Red Rock Energized ~ Sedona, AZ

Sedona has long held the reputation as a world-wide spiritual mecca, drawing healers, artists, and spiritual guides.  Whether or not you believe in her vortex energy, there is no denying the breathtaking views that can be seen in every direction. Having lived in Sedona for many years, we believe the magnificent red rock formations and evergreen vegetation exudes energy, a year-round feeling of renewal and sense of peace, and is one of the reasons we come back year after year to hike her enchanting trails.

We recently found ourselves back in Sedona to visit friends, get a tune-up for me, and do a little hiking.  Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood is where we tend to stay, a peaceful park that is just far enough away from the tourist pace of Sedona, yet close enough to hiking trails.  Finding a trail we haven’t already tackled is the biggest challenge, particularly Terry, who I think has pretty much hiked them all.  I did manage to introduce him to a newer trail that I hiked a few years ago with a girlfriend and he agreed to tag along with me on one that I had yet to cross off my list.

Here are two hikes we would highly recommend should you find yourself wandering around Sedona’s red rocks:

1)  Slim Shady / Highline / Baldwin / Templeton (with a twist)

Better known by many as the Highline Trail, this was actually designed as a technically difficult mountain biking trail but is equally loved by hikers.  It is a bit of a challenge to stay on course as many trails converge at one point or another.  And with such breathtaking scenery to distract you, you may as well decide you are going to get turned around a time or two.

Views of one of the most-photographed sights in Arizona, Cathedral Rock, can be seen from many angles, and we soon found ourselves getting off our charted course to see if we could pick up a trail that would take us to the highest saddle point on Cathedral Rock.  There is a designated, slick rock trail up to the saddle point but it was on the opposite side of Cathedral Rock from where we were.  But did that stop us?  Nope!

Although we would not suggest this as the soundest or safest way to get to the saddle of Cathedral Rock, what with the bush-whacking and boulder-hopping, it was certainly a unique approach.  What began as a moderate 5-miler ended as a very interesting 9-mile hike.

Our next day’s adventure was to be a bear and Terry’s all-around favorite Sedona hike.  After tackling this mountain, I had to agree.

2)  Bear Mountain

I’m not sure why I never hiked this mountain while we lived in Sedona, as it has always been touted to have some of the most breathtaking views from its peak.  I had decided this visit was the time and I wasn’t leaving Sedona until I had firmly planted my feet on top.  All I can say is wow!

Bear Mountain is a 5-mile hike with a 2000 foot elevation gain over some of the most unusual topography in Sedona.  There are cairns to mark part of your journey but white arrows painted onto the rocks are your true guides to the peak.  There are interesting breaks or decks of changing geology that you pass through, almost as if you traverse three false summits before reaching the true peak.  A section of Apache Limestone moves into Schnebly Hill Sandstone, then onto a deck of swirling Coconino sandstone dotted with manzanita, truly spectacular.

Sedona’s grandeur can be seen without taking to the trails, but we have always believed that the essence of her spirit lies off the paved roads, tucked back into her hidden canyons.

We have settled into our winter home in Southern California, which I will post about in the near future.  It is a change from our existing approach to RVing and we are enjoying it more than I had imagined.  More on that later…

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74 thoughts on “Red Rock Energized ~ Sedona, AZ

  • I’m so glad you have posted this one. I have been looking forward to exploring the trails of Sedona, this winter, and now even more so. I think I will pitch my tent at the same campground, as I had already looked into that, and explore all the trails I can. I am anxious to see as much as I can. Thanks for sharing!

  • I can hardly wait to get back to Sedona and complete Bear Mountain. This time we’ll start before 2:00 so we can finish the whole hike. Wonderful views:)

    Now heading up without a trail to get to an area is just how we do it! We’ll hike together just fine:) I like the sound of that first hike. Why do hikes never shorter than we plan!!

    So good to see the two of you on the trail again:)

    • Bear Mountain definitely should be done in the morning Pam, as it is exposed for most of the way. We were in Sedona during a heat wave and the temps were pushing 90 so we knew we wanted to get back down before it got too warm. This one will be a breeze for the two of you! 🙂

  • You said it. .. I can only agree. .. wow…. I can feel the healing powers from here.. I think scenery like that has a tremendous healing power.. ones mind must really go into rest mode when viewing such beauty ànd a rested mind makes for a healthy body…. this must be one of the most recognisable areas in the world… one I’d love to visit. .. a definite on my bucket list. ….

  • Settled in for the winter in Southern California sounds fantastic. Here we are settled in with our snow shovels at the ready. 🙂
    The photos are superb LuAnn. With that kind of elevation gain you definitely get some incredible vistas!

  • Spectacular scenery and gorgeous hikes! Two that are going on our list, for sure. It’s been many years since we’ve visited Sedona, and we’ve been wanting to return. It looks as though you had the trails to yourselves! Beautiful photos (got a laugh out of the “Pam & John” shot. 🙂

    • We were surprised there were not more hikers on the trails. As for the shot of Terry’s feet, I almost felt like I was plagiarizing by posting it! 🙂

  • Fantastic views of the landscape. I haven’t visited Sedona, it reminds me the Arch National Park in Utah. Southern California is beautiful place to settle for winter 🙂

    • Sedona does resemble Arches NP Amy. I am surprised, with all the traveling you have done, that you have not been to Sedona yet. How is the weather in SA right now?

  • We loved Bear Mountain, though if I were to hike it again I’d stop at that last comfy view area instead of going all the way to the top, the top seemed anticlimatic and hard to get the best views. We love Sedona so much if they didn’t have a water problem (and so many tourists) we’d consider living there. Truly a hiking mecca!

    • I felt the exact same way on the top of Bear Mountain Lisa. The views at some of the “false” summits were so much more special. When we tell people that we once lived in Sedona, the typical comment is “how could you leave”. Unfortunately the traffic during the tourist season is awful, and the water shortage is definitely a concern.

  • LuAnn….thank you so much for this post. We will be in Sedona this winter and want to do some good hiking. We will think about Cathedral Rock but will definitely do Bear Mtn. If you have suggestions of hikes or favorite things to see, please let us know. We would love to hear from a “seasoned” traveler. I did do a search of your blog and found other hikes, etc. you reported on. This is one reason I love following people who have such interesting experiences. Paul and I learn what to try and what to stay away from. Thanks.

    • Pam,

      I would be happy to put together a list of some of the hikes that we have enjoyed the most in Sedona. Having lived there for several years, we covered a lot of ground. 🙂

  • We love hiking in Sedona. It is wonderfully energizing. Bear Mountain goes on our list for our next visit to that area! Beautiful! We are also ‘wintering’ in So Cal, but only til mid-January.

  • The first time I laid eyes on Sedona was from an airplane that Steve piloted and we were in awe. We did hike a trail but could not even remember it. When we get back to this part of AZ i will definitely refer back to your awesome hikes.
    As always great pictures LuAnn… hmmm So Cal?

  • Lovely to see just a little of the area we so enjoyed a few years ago LuAnn . The scale of it … the brightness … and the wonder at your fitness 😉
    Wonderful post .

  • Dead Horse Ranch State Park, you guys certainly know how to name things. It looks such a wonderful place to hike, I would love to join you on one of your excursions, I know i say that a lot but you do entice me so much. I am looking forward to your future posts from a more settled(?) point, either way I shall enjoy our continuing journey.

  • The Highline looks so tough. How long did it take you to hike it? I guess it all doesn’t matter when you the best satisfactions for the eyes … and spirit.

  • sure is nice to see the off the trail scenery and it is gorgeous in the photographs. must be so spectacular in real time. the Highline trail looks rugged to hike so i cannot fathom riding a bike through it. whew! 🙂

  • I love these red sandstone landscapes LuAnn. For a geologist, they’re fascinating, and their outcropping exposure makes them easy to study. BTW, every basic geology textbook will have photos from this area. I hope that you and Terry locate a juicy turkey there in SoCal. Have a fun and decadent Thanksgiving! ~James

  • LuAnn, I hope your are enjoying your “winter” home with lots of warmth and sun! Sounds lovely. We have stayed at Dead Horse Ranch several times and love truly love this park. Happy Holidays to you!

    • We too have stayed at Dead Horse a few times and always enjoy it. We are not in So. Cal and plan to spend the winter here. I have been dealing with some personal issues so have not been blogging for several weeks. Hopefully this will change soon. Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful.

  • Just checking in, don’t want to be a bother, but … You have my email, right? Please write anytime LuAnn, that’s any time that the occasion calls for it, if I didn’t emphasize it enough dear friend and sister of mine! Much love to you, Penny

  • Hi LuAnn and Terry. I hadn’t seen you in the comments for such a long time that I thought I’d look you up and I find that some how I missed this great post about Sedona a place I have wanted to visit for years. No idea how it is that we have never been there been we must rectify that on our next trip west.

    Hope your research doesn’t have to do with our talks at Greenbelt. Your last comment said you are not in So Cal but plan to spend the winter there, so I’m not exactly sure where you are. But no matter. Remember a friend in need is never ever an imposition. I’m sure you would feel that way if someone needed you and I know all your friends do too. Burdens are lighter when shared.

    • Sherry, Thanks so much for your kind words. We are now in So. Cal, planning to spend the winter here. I have been dealing with some personal issues of late, so I appreciate your thoughts. Sometimes for me, I have to take time to process my thoughts and do my research as well. I am always looking for the meaning when faced with challenges. Not to worry, all is good and I hope to be back in the blogging world soon.

  • Hiya Was thinking about you yesterday and today. Been worried about you as we haven’t heard anything. I see from a couple of the comments where you are though, and I am glad you are okay.

    • Hi Al! We are settled into our winter home in So. Cal and I have been dealing with some health issues, but also meeting new friends and doing lots of volunteer work. I will hopefully get back to “normal”, whatever that looks like, very soon. Thanks for checking in and hope all is well with you.

    • We will be spending our winter in So. Cal. Not sure when we will get back to the midwest or east. Our plans now are to spend the upcoming summer and fall in the northwest.

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