Ash Huang is an independent designer, illustrator and writer. You can find her at ashsmash.com or on Twitter as @ashsmash. Ash spends much of her time clacking away at her laptop and picking up strange hobbies. You may mistake her for a giant squirrel and/or cookie monster. It wouldn’t be the first time.
Sedona is one of my favorite places on Earth. I visited Sedona for the first time thirteen years ago and it made such an impact on me that I’ve centered a whole cross country road trip on getting there. It’s definitely a hiking town. But with a plethora of hikes to choose from, I was paralyzed, as I only had three days to hit the trails. Cue hours of intense research. There’s something for everyone — easy scenic views, scrambles up slide rock, wending through canyons.
Broken Arrow Trail
How long: 3.5 miles round trip, we ended up turning back after a mile or so because of time constraints.
This trail is an intimate hike very close to Sedona’s city center. The drive in is rugged (no pavement… some artful driving is required) and only wide enough for one vehicle to pass at a time. You’ll see a lot of jeep tours coming in, but they’re separated from the walking/mountain biking trail. Everyone is very polite and will tell you how many vehicles are in their party. Take Morgan Road from 179 and drive all the way to the end. Where it seems to just be dirt? Drive through there. This will take you to a parking lot. I did this in a Toyota Echo and saw a fair share of Priuses, so you’ll be okay.
This hike is quiet and stunning. You get to see formations up close. The trail is a little less formal, going over stretches of rock. Look for white marks that will lead you back to the path.
Airport Mesa Loop
How long: 3.5 miles round trip
This is the longest hike we did. It’s great for dizzying views of the city. Watch prop planes land at the top of the mesa and see many of Sedona’s most famous rock formations. I suggest going in the morning, the light over the land is stunning.
How to get there: From 89A, follow signs for the airport. To the left, you’ll see a parking lot. This is the beginning of the trailhead. However, before you do that, I’d suggest you keep driving up to the top of the mesa. There’s a big parking lot to the left, and a scenic view spot.
Come back down and park in the trailhead parking lot. To your immediate left is the Airport vortex. You’ll know because there will probably be people on it. Sedona is famous for vortexes, which are tunnels of uplifting energy. I’m dubious, but it was hard to be anything but uplifted with a view like this.
Walk the trail from here. It’s a slow and steady climb with very little dramatic incline.
There are options for other trails towards the north side of the loop. I was getting hangry, so we continued on the trail. It ends across the street from the trailhead parking lot.