Two Of The Best Hiking Trails In Sedona, Arizona

Devil’s Bridge Trail and Doe Mountain Trail

Sedona, Arizona is a hotbed of outdoor excitement with fun excursions for every tier of adventurer. From fast mountain biking to a leisurely round of golf. Off road jeep tours to mind-blowing hot air balloons. In this post, I’m going to talk on hiking, specifically two trails that we did on our recent trip to the beautiful city.

Rachel had just broken one of the toes on her right foot one week before our flight left from Reagan National Airport (DCA) to Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX), so despite her ability to manage the pain and keep it properly bandaged (remember, she had to nurse up an injury in Koh Tao, too), we wanted to keep the trails to beginner-to-intermediate in intensity. That turned out to be just fine, because the two that we did ended with rewarding treks and incredible vistas.

Devil’s Bridge Trail

One of the most popular hikes in Sedona is Devil’s Bridge Trail. We found three places to start from – if you have a 4×4 vehicle with high clearance, you can drive up to the parking lot for the trail and it’s a quick 1 mile hike to the viewpoint. If not, most people park in the Dry Creek Road parking lot and spend most of their hike walking along a dusty, dirt road until they reach the “official” lot. What I recommend is starting on Mescal Trail, which is just a few meters to the right from the end of Boynton Pass Rd. This will give you a more scenic walk.

We woke up at 4:00am for this hike, which is my usual wakeup time for work, but Rachel was surprisingly spry and ready. I made some energy giving breakfast in the form of eggs, tomatoes, and toast (I would later add onions and call it T.O.E. Toast.) I took 5 units of basal insulin and we set off for a twenty minute drive from our resort.

You start into the Mescal trail, which is an easy walk through some low trees, cacti, and yucca. As you pass by a shallow run and through the remainder of the trek, there are dozens and dozens of tiny little frogs hopping out of your way. I think I’ve figured them out to be Western Chorus Frogs because of their size, but I don’t recall them being particularly loud, nor does it fit the behavior section of their Wikipedia page. I will be sure to get a picture of the small amphibians the next time I’m there.

It’s a relatively easy walk without much elevation change as the glow from the sun has finally started to peak above the mountains, giving you just enough light to illuminate the path. By this time, you may start to see some of the nearby hot air balloons being inflated for a sunrise takeoff.

Devil's Bridge Trail, Sedona, Arizona
Panorama from just below the bridge. You’re almost there!

You’ll soon cross over a wide, dusty road into the actual parking lot and onto a wide, smooth path. It’s only about a mile to the finish from here, with a brief section of steep rock scrambling. Here is where your work pays off, as the view is more incredible than any picture can give it justice for. We got to the bridge at 6:35am and there were three parties of people in front of us, waiting to get pictures. Everyone was super nice, however, and swapped photography jobs while the others got to pose. A couple of girls were doing some intense acroyoga poses when we arrived!

My glucose levels had fallen to the mid-60s during this hike, but we had picked up some vegan oatmeal bites from Whole Foods on the way that provided a high-fiber source of carbs for me. In hindsight, I should have stopped to have one every half hour, instead of waiting to get to the top.

Devil's Bridge Trail, Sedona, Arizona
The views are spectacular!

The way back is just the same trail reversed and when you get back to the trailhead, you’ll now have the entire day ahead of you and an incredible hike already notched in your belt.

Doe Mountain Trail

While Devil’s Bridge is one of the most popular trails in Sedona, Doe Mountain Trail is arguably one of the most underrated hikes in the area. We took the same approach to this hike, waking up at 4:00, but we really wanted to get to the peak before sunrise, so we got ready and scarfed down some breakfast much quicker, reaching the parking lot at 5:00am. This lot has a public restroom and requires a $5 parking pass, which is payable with card via a kiosk at the trailhead. I scaled back to 4 units of basal to avoid a low, which kept me at a much steadier blood glucose level.

We started into the path, which was essentially just a series of switchbacks and moderate rock scrambles until you reached the final climb. We were here to beat the sun, so we didn’t stop to take much in. On the way down, however, we were slower and able to appreciate the trail a bit more, including a view of Bear Mountain to the north.

The final ascent is a climb through a narrow cut in the rock. It’s easy, but you’ll need to use your hands.

Rock scramble at Doe Mountain, Sedona, Arizona
The final rock scramble.

Once at the top, a series of markers will lead you to the other side of the mesa and reward you with an amazing view of the valley. We beat the sun to the mountain top and were able to set up on a perch while we watched it climb over the mountains in the east.

I call this trail severely underrated, because it offers 360° views of the area and we shared the top with only one other guy who raced up the trail with the same, sunrise-beating intention.

There is a loop around the top which is fairly easy to stray off of, which we managed to do. The cell reception is actually pretty good, so we used the AllTrails app and followed the perimeter of the mesa until we found the trail again. Going as early in the morning as we did, granted us plenty of time to explore around the top; however, in the later parts of the morning, you’ll want to be aware of the sun and how much its beating down on you in the limited cover.

Hugging the edge of the mesa, we followed a group of hot air balloons as they ascended around the mountain, getting so close that we could hear the whoosh of the flame and the chatter of the ballooneers.

Unparalleled.

The trek back down is fine and when you turn around and see the scale of the mountain you just climbed, you feel really proud. We even got to see one of the hot air balloons land which is much more impressive feat than I had thought – they worked in tandem with a van on the road to land on a trailer it was pulling!

These were two of my favorite hikes I’ve done, and I cannot wait to get back to Sedona to see more of its beautiful scenes.

Have you been to Sedona? What are your favorite trails?

What Is The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon?

As you know, COVID created a gigantic barrier to travel – borders closed, events cancelled, plans forgotten. Workspaces moved home and meetings went digital. The roads were empty (I really enjoyed the highway on my daily commute to work) and everyone stayed inside. While many people developed new at-home hobbies (I definitely did), others embraced the opportunity to get outside into nature, away from the hustle and bustle of busy cities. Tucked away in northern Pennsylvania, near the New York border is a town called Wellsboro where the 47-mile long Pine Creek Gorge starts. It’s commonly called the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.

It’s accessible from any direction, but we drove up from Maryland (a roughly 4-hour drive) as we passed a whole lot of fields, fields, adult video stores, fields, adult video stores, fields, then finally some forest and we knew we were close.

Griffin and a view of the gorge.

We pulled up to our cabin and unloaded everything before venturing to Leonard Harrison State Park. Here, you can stroll along the 0.5 mile Overlook Trail for an incredible view of the gorge or climb down the 2 mile roundtrip Turkey Path to the water below along some switchbacks. Unfortunately for us, the latter was closed due to heavy rains the couple days prior. Leonard Harrison offers plenty of camping options, as well, for those of you who want to bring a long a camper.

The next day we drove up the road to Pine Creek Outfitters who offer canoes, bikes, and rafting. We opted for renting some bikes and heading over to the old Pine Creek rail trail. We really wanted to get some new bikes of our own, but they were virtually unobtainable in 2020, so fingers crossed for being able to find some this Spring.

We rode along US-6 for about a half mile until we crossed an old bridge and began our ride along the creek. It is a gorgeous ride with plenty of animal sightings (big birds make nests along the ridge on the opposite side of the water) and small waterfalls that act is tributaries to the creek. Rachel and I kept wondering about several houses that popped up along the water, wondering who lived there and how they got stuff to their houses. One house even had a gondola that ran over the water to their entrance! The trail has an ever-so-slight gradient so the ride back might be a little harder.

After a little lunch break back at the cabin, we brought Griffin, our adventure chihuahua, and headed out to the other side of the canyon and entered Colton Point State Park. This is much more ‘parking lot for campers’ style than the first park, which had a large, paved walking area. The sun from our first day dried up a lot of the rain and the Turkey Path on this side (they don’t connect at the bottom of the gorge, unless you wade across the creek which is probably frowned upon by the state.) The path down is beautiful and you pass a few small waterfalls that are pretty tranquil and offer solid photography practice.

There are plenty of small waterfalls.

The miles of biking and hiking we did took a toll on our legs, so we wanted to take it easy the rest of the night. Back at the cabin, we wandered the grounds and relaxed for a bit before heading into the town of Wellsboro for the evening. It’s a quaint little town of 3,000-some with a bit of history for those interested. There’s a main street with an old art deco style theater and some restaurants. We stopped in one for a bottle of wine and some dinner to cap off our night.

He kicked our butts on a lot of trails.

If you’re traveling back south from Wellsboro, there’s two places I recommend checking out – Cherry Springs State Park which is said to have some of the best star-gazing in the area or Little Pine State Park, where we decided to get one more hike in.

Little Pine is a perfect place to enjoy a little picnic and if you pull up a map of the park, you’ll see a trail called Lake Shore Trail, which sounds like a simple stroll along the water right? Nope. It was 5.5 miles of steep inclines and mud. After just a few minutes of walking, you’re up along the ridgeline, nowhere near the calm waters below.

Once you’ve finished trudging through the increasingly muddy paths, you’ll come across a grassy meadow where we found several deer bouncing around. The walk is easy here, just be mindful of the direct sun with no shade, and the tall grass that you’ll be exposed to (check for ticks before getting into the car).

Little Pine State Park

If you live in the mid-Atlantic region and want to remain cautious as it seems like more states and businesses are reopening in 2021, I think a nature trip up to Wellsboro and the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon would be well worth it.

Have you been or do you want to? Let me know in the comments section.