. Trail maps are available from the ranger station.
The trailhead for this primitive trail is next to the cattle guard.
- Best Time of Year to Hike: Spring, Fall
- Length: 4.8 mi RT
- Elevation Change: +-1200'
- Range of Elevation: 4600' (Trailhead) to 5800' (Bear Mountain)
- Difficulty: "B-" [moderate]
Experienced hikers only please. Hikers MUST have:
- Hiking boots
- 3 quarts of water
Coconino National Forest Hiking Trails
Bear Sign Trail, Sedona
Bear Sign Canyon is a little known, untraveled, fabulous
diversion with views of rust sculptured canyon walls
overhead. In spring, a secret creek splashed over slickrock
pools for your pleasure. Turn around when the going gets too
tough about 2.5 miles.
Best Time of Year to Hike: May - September
Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Change: +-500'
Easy to find but rough on your car. To access the trailhead,
take I-17 north and take the Sedona Exit.
From the Sedona "Y" (where SR179 intersects
SR89A) drive southwest on Highway 89A (toward Cottonwood)
for a distance of 3.2 miles. Turn right onto Dry Creek Road
(MP371). Go right and follow the map to the trailhead.
Dry Creek Road turns to dirt and may become a little rough,
if you drive your car, plan to go slow.
Start at the well known Vultee Arch Trailhead. The sign
says "Dry Creek Trail #52" at the north end of the
parking lot. Head up Dry Creek Trail. At mile 0.6 the trail
and creek split and you will hopefully spot a rusty sign
that says "Bear Sign #59" leading to the left.
Bear Sign Canyon is a little known, untravelled, fabulous
diversion with views of rust red sculptured canyon walls
overhead all year. In spring, a secret creek splashed over
slickrock pools. Turn around when the going gets tough
after about 2 miles.
Bell Rock Trail, Sedona
Description: Here’s an easy trail with many rewards.
You can bring the whole family on this Sedona stroll.
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. Continue on the Bell Rock
Path around the west side of Bell Rock. 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 artists 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.
- Best Time of Year to Hike: fall through spring
- Distance: 4.75 miles
- Elevation Gain: +-110'
- Difficulty: "C" [easy]
Long Canyon, Sedona
This is a hike that will take you up against the base of gorgeous
red cliffs. This one of the best trails for viewing rock formations
and red and white sculptured cliffs of Maroon Mountain.
The first 1.5 miles are in open country with almost no shade, so
sunscreen and a hat are recommended.
- Distance: 6 mile round trip
- Elevation Change: +-750'
- Difficulty: easy
- weather conditions:
To access the trailhead, take I-17 north and take the Sedona exit.
From the Sedona "Y" (where SR179 intersects with SR89A)
drive southwest on Highway 89A (toward Cottonwood) for a distance of
3.2 miles. Turn right onto Dry Creek Road (MP371). Follow it for 2.9
miles, where there is a stop sign. Turn right onto the paved Long
Canyon Road. Take it for .6 mile where you will see an unpaved road
to the left. Boulders block the entrance to the road and you can park
in front of them
Lynx Lake Campout, Prescott
Ranch Trail, 5 mi RT, 500' EC - This hike take you up to dramatic
360-degree views of the surrounding Prescott area mountains as well
as the highest Northern Plateau Province mountains.
Lynx Lake Ruin Trail, Prescott, 1.5 mi RT, level - A pleasant short
hike to 700-year old Yavapai Indian ruin site.
There are two in the vicinity of Lynx Lake: Lynx Lake Campground and
Hilltop Campground which is further down the road. The campsites are
$10 per unit per night. We can have two vehicles per unit with up to
10 people per unit.
Pets are permitted in the campground, but must be leashed. There are
toilets in the campground, but no electrical hookups. Water is
available but may not be at every site.
Saturday’s Hike: The Ranch Trail #62 is on the west
side of Walker road, about 0.5 miles in from State Route 69. We will
pull into the parking area and pay the $2.00 per vehicle parking fee.
The trail is open to horses, trail bikes and hikers. It is relatively
new to the Forest Service system and we haven’t a map at this time.
The full trail goes about 4 miles to join up with Trail #299 in Groom
Creek. This hike will take us to dramatic 360-degree views of the
surrounding Prescott area mountains as well as the highest Northern
Plateau Province mountains.
The first part of the path is an old jeep trail that heads for the
"Ranch" development. We will follow the jeep trail for about
0.25 miles and look for a rock pile that signifies a sharp left onto
Trail #62. About 1 mile up the path we will reach another gate. We will
pass through this and head up the narrow trail. The altitude increases
steadily and then the trail drops into a wash. We will then turn right
in the wash as the trail continues up a ridge. The angle steepens to
another ridgeline where vistas of the San Francisco Peaks, Kendrick
Peak, Granite Mountain, Prescott Valley, Granite Dells Thumb Butte
and Mingus Mountain open up.
A pleasant level ridgeline trail will carry us through juniper, scrub
oak, manzanita, lemonade berry, mountain mahogany, ponderosa pine,
pinyon and a few yucca plants. The route will then descend to a large
drainage where it meets the junction with Trail #126. This is a good
shady lunch break area and turnaround point for the return hike to the
Sunday’s Hike: Lynx Lake Ruin Trail is on the east
side of Walker road, about 0.75 miles in from State Route 69. We will
pull into the parking area, which is another fee area of $2 per vehicle.
The trail is a short hike to a 700-year-old Yavapai Indian ruin site.
The trail is considered part of an interpretive site administered by
the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office.
Signs describing the early Native American civilization are posted
along the route. The path winds through ponderosa pine, scrub oak,
juniper, manzanita, lemonade berry, yucca and local grasses. There are
six benches along the route, offering views of Granite Mountain, Thumb
Butte, the San Francisco Peaks and the Bradshaw Mountains.
The trail goes to a ruin, believed to have been inhabited by 25-30
people about 700 years ago. A thriving community existed in the area.
They built stone and mud pueblos on the adjoining hilltops that overlook
Lynx Creek. The cultivated beans corn and squash on small terraces
created with small earthen dams along the creek tributaries. The
structures have deteriorated down to ground level, but distinct room
walls are apparent. Return will be by the same route.
- weather conditions:
Take I-17 to State Route 69, Cordes Junction exit. Follow State Route
69 towards Prescott. Turn left (south) at Walker Road, the Lynx Lake
turn off. There is a Costco on the southeast. Follow Walker Road about
1.5 miles to the Lynx Lake Campground. We will post a sign on the
message board at each campground telling you which campground and at
which sites we are located.
Nelson Trail, Pine Mountain
Starting out in a soothing riparian forest along Sycamore Creek on
the Nelson Trail (No.159), this loop hike eventually climbs 1,500 feet
up to the Verde Rim as it aims for its high point atop Pine Mountain.
The enchanting array of walnut, sycamore and oak trees weaves a cool
cover of shade. Trout break the ice-cold water’s surface. Hawks
squawk in the treetops lining the creek. Bears seem at home here. As
the trail rambles in the crevice of the Sycamore drainage into the Pine
Mountain Wilderness, bear signs are fresh enough to evoke caution.
An apple orchard at the Nelson’s Place ruins, within the first mile
of the hike, draws the bruins. Elk, mountain lion and deer also share
The hike seems easy enough at first, but when you are within two miles
of the top there’s an endless series of switchbacks to conquer. On the
4.5-mile climb to the Verde Rim, the trail (No.159 and then 12) separates
from the creek and passes through a forest where pines and oaks provide
immediate shade, and maples and an anomalous stand of aspens promise a
burst of color in the fall. At the Verde Rim Trail (No.161), hikers
will turn south (right) and head to Pine Mountain, where they’ll get
a 360 degree panorama with Horseshoe Lake in the south, the rugged Mogollon
Rim in the east, the Verde Valley to the north and the Bradshaw Mountains
in the west.
After about a mile, hikers will turn west (right) onto the Pine Mountain
Trail (No.14) and zigzag 1.2 miles down the mountain back to the Nelson
Trail and then an additional 3.2 miles to the trailhead.
- Best Time of Year to Hike: May - September
- Distance: 10 mile loop
- Elevation Gain: +-1600'
- Difficulty: Moderate
- weather conditions:
Take Interstate 17 north to the Dugas interchange (Exit 268).
Turn east and follow Forest Road 68 for 17.8 miles to the trailhead.
High-clearance vehicle necessary.
Vista Point Trail, Jerome
Located just up the mountain from the town of Jerome, this is
about a four mile moderate hike. You’ll want to allow plenty
of time to savor the spectacular views of the Verde Valley.
The Vista Point Trail (No. 106) starts near the top of Mingus
Mountain and immediately descends the mountain’s southeastern
edge, introducing panoramas of the Verde Valley, Mogollon Rim
and Colorado Plateau that will accompany you the entire trip.
In winter and spring, you’ll likely encounter snow on this high
altitude hike. By late spring and well into summer, you’ll
find a variety of forest vegetation. The ponderosa pines atop
Mingus Mountain quickly give way to juniper, Gambel oak,
Apache plume and penstemon, then scrub oak.
The south facing slope is a haven for trees, bushes, flowers,
vines and plants of all kinds. Before the trail’s end, a small
rise affords a new view to the north, encompassing the San
Francisco Peaks, Kendrick Peak and Bill Williams Mountain.
Trail No. 106 connects to North Mingus Trail #105 allowing for
a loop back to the top of Mingus Mountain.
This is really a beautiful trail. When I was there during
Memorial Day weekend there were lots of people at the campground
but none of them were on the trails. It was very green and
filled with plenty of flora. We even noticed quite a few bear
droppings along the way. Yep, there are bears in those woods
but we had no problems. The view is worth the drive and the
hike — if you’re up for it.
Bring Plenty of Water: it does get warm there during the day.
Best Time of Year to Hike: spring, summer and fall
Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Change: +-1000'
Proceed north on 1-17 toward Jerome. (Take Cottonwood exit and
head toward Clarkdale and Jerome on highway 89A) Go through the
town of Jerome and proceed up to the submit of Mingus Mountain.
On the left-hand side of the road, you will see a parking lot
and some bathrooms, which is where you will need to turn to go
into the campground.
We will meet at this location at approximately 9:30 AM. Great
place to stop and go to the bathroom if you need to. We will
probably need to leave some cars at this location due to limited
parking at the campground. Proceed down the dirt road (Forest
Road 104) for approximately 2.6 miles to the Mingus Mountain
Campground. At the major LEFT FORK in the road, you will
immediately see the Vista Trailhead.
We’ll probably park a few cars at the opposite end of the loop
(the end of the trail is just up the road a little further to
the hang glider site.) Mingus Trail #105 ends at this hang
Vultee Arch, Sterling Canyon, Sedona
The trail goes 1.7 miles along the bottom of Sterling Canyon.
It is easy to follow as it basically goes along the creek bed.
The creek is dry most of the year. About 0.75 mile in, there
are tall, white sandstone cliffs on the right with Douglas
firs growing in the clefts.
The trail dead ends at a plaque placed at the base of a red
rock outcropping in remembrance of Gerard and Sylvia Vultee
who were killed in an aircraft crash on January 29, 1938. The
crash site was on East Pocket Mesa, more than a mile north
and at a higher elevation than the plaque. On the north side
of Sterling Canyon is the red sandstone arch named for Vultee,
an early aircraft designer from California. Return trip is
by the same route.
Best Time of Year to Hike: May - September
Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Change: +-400'
Range of Elevation: 4800' to 5200'
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Take Interstate 17 to State Hwy 179. Drive northwest on Hwy 179
to Sedona. In Sedona turn left on US 89A going towards Jerome and
Clarkdale. Drive through West Sedona for 3.0 miles to Dry Creek Rd.
Turn right on Dry Creek Road and drive 2.0 miles on this paved road.
Turn right on Sterling Canyon Road FS #152C. Drive 4.3 miles on
this dirt road until the road ends at turn-around.
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updated October 24, 2014