Hiking in Sedona

Most of the trail info I post on ScottsdaleTrails relates to local hikes. However, this article (series of posts) appeared on AZCentral recently and I thought I’d share.

I used to fly up to Sedona regularly for breakfast or lunch at the airport cafe. Landing at that airport is a bit like landing on an aircraft carrier (which thankfully I’ve never had to do) because it is on a mesa in the middle of a sea of beautiful red rock formations.

There are some nice trails right around the airport mesa, and of course many trails in the Sedona area. Here are a few:

Trails and treats in Sedona

3 gorgeous hikes and 3 ways to unwind afterward

Slide show: Sedona Oohs and Aahs

Everyone knows Sedona is full of stop-you-in-your-tracks scenery. It’s also full of ways to reward yourself after a beautiful day on the trail. Here are three hikes packed with eye candy, plus three ways to pamper yourself after your effort.

Say ooh:

Hike the Turkey Creek Trail in the Village of Oak Creek to see a pretty part of red-rock country that gets less traffic than some better-known trails.

The hike begins in thickets of juniper, scrub oak, jojoba, piƱon pine and Spanish bayonet, then widens into an open, flat, grassy stretch with sweeping views of the Three Sisters and Napoleon’s Tomb.

A number of side trails branch off here and there. Huge cairns help you stay on the main trail. At about 1.5 miles, you’ll come to Turkey Tank, an old stock pond. From here, the ups and downs become more pronounced, and soon the trail simply goes up. Follow the switchbacks to a saddle with vast views to the north and south. The trail continues from here, but this is a good turnaround point.

To return to the trailhead, go back the way you came. Allow about 4 hours for the moderate 6-mile round trip.

Note: The last mile of the drive to the trailhead is unpaved. At first, it’s good graded dirt, fine for any car. After a half-mile it turns quite bumpy and is best for high-clearance vehicles. There are parking spots at the trailhead as well as just before the road turns bad.

— Ron Dungan

Say ahh:

Treat your feet — or your whole body — to a relaxing treatment at Sedona’s New Day Spa. The 30-minute express pedicure ($35) included grooming, polish and a light foot massage and left my feet feeling rejuvenated. If I’d had more time and money, I’d have gotten a deep-tissue massage ($130 for 60 minutes). The spa has a full menu of facials, nail services and body work.

New Day Spa is in a storefront on Sedona’s main drag, but you don’t realize that once you’re inside. Calming music plays softly, and the atmosphere is serene. There’s a comfy lounge where customers can relax while waiting for their treatments. The day I was there, a table was laid out with lemon water, cucumber water, tea and numerous snacks, including grapes, cheeses, crackers, dried fruit and nuts.

Details: 1449 W. Arizona 89A, Sedona. 928-282-7502, sedonanewdayspa.com.

— Jill Cassidy

Say ooh:

The Doe Mountain Trail is not very long, nor does it gain much elevation. But it’s one of the best little hikes in the region. You can wander the mesa top for hours, taking in grand views of some of Sedona’s most prominent landmarks.

The rugged orange bluff of Doe Mountain looks a little daunting from the trailhead. But the trail isn’t bad at all as it grinds steadily uphill through juniper, scrub oak, manzanita, yucca and prickly pear.

As you near the mesa’s rim, the trail narrows and gets considerably steeper. In places, it’s almost like a set of rocky stairs, and the last few feet lead up a narrow rock chute. Several large cairns mark the end of the trail, but your hike is far from over.

Before you explore the mesa top, make a mental note of where the trail reaches the rim for when you’re ready to descend.

Although thick, scrubby vegetation covers the top of the mesa, small trails crisscross the area, making it fairly easy to get from one side to the other. No single place offers a 360-degree view at the top, but virtually the entire perimeter consists of bare, rocky ledge, so you’ll have a wide variety of vantage points.

Enjoy the views as long as you wish before heading back down. Allow about an hour for the moderate, 1.6-mile round-trip hike along the trail and at least another hour to explore the mesa top.

— John Stanley

Say ahh:

For more than 25 years, L’Auberge de Sedona has offered an upscale getaway along the banks of Oak Creek. A $25million upgrade in 2011 spruced up the cabin-style cottages and added 20 new rooms with broad views of red-rock country.

The staff goes out of its way to make you feel welcome. Any stress will melt quickly as you stroll past flowerbeds, ponds and fountains, or relax in wooden chairs by the creek. Fine dining is just steps away.

The lodge serves complimentary beer and wine during happy hour, 5-7p.m. daily. The Spa at L’Auberge de Sedona has all the face, body, hand and foot treatments you could hope for. If you like, have your massage in your room or in a creek-side cabana. Complimentary yoga classes are available.

The restaurant has indoor dining, but creek-side tables are the way to go, weather permitting. The sound of the water is always in the background. The resort offers a Sunday champagne brunch that is well worth the $54 price and the calories.

Details: 301 L’Auberge Lane, Sedona. 928-282-1661, lauberge.com.

— Ron Dungan

Say ooh:

Even in a landscape renowned for scenic wonders, Cathedral Rock stands out. As you approach Sedona from the south, this dramatic cream- and salmon-colored formation stands as a sort of gateway to the backcountry marvels beyond. Impressive from a distance, it’s absolutely spectacular up close.

See for yourself by hiking the Cathedral Rock Trail up to the base of the cliffs and pillars that stand at the center of the formation. Although it’s only about three-quarters of a mile each way, the trail gains more than 700 feet of elevation, comparable to the grade on Camelback Mountain or Piestewa Peak.

The first stretch takes you through a scrubby mix of pine and juniper, mesquite, prickly pear and jojoba. Just a few minutes along you reach a slickrock area. To reach the saddles between the cliffs and pillars, bear right onto the signed Templeton Trail, walk about 50 yards then head left, up the Cathedral Rock Trail.

Large basket cairns (rocks enclosed within a cylindrical wire frame) show the way across the slickrock.

The most exciting part of the hike comes when you clamber up a steep cleft, using toeholds and handholds chipped into the rock. Although it appears daunting from below, it’s much easier than it looks.

The top of the cleft is a good place to pick out landmarks. Look for Wilson Mountain to the north-northeast, Capitol Butte to the north-northwest and the Cockscomb to the northwest. Once you reach the main saddle, 15 to 20 minutes beyond the cleft, you can see Jerome and the Mingus and Woodchute mountains to the west.

Return to the trailhead the way you came. Allow about two hours for the 1.5-mile round trip.

— John Stanley

Say ahh:

Ken’s Creekside American Bistro, a stylish eatery perched at the edge of Oak Creek, takes advantage of its gorgeous setting with 70 outdoor seats plus 40 indoors. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer nice red-rock views.

Ken’s happy-hour specials are a perfect way to replace calories after a hike, with half-price drinks and appetizers. There are five beers on tap, including locally brewed Sedona Pale Ale, as well as a good selection of wines. We got thirsty just watching the bartender mix up the prickly-pear margaritas.

Grilled bruschetta ($8) is topped with triple-cream Brie, roasted tomato, fresh basil and olives. The roasted-eggplant dip ($13) is not a pasty puree but a flavorful and textural melange served with pita bread, olives, feta cheese and tomato slices.

After you’ve sampled the appetizers and had a drink, you may be persuaded to stay for dinner. The eclectic menu changes weekly, emphasizing tapas and communal dishes that range from crab cakes and barbecued quail breasts to crispy French-style pizzas. The ahi tuna burger ($17) is a favorite.

Details: 251 Arizona 179, Sedona. 928-282-1705, kenscreekside.com.

— Ron Dungan

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