Posts Tagged ‘Sedona’

Sterling Pass / Vultee Arch

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Originally hiked October of 2010, solo, this was a straightforward hike where nothing really failed or went wrong. I started at 10am or so, and made it back before 5pm. You will not see my car in the video because I left it at Manzanita campground, where I was camping, about a quarter mile down the road.

All of this, of course, in research for Five Star Trails: Flagstaff and Sedona.

While I wrote the hike as combined trails, but that was for convenience. If you have to make a choice, suffer the climb and take the Sterling Pass trail. Sterling pass is steep on its way up and then down from its’ namesake, but it has by far the better scenery, and is more easily accessible by vehicle, having some limited parking right on the side of 89A.

Vultee Arch trail, in contrast, follows the drainage up the canyon, which is not unpleasant, but not really five star. Plus, you have to bump all the way down Dry Creek Road which test both patience and suspensions.

The Forest Service has this to say about the trail:

The trail dead ends at a bronze plaque placed in memorium for Gerard and Sylvia Vultee who lost their lives in an aircraft crash on January 29, 1938. The actual crash site is more than a mile north and at a much higher elevation, on East Picket Mesa.

There’s a You Tube Video:

Wilson Mountain

Friday, December 12th, 2014


Wilson Mountain  and North Wilson

DATE: 10/30/10



END TIME: 5:30p




Ben and I hiked up North Wilson Trail  #123 to its juncture with  Wilson Mountain Trail #10, which we took to both look-out points up on the top of the mountain, then down Mount Wilson Trail to the Midgely Bridge Trailhead. My wife (and Ben’s mother) was kind enough to drop us off and pick us up.

Mount Wilson Trail goes up the south side of the mountain and North Wilson Trail goes up the north side of the mountain. They meet near the top, making this an easy car shuttle. I have been surprised by how often I have to back up and explain that we did not climb the mountain twice.

North to south is acceptable in the winter time. North Wilson is the steeper of the two, and I prefer to go up the steeper side and down the gentler side. In hotter months, though, North Wilson has shade, so that’s where you want to find yourself come afternoon.

As the You Tube video will painfully demonstrate, there was a lot of wind up top, and that did not help my nasal congestion at all. Also, some locals call it Mount Wilson, but its Wilson Mountain on any map.

Ben is now taller than I am.

Here are some notes and photos on the You Tube:



Slide (sigh!) Fire Update

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

So Oak Creek Canyon north of Slide Rock State Park is essentially on fire. This includes the West Fork of Oak Creek, and the famous and popular hiking trail that follows it.

Wilson Mountain and even Sterling Pass are not within the known fire boundaries, which starts just north of Slide Rock State park, and continues north up the canyon. At this writing, though, local particulate levels are listed as “Unhealthy”, AZ89A is closed, and very likely any local parking within hiking distance will be monopolized by service vehicles.

The press release says:

The Slide Fire, reported just before 4 pm May 20, is burning in Oak Creek Canyon just north of Slide Rock State Park. Closures include Highway 89A from Sedona to Fort Tuthill in Flagstaff and Forest Road 535 off Highway 89A. Power has been shut off by APS from Slide Rock, north through the canyon.   An approximate 2 to 3-mile stretch of area from Slide Rock State Park north toward the Sterling Springs Hatchery has been evacuated, as well as the East Pocket Forest Service Lookout Tower. Evacuees are being relocated to Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff.

Photo from the US Forest Sevice

The InciWeb site can provide updates better than I can:


West Fork was chock full of gorgeous foliage of all kinds, but also of deadwood and dry brush. It will be decades before it becomes anywhere near the kind of scenery it was five days ago.




Cathedral Rock

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

I have nothing really clever. My hike suggestion is Pass Mountain (or Fish Rock Pass if you want a little adventure, both from the same trailhead in Apache Junction.

And now…

Behind the Hike: Cathedral Rock


Featured in Five Star Trails – Flagstaff and Sedona


Hike 1

DATE: 8/23/10



END TIME: 6:45p




Hike 2

DATE: 9/10/0






I spent a month in Sedona in relation to my day job, and got one hike in. One. This one. And I couldn’t really use it – I had to come back.

(I have written about this earlier).


The first hike started from the near trailhead and went right up the rock – the easy hike that tourists do in sandals. Nothing wrong with the experience, I had a good chat with a  Forest Service volunteer, but it wasn’t enough.


The second hike, with Ben, came in from the north along Baldwin Trail, and simply adding that short section doubled the quality of the experience.


You need a Red Rock pass for either approach.


Ben and I met a local woman on that hike who was very helpful in explaining vortex phenomena, and described herself as a film-maker. I wrote her contact info in my little notebook that I have since lost. If she’s reading this, [how to contact]


The extra mileage on the second trip came from Ben and I following a spur trail along the creek towards Moon’s Crossing – not part of the hike.


Easiest of the Must Do Before You Die Sedona hikes. Also, a vortex site.

You Tube Video:



Bell Rock and Broken Arrow

Friday, January 20th, 2012

It’s going to be highs of room temperature in Phoenix for the foreseeable future. I may never wear a jacket in daylight in this city ever again.

This weekend: go to the Superstitions – anywhere in the Superstitions.

Need specifics? Go do Bluff Springs Loop

From the Tonto Guide (Day and Overnight Hikes: Tonto National Forest).

(The cover photo was taken somewhere in that area.) (Not by me.)

Now, the behind-the-hike for Five Star Hikes in Flagstaff and Sedona:

Bell Rock and Broken Arrow


DATE: 10/23/10

COMPANIONS: Ben + his friend


END TIME: 7:45p


OFFICIAL MILES: 10 mile car shuttle


HIGH ELEVATION: 4600 at 9 miles


2nd Hike on 11/17/10

This was originally conceived as a single hike car-shuttle – and if you do that it’s 5 hours of awesome – but start in the morning. You can intuit from my end time what happened.

We started at Bell Rock Trailhead south of Bell Rock, and ended the day (or rather started the evening) at Morgan Road Trailhead at the north terminus of Broken Arrow.

The reason this became two hikes in the book, though, is that both trails are popular enough and cool enough on their own to warrant separate entries. And the format calls for easier hikes rather than adventure marches.

We got lost at Chicken Point. I mention a side trail in the Broken Arrow description called the Jim Bryant Trail. I discovered that because we went a good mile into the wilderness following those scattered cairns across the ravines before we concluded that whatever trail this was – it wasn’t Broken Arrow. I found its name on a map later.

By the time we found our way to Chicken Point, the sun was going down in one direction and clouds were gathering in the other. We ended up following the jeep road back to the trailhead – roads are much easier to follow in the dark than trails.

A few weeks later I came back for Broken Arrow, and other than some camera difficulties (my camera died completely soon afterwards) the hike went well.

Why yes – there is a you tube video, mostly chronicling the hike between the two trails.


Bell Rock to Broken Arrow on YT


Airport Mesa

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

“Need anything from me this weekend?”

“Nope. Can’t think of a thing…”

“GREAT! I’m going hiking.”

“No! Wait! You know, there is this one thing – or maybe six…”

So I didn’t hike Bluff Springs or anywhere else that weekend.

If you can tear yourself away this weekend, go to Estrella Mountain Regional Park. Not from my guidebook, but there will never be better weather for it.

Now, as promised, more behind-the-hike stuff from 5 Star Trails Flagstaff and Sedona


DATE: 15 April 2010


START:  1pm             END: 3:35pm

ACTUAL TIME: about 2.5 hours

ACTUAL MILES: about 4.

This was the first hike I did for the guidebook, with the old DVR and the old GPS and the old logic about how hike descriptions should go.

Most sources do this hike counter-clockwise, but I did it clockwise. So there!

Airport Mesa is properly known as Tabletop Mesa, but everyone calls it Airport Mesa for obvious reasons.

As of this writing, there is no functioning restaurant at the airport. I mention this because a few older guidebooks mention one.

The Table-Top sidetrack is totally worth it.

As mentioned in the text, you can see Red Rock High School from the trail. I spent the better part of August 2010 working there as part of my day job. You might think this make hiking around Sedona easier, but I was the only one of 4 crew guys with a car, and we were camped at the Super 8 in Cottonwood, so by the time I got those guys settled I had less than 2 hours of daylight left. It actually set me quite a bit back.

But we discovered the Red Planet Diner, and that made the guidebook.

This is the You Tube companion piece.

Lime Kiln Trail

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011


A hike recommendation for every weekend.

This weekend I recommend Vineyard Trail . But it would be a fine weekend to do the hike below as well.

The cold is coming down in Flagstaff, so we’re going to skip down to Sedona and cover those hikes for a few months in our ongoing behind-the-hike series for 5 Star Trails Flagstaff and Sedona.

Lime Kiln Trail

DATE HIKED: 5-10-10

COMPANIONS: K (she did not want to be identified in the book, and I’m presuming the blog either.)


END TIME: 6:30p

TOTAL MILES:  14.6 (but some mileage didn’t make the original GPS reading).


I dropped the flag on my GPS unit at the Lime Kiln site, which was about .4 miles from where I left pavement in Dead Horse Ranch State Park. In my defense, there are several routes through DHRSP  that will lead to this point.

Even at 14.6, its the single longest one-way mileage in the guide.

Part of our decision to do the trail south-north (really SW-NE) was for the reasons listed in the book: we didn’t want to face late afternoon in the low desert (highs that day were in the 90’s). The other reason was that K came in from north, and had only the one day.

If you are camping in Dead Horse, then you want to start at Red Rock State Park. Enjoy the park (there’s a fee) then park you car outside the gate anyway (because they lock them at 5pm). You’ll need a Red Rock Pass for this. If you’re starting up Schuerman Mtn by 11 am, you’ll be back in camp before dark.

This is ABSOLUTELY a car-shuttle hike.

Here’s the YouTube clip

The term “redneck cul-de-sac” made it all the way to the next-to-final draft.

I had to make a second trip to pick up description and GPS data for Equestrian Trail S. I don’t have a date for that – it was tacked onto another hike day.