An April 2001 trip
to Sedona by jim
Quote: My trip to Sedona included a week of hiking, mountain biking and healthy food amidst some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
The scenery is breathtaking. The red rock canyons and the Grand Canyon will blow you away.
Mountain Fit Hiking Tours made the week as close to perfect as possible. Everything was taken care of and we saw many things we would have missed on our own.
A week of healthy eating included wonderful meals cooked in our rental home by our Mountain Fit guides as well as a couple of nights out at fantastic local restaurants.
Check out my packing list entry for some ideas on what you need to bring for a hiking adventure in Sedona.
Get up in the morning for early morning hike or bike ride. The desert air is very cool and refreshing, plus you get to see the sunrise.
Get a comfortable pack with a water bladder. You will need more water than you imagined.
Break in your shoes before you go. We hiked about 60 miles in 7 days.
Plan an easier hike in the middle of the week. You will need the break and it will give you the opportunity to do some shopping.
Once in Sedona, the town itself is fairly compact (about 4 miles between the edges of town). It is nice to have a car to get around particularly in case it rains. But I rented a mountain bike and used it to get around town and for some great mountain biking. It was fun and I didn’t have to deal with the hassles of parking.
Another option is to get on the Sedona Trolley service. It takes you to all the key points of interest and allows you to get on and off at your leisure. It costs for one tour and if you do both available tours. One tour focuses more on the scenery / parks and the other more on the city and manmade attractions.
To get to the hiking areas (which are all within 10-15 miles of town) you need a car or transportation from a tour company.
The house we stayed in had a fantastic view and lots of windows, so it was easy to relax. Plus, it was located less than a five-minute walk from the main strip in Sedona. All-in-all, a very pleasant experience.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 28, 2001
As for the atmosphere, the setting is very quaint, yet contemporary. I enjoyed the art on the walls thought that everything was laid out very nicely. There is small bar and outdoor dining. It was still spring when we were there so a fire was blazing on the patio. The smell of the juniper was very nice. All-in-all, a great dining experience.
Having said all of these great things, remember fine dining does come at a price. The entrees were about $20+ so we left a pretty penny, but it was definitely worth it. Make sure you have a reservation because it gets pretty busy (even on a Monday night).
1610 West State Route 89A
Sedona, Arizona 86336
+1 928 282 0785
Red Planet Diner
1655 West State Route 89A
Sedona, Arizona 86339
Attraction | "Long Canyon Hike"
The trail was mostly flat but did have a nice incline at the end that provided a great view back into the valley. About halfway into the canyon we went off trail and saw an old Indian encampment. We went up the side of the canyon and had lunch on a flat shelf overlooking the valley. Look for the mushroom shaped rock (in case you are wondering this type of rock formation is called a hoodoo) and turn off the trail there. It’s about 2 miles into the hike.
One thing I really enjoyed about this hike was the various ecosystems along the way. At first the vegetation was mostly bushes and shrubs. As we moved deeper into the canyon the vegetation became more and more lush. We saw alligator junipers, ponderosa pines, douglas firs as well as several more traditional dessert trees and plants including yuccas, agave, and prickly cactus. Several flowers were in bloom and it was quite beautiful.
We spent about 6 hours on the hike which included about an hour for lunch and several stops along the way. If you really pushed it, you can get to the end of the trail in about 45-50 minutes, but you will miss many of the wonderful nuances if you don’t take your time.
Long Canyon Trail
Insider Tip: About 1 ½ miles into the hike you will come to a prominent, dead tree on the left side of the trail. Take a left here and head up into the canyons. If you look closely, you will see the Indian ruins under one of the shelves near the top of the canyon walls. It is a pretty steep hike up to the ruins, but nothing you can’t handle if you are at all in shape. The ruins haven’t been restored, but are in really great shape. The Indians definitely knew a good view when they saw it!
When you get back to the trail, head into the valley. The hike to the end of the valley is very easy. Then you start to go up to the lookout area. I went up this part of the hike pretty aggressively and it was very tiring. Take your time if you need to because the view is definitely worth it. Looking back into the valley, it will seem as if you walked for many, many miles (you did walk almost 5 miles) and what you see is pretty inspiring. The cliffs and the trees form a picture perfect image. I found a "throne" like seat in the side of the cliff. You can sit in this rock chair and look back on your kingdom. Your legs hang over the side of the cliff and you can watch (and hear) the birds swooping by.
I highly recommend this hike both for the scenery and the workout.
About 30-45 minutes outside of Sedona
Note: From the same starting point you can go up Bear Mountain which is much more strenuous.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 28, 2001
15 minutes from Sedona
Attraction | "Little Horse Trail"
Trail Horse Adventures
Dead Horse Ranch State Park
About 10 minutes from downtown Sedona.
Attraction | "Grand Canyon Day Hike"
Since we only had one day, I wanted to see as much as possible. I foolishly endeavored to make it all the way to the bottom and back up in less than five hours. Be forewarned, a sign at the top reads: "Do not attempt to go all the way down and up in one day. This may cause extreme illness or death." Unfortunately, I missed this sign until the end of the hike. Having said that, I enjoyed the challenge of the 12.6 mile round trip and got an absolutely fantastic workout…but I was utterly exhausted at the end. It took me about 1 3/4 hours to get about 1/4 mile from the bottom. I made the choice to turn back there because I was almost out of water and it was a long way to the top. My total round trip time was around 5 hours. If you attempt to go all the way down and back up in one day, take your time and take lots of water! Allow 7-8 hours even if you are in great shape.
The hike back up was grueling. After about 100 yards, I knew it was going to be a tough hike back. It took about 3 hours to go back up and every inch of it was very tiring. The temperature is much higher at the bottom of the canyon (the elevation change is about 5,000 feet), so it was pretty hot when I started back up (around 95 degrees). The difference in temperature from the bottom and the top is typically about 10-20+ degrees. Fortunately I had a large water pouch which lasted for most of the hike. I ran out of water with about 2 miles to go to the top, but I caught up with one of the Mountain Fit guides from our trip and they had extra water. Thank goodness because I was really hurting!! The others in my group were equally exhausted and they only went halfway down. Don’t underestimate the hike.
Take your time, enjoy the views, pay attention to the changing colors (no view stays the same for more than a few minutes), make some friends along the way and drink lots of water. You will remember this hike for a long time!
Grand Canyon National Park
P.o. Box 129
Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023
You get to this trail off of Soldier’s Pass Rd. or Mountain Shadow Rd. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the top and then about 20 minutes to come down and around Chimney Rock Loop (the easier, downhill part of the trip).
When you get to the top of the trail, drop your bike and climb to the top of the rocks next to Chimney Rock. The view is awesome and you will need the rest. Think of it as the reward for your hard work.
If you want a challenge, I highly recommend this ride (in conjunction with Chimney Rock Loop). You may take your lumps (which you can think of as mementos from your trip) but you will feel great when you are done. Plus, you will have some nice war stories. Don’t attempt this ride if you are not in decent shape!
Thunder Mountain Trail
Mountain Shadow Road
Attraction | "Chimney Rock Loop"
Red Rock Loop
Red Rock State Park
Sedona, Arizona 86336
Sugar Loaf Loop is an option after you come off of Sugar Loaf. It is a short, fun ride and not as challenging. Expect narrow trails across the rocks and some tight turns. Once again, this trail is probably best for experienced riders.
Sugar Loaf Trail and Sugar Loaf Loop
Off of Mountain Shadow Road in Sedona.
Biking along Highway 89A
Highway 89A runs through the middle of town
Attraction | "Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village"
Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village
336 State Route 179
Sedona, Arizona 85339
Attraction | "Mountain Fit Health and Fitness Adventures"
Most importantly, we were treated to some of the finest hiking and scenery in the world. The hikes varied in length and intensity, but all of them had much to offer (including flexibility for hikers of various physical fitness levels). The guides were really flexible and also showed me some great biking trails.
The hikes were varied and always seemed to be away from other hikers...thanks to the Mountain Fit guides. We saw everything including ancient Indian ruins, local flora and fauna, local sights and great scenery wherever we went. And we did it from a central home base (so no mid-week packing).
The food was outstanding. I have never eaten so healthy for a seven-day period...and healthy did equal delicious! Every morning our guides prepared a large breakfast (the oat pancakes were my favorite). The ingredients were fresh and organic whenever possible. Bread was baked locally and nice substitutions were made to increase the health benefits (i.e. yogurt instead of whipped cream, fresh produce, etc.). For lunch, they put out a huge spread (sandwich materials, fruits, nuts, granola, etc.) so that everyone could pack a lunch to their liking. Dinners were magnificent. A few selections included fresh Salmon, grilled vegetables, chicken with yogurt verde sauce, garlic roasted pork chops, and many other treats. A couple of evenings we went to local restaurants (which was included as part of the tour price) and had some truly delightful meals.
We stayed at a local home. Each person had their own room and the run of the house. It had great views on all sides, lots of windows, a huge deck and a really nice hot tub (which felt great at the end of a long day of hiking). We also had a massage therapist that came to the home and gave us all a massage (which was included in the price of the tour). I really enjoyed staying in a home as opposed to a hotel or resort.
I don’t go on many tours, because I really like independent travel. However, in this case I wanted an easy vacation. Everything was provided, but I still had lots of flexibility. I had a bike to get around and the other people on the tour were very nice. Everyone on the trip was a trooper. We all got along and had a really nice time.
I had such a good time, I am going to get a bunch of my friends together and go on another Mountain Fit trip!
P.O. Box 6188
If you have 15-20 minutes to spare, this is a nice thing to see. You can park right next to the chapel. The hours are 9 to 5 and there is a small gift shop. The weather wasn’t very nice when we were there so it wasn’t very crowded. Judging by the size of the parking lot, it probably gets a fair number of visitors.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 30, 2001
Chapel of the Holy Cross
780 Chapel Road (east Of State Route 179)
Sedona, Arizona 86336
The downtown strip is a little too touristy for my taste, but a few nice shops are mixed in with the trinket stores. One place I enjoyed in particular was the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. It is a great selection of shops, galleries and restaurants featuring local items and artists.
Charlotte, North Carolina