Sedona’s beauty invites you to stay awhile. No wonder it’s a favorite retreat of artists, spiritualists, and retirees. Driving up to Sedona, Bell Rock greets you with its spellbinding color. Scenic views along highway 179 are numerous and the views are worth a stop. Once you reach Sedona, you are greeted with souvenir and specialty shops, cafes and restaurants for any budget, and numerous galleries and adventure tour companies. We spent a day hiking around Sedona, and I’m convinced there isn’t a bad view anywhere near this charming little town.
We arrived early in the morning, just as the sun peaked over the horizon which seemed to set the red rocks ablaze. These sandstone creations capped by limestone have a high concentration of iron oxide which gives them their crimson coloration. The colors were so vivid it was hard not to stop at every scenic turn off. We went to the airport overlook where we could gaze out over Boynton Canyon, Thunder Mountain and Coffee Pot Rock on one side, and a short hike up a large rock by the road allowed us to gaze over the valley on the other side with Cathedral Rock in the distance.
Nothing was open yet early in the morning in Sedona, so we decided to head for West Fork Trail, a relaxing and beautiful hike north of the town off of highway 89A in Coconino National Forest. On the way, we past a Rainbow Trout Farm, small resorts with cabins along the creek, and Sliding Rock State Park where visitors can literally slide down the natural smooth rock slides intothe cascading waterfall pools. West Fork Trail required a separate entrance fee of $10 from the usual Red Rock Pass, the day hiking pass that is required when exploring the Sedona area. This popular trail winds its way along the Oak Creek Canyon over reflecting pools and tranquil forest paths near sheer red cliffs. Several creek crossings tested our maneuverability, but the enchanting autumn colors of the trees felt like we were walking through a painting.
After West Fork Trail, we drove back towards Sedona and stopped at the Midgeley Bridge. The Huckaby Trail leads down the side of the cliff and connects with Schnebly Hill Road Trail and Munds Wagon Trail along Oak Creek. The view of the canyon cliffs and the creek below are awe-inspiring, but the trail is moderately steep and a true Stairmaster workout.
Back in Sedona, we ate at the Cowboy Club Grille, formerly known as the Oak Creek Tavern in the early days. Sedona settlers would congregate here for meetings, socializing, and good ol’ comfort food which it still serves today. The restaurant retains its original wood walls decorated by artistic members of the Cowboy Artists of America.
Our afternoon hike on Baldwin Trail was located south of Sedona. This was an easy, family-friendly loop trail with relaxed elevation changes and a spectacular view of Cathedral Rock more than half of the time. Templeton Trail connects to Baldwin Trail about a half mile from the starting point (if you go left), meanders along Oak Creek, and leads to a challenging, strenuous hike up to Cathedral Rock.
Sedona invites you to explore and discover her secrets and beauty on over 70 different hikes. The choices are overwhelming and our brief “taste” of Sedona has us wanting more. Next time we’ll plan for at least a week to really experience true Sedona.