Sedona Hikes – West Fork

West Fork

 

The West Fork Trail is widely acclaimed as the most beautiful trail in Sedona, with good reason. Its views are breathtaking.  It’s features are awe-inspiring.  Its magnificence can be seen at every point along this journey.  It’s wonder is captivating throughout the duration of the hike.  I highly recommend that everyone experience this opportunity while in Sedona.  It is a hike that you will never forget.

 

Rating

 

This trail is rated easy. And aside from very minimal inclines and declines and a few trips across the river on stepping stones, it is.  Round trip its about six miles in length.  Three exciting miles in and three beautiful miles back out.  Unless you are the adventurous type and decide to keep going when you reach the end, you’ll have the option of another eleven miles.  I’ll tell you more about that in a bit.

 

Terrain and views

 

This hike begins at the West Fork Trail parking lot less than 10 miles from downtown Sedona. As you enter the graveled passage to Oak Creek, you’ll pass a beautiful field of wild flowers.  Bring your camera, you’re going to want to remember this! Across the Oak Creek bridge you will meander toward the trail to Meyhew’s Lodge.

 

Just a short jaunt in, you will cross West Fork Creek for the first time.  Your exciting adventure has just begun.  In only a few minutes you will see sights completely unique to this hike.  With cavernous corners eroded in rock by waters that once were, with smooth and curved surfaces carved in stone and  beautiful still waters rest where raging currents one churned against the earth, it is incredibly difficult to describe the wonder of such a place.  It can only be experience by the senses and only to those who take the effort.

 

You will cross the stream three more times before entering a new environment of trees and open air.  You will begin to see the high cliffs protruding stories and stories above the canyon floor.

While still following the creek, the rock formations you will see are magnificent.  Boulders the size of semi trucks are lying on the ground.  You look around and marvel at the jumps these rocks took to free themselves from the surrounding cliffs.  Imagine the impact as they crashed to the ground.  It is breathtaking.  

 

End of the trail

 

Nearing the end of this well-traveled trial, you will make an easy climb using rock stepping stones before descending down to the end of the trail.  You will find that there is no question as to whether or not you have reached the end.  There is absolutely no where to go from there unless you are prepared for a swim.  The end of this trail is a dead end into a stream with steep towering cliffs on either side.
If you are determined to keep going, you can wade into the deep and continue the journey right through the stream.  There are another 11 magnificent miles if you are willing.  But plan for an overnight trip and a change of clothes.  And do not attempt this hike if you are not familiar with the area and the conditions in Arizona. This post has been sponsored by travelocity.com. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Phoenix or up north while you’re hiking, visit their website here for some great hotel deals!

Sedona Hikes – Soldiers Pass

Soldier Pass

 

Soldier Pass Trail is located in the Coconino National Forest.  This forest’s diversity ranges from the red rocks of Sedona to alpine tundra.  It consists of mountains and canyons and you’ll find lakes and creeks scattered throughout.  This particular two mile hike will lead you north on your journey across Soldier Pass.  Here you will experience desert like landscapes and plenty of incredible views.  Convert this three mile hike into a five mile loop by including Brin’s Mesa Trail.

 

Rating

 

This trail is rated moderate on the way up, but is an easy descent of about 450 feet.  At the summit of this mesa, the surrounding peaks and downtown Sedona come into view.  It is here that you will fall in love with this beautiful region all over again.

 

About one mile in, the terrain becomes a stone-step climb to the top.  From there it levels out and takes a downward slope with amazing views.

 

What to Expect

 

The first half of this trail is typically very busy.  There is also a Jeep trial that follows the path.  Frequent tours by Jeep will be conducted nearby.  Along the way, there will be opportunity for shade at first.  After about a mile and a half, the trail begins to inline steeply for about a quarter mile.  From there, the views begin to open up.

 

Views Along the Way

 

Sedona hikes offer incredible diversity and this hike does not disappoint.  Along the way, you will see much of the beauty of the Sedona landscape, including two natural arches, the Devils Kitchen, and the Seven Sacred Pools and the Sphinx Rock Formation.    From the Soldier Pass Trail, you can catch a glimpse of the Devils Kitchen Sinkhole, but if you want to get a closer look, you’ll have to leave the trail which can be re-joined just north of the sinkhole.  This sinkhole was recorded to be formed in 1880 when the ground gave way with a thundering crash and a massive plume of dust.  At approximately 150 ft in diameter and close to 80 feet deep, the Seven Sacred Pools are a series of natural pools carved in the bed rock of the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness.  They are replenished by a seasonal stream.  The Sphinx can be seen at the trailhead of Soldiers Pass.  This unique rock formation towers over the Devils Kitchen Sinkhole.  

 

About 1.3 miles from the trial head you will find a side trail that routes you to the Soldier Pass Arches.  Although, a little challenging, you can reach two of the three arches.  The third is dangerous and not recommended as you will be navigating a narrow trail on the face of the cliff.

 

Directions to Soldier Pass Trail
Soldier Pass is located west of Sedona.  Off Highway 89A, take Soldier Pass Road.   Follow the signs that will lead you to the trailhead.  Be sure to be out by 6:00 pm or you’ll be locked in.  The park closes at 6. If you break down on your way to the trail, we recommend calling Poly’s Towing, the best towing company in Arizona.