Sedona is famous for breathtaking scenery with its massive red rock formations, but we’d also heard there were some pretty incredible trails in this part of Arizona.
Just over a six-hour drive from San Diego, I knew I had to check it out these trails for myself. So, I came up with a plan, invited some friends, packed up, and headed out for a long weekend of wheeling.
Any good trip requires a little planning. Here’s what I did to ensure that our Sedona adventure went without a hitch:
Set a date
Sent out invitations to small group of Jeeping friends with capable rigs
Contacted the local Sedona ranger station for information about trails and potential closures due to inclement weather
Watched several YouTube videos with trail reviews for the area
Used the Arizona Trail Guide to plan trail runs for each day, taking into account distance, difficulty, and duration
Plotted all the GPS routes on a map
Sent a detailed agenda to everyone in the group
After two months of planning, we finally headed across state lines from Southern California to Arizona for our off-roading adventure.
Most of our group made their way to Sedona on a Friday. We all met up for food, drinks, and camaraderie at the Sedona Pizza Company that evening, which was a short walk from our hotel. If you visit the area, I highly recommend stopping in for some pizza. They have a pretty good selection of beers and the margherita pizza was pretty good.
The town itself is pretty touristy, but there are some very unique shops and plenty of spas if you need to relax after a hard day on the trail (or your wife comes along and opts to stay in town).
We stayed at Orchards Inn, which my wife really enjoyed because it was in walking distance of several restaurants and stores, making it easy to explore a bit of the town.
Hitting the Trails: Day 1
Bright and early the next morning, we met up at the Coffee Pot Restaurant, which came highly recommended and was just a few miles from our first trailhead. After filling up, we aired down, did a quick gear check, had a short drivers’ meeting to discuss plans for the day, and headed out.
The first trail on our list was Broken Arrow, which is rated DIFFICULT. It was the one we were most excited about and it did not disappoint.
This 3.8-mile-long trail had some great obstacles. There were rocks, deep ruts, steep climbs, and narrow technical sections at almost every turn and views of the red rocks never got old. As we climbed to the top of Devil’s Staircase, our anticipation rose too because we knew what was waiting on the other side. Devil’s Staircase is known for its steep decline with off-camber rocks and ruts. The descent was challenging and fun all at once, especially because all the rain that morning had made the rocks slick.
We had a blast the whole way down.
After our descent, one Jeep in our group that was a little more adventure-seeking than the rest of us decided they need a little more excitement. They just had to see if they could make their way back up the incline to the top. Without a doubt, watching Little Big Jeep hammer their way up might have been the highlight of the day.
Broken Arrow is a very popular trail and we must have come across at least 15 guided Jeep tours along the way. If you don’t own your own rig, that might be a great way to check out the trails in Sedona. But it didn’t look they were having nearly as much fun as we were.
Not even close.
We decided to stop for lunch and soak in the scenery as we prepared for the next trail of the day, Soldier Pass, which is just a few miles down the road.
Soldier Pass, also a DIFFICULT trail, had some obstacles, but it wasn’t as difficult as Broken Arrow. Once again, we found amazing scenery of red buttes and tree-lined canyons around every corner. In addition to the views, there are two destinations along this trail you won’t want to miss.
The first one we stopped at was Devil’s Kitchen, a massive sinkhole. There are no rails, so watch your step if you want to say out of the kitchen. The second place to stop is the Seven Apache Pools, seven shallow pools that reflect the red rocks and sky. It’s truly remarkable.
Schnebly’s Hill, which is rated EASY, was a nice break for our third and final trail of the day. As we were exploring, mother nature decided to turn on the water works. But hey, what’s a little mud? Not to mention, the rain made the waterfalls coming off the rocks even more scenic than they already were. This trail was so easy that you don’t really need 4-wheel drive.
A gate was closed halfway through the trail, which the rangers will do during certain times of the year and for specific weather conditions, but it didn’t bother us because the spectacular Sedona views at this spot were breathtaking.
Hitting the Trails: Day 2
On the second day, we all met up at the Coffee Pot again before airing down and heading out to the Red Rock Powerline Trail. At just over 30 miles roundtrip, the trail took up the whole day. Even though it’s rated MODERATE/DIFFICULT, aside from a couple of small obstacles that required high clearance, it was that bad at all.
The mud on this trail was thick from rain the night before. It made our tires slick and reduced traction, which made things a little interesting going up the side of Black Mountain, the up and back detour we took off the Red Rock Powerline Trail. And then there was the cliff to one side – a no-barrier, sheer drop-off cliff. Between that and our gummed-up tires, I may have been white-knuckling it a little bit.
We took another offshoot from Red Rock Powerline called Outlaw Trail, rated MODERATE, where you can unleash your inner Indiana Jones. At the end of this trail there were some ancient Native American ruins that blew us all away. These ruins date back to the 1100’s and seeing so much of it still standing was very cool. If you make it to Sedona, you don’t want to miss the spot.
You can go straight there by taking a flat dirt road, but the Red Rock Powerline Trail is the better route. Why drive on a flat road when you can encounter challenging obstacles, amazing scenery, and diverse terrain? After all, isn’t that why you own an off-road vehicle?
Red rocks. Great friends. Amazing trails. That pretty much sums up our off-roading adventure in Sedona, Arizona. And we can’t wait to go back and do it again.
In this video, we headed across state lines to Sedona, Arizona for a trip we had been planning for two months. We knew Sedona was scenic with all the red rocks, but we also heard there were some amazing trails out there that we needed to check out. So we packed up and headed out for a long weekend of wheeling with some good friends.