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December 9, 2008

Sedona Mountain Biking Rides

Filed under: General Mountain Bike Travel, MTB Travel — anotherheader @ 7:01 am

The view looking back towards Broken Arrow Trail

The view looking back towards Broken Arrow Trail

We’ve made twelve trips to Sedona Arizona over the past eleven years, usually over Thanksgiving. It ranks as one of the best places to ride though it still seems to be off the radar for most of the mountain biking community. We rarely see other riders when we have been there.

Sedona has an extensive network of trails that surrounds the town. Rides are constructed by linking trails to make larger loops and can almost always be done as ride in ride out loops. While guidebooks like Cosmic Ray’s give excellent descriptions of the individual trails and shorter loops, they generally don’t tell you how to link the trails together to make longer loops. In this entry, I’ll share a few of our favorite longer loop rides. These loops can be joined at any point. A map like Cosmic Ray’s is necessary to find the trails if you are not intimately familiar with Sedona’s trail network.

More pictures from Sedona:

View of West Sedona from the top of Brewer Trail

View of West Sedona from the top of Brewer Trail

General Items for riding in Sedona:

Best times to go:

October through March

Best area to stay in:

Up Town or West Sedona gives the best ride in ride out options. Staying in the Village of Oak Creek makes for less convenient loop rides.


Use Slime tubes. Thorns abound and flats are common, even with Slime.

Kevin on the drop below Chicken Point on Little Horse

Kevin on the drop below Chicken Point on Little Horse

The Loops:

Ride 1: The Big Loop

Duration: 5+ hours


For us, this is the preeminent loop. It is long and, like all riding in Sedona, technical in sections (Broken Arrow and Brewer come to mind). You need to be a strong rider to do this one. The ride goes through some of Sedona’s most scenic areas with the views from Broken Arrow Trail, Templeton Trail near Cathedral Rock, and the vista from the saddle entrance to Brewer Trail being nothing short of spectacular. It feels like a ride through a national park.

The Loop:

Broken Arrow–>Little Horse–>HT–>Templeton (take a right)–>Cross Oak Creek at Red Rock Crossing–>Take the road a short distance to Old Post–>Climb Old Post–>Climb Carrol Canyon–>Ridge Trail towards West Sedona–>Climb Bandit Trail–>Take the left on Airport Loop and continue to climb–>Cross the road to the Saddle and Brewer Trail–>Descend Brewer until you reach the road.

If necessary, a short road ride will close the loop.


The creek crossing at Red Rock Crossing can be impassable at high water levels.

*Take the left hand split at the bottom of Little Horse followed by the nearby right hand split to get to HT most directly.

Midgely Bridge (HDR) at the end of Huckaby Trail

Midgely Bridge (HDR) at the end of Huckaby Trail

Ride 2: The Huckaby Loop


Around 4 hours, though this can be extended or shortened (a bit)


This loop spans the northern areas of Sedona and crosses Oak Creek coming up under Midgely Bridge. The trail is particularly scenic near the crossing of Oak Creek on Huckaby Trail. The technical challenges come in short segments and are walkable. Particularly fun is the step section near the bottom of Huckaby Trail.

The Loop:

Climb Schnebly Road–>Enter the trail head and take Huckaby towards Uptown Sedona–>Climb up under Midgely Bridge–>Connect to Jim Thompson Trail–>Connect to Jordan Trail–>Connect via road to Sunrise Trail–>at the bottom of Sunrise, connect via road and climb up to the Brewer saddle–>Brewer Trail–>Connect, if desired, by road to Schnebly Road.


Most of the options for this loop are off the Jordan Trail. The ride can be shortened substantially by taking Jordan Road down at the end of Jim Thompson and connecting by road. Adding Soldier Pass Trail and/or Teacup Trail can extend this loop. There are other options off of Jordan Trail itself, but you are left to find these for yourself!


The creek crossing at Oak Creek can be impassable at high water. Following heavy rain, even after the water levels drop, this crossing can lose the wood that is used as a makeshift bridge turning an otherwise challenging crossing into a deep wade across a swift stream.

Coffee Pot (HDR)

Coffee Pot (HDR)

Ride 3: Carrol Canyon and Baldwin Loop

Duration: 3+hours


This ride covers some of the same areas as The Big Loop. Generally speaking, this ride is technically a little easier. The best views are in the Red Rock Crossing area.

The Loop:

Starting at the recycling center, descend on Ridge Trail–>connect to the “Secret Slickrock” area on the new Forrest Service Trail (take a left at the junction, a right cuts the loop off and allows for a much shorter ride)–>from the bottom of Secret Slickrock connect by road to the Red Rock Crossing–>Cross Oak Creek–>Up the road, take Baldwin Trail–>At the junction, take Templeton (left) back to Red Rock Crossing–>Cross the creek and climb the road to the Old Post Trail Head–>Climb Old Post past two trails to Carrol Canyon–>Climb Carrol Canyon–>Continue on to Ridge Trail towards West Sedona until you return to the recycling center.

Note: The creek crossing at Red Rock Crossing can be impassable at high water levels.

Red rocks near Chicken Point on Broken Arrow

Red rocks near Chicken Point on Broken Arrow (HDR)

Ride 4: Broken Arrow and Llama

Duration: 3+ hours


Another of the many possible loop options in the Cathedral Rock/Broken Arrow area covers the scenic Broken Arrow/Bell Rock Pathway/Cathedral Rock areas. There are many options to shorten and extend this loop.

The Loop:

Enter Mystic Trail on the northern trailhead–>Mystic Trail–>follow the signs (look carefully) through the neighborhood to Bell Rock Pathway–>Bell Rock Pathway to HT Trail (or continue up to Templeton Trail to extend the loop)–>Right turn onto Templeton–>Connect right to the Back-o-Beyond connector–> A short road climb takes you back to the start of Bell Rock Pathway behind the church (you’ve been here before!)–>take Bell Rock Pathway towards Bell Rock and connect to Llama Trail (Cosmic Ray’s map is essential here!)–>Llama Trail to Little Horse–>A right turn on Little Horse and a short climb gets you to Broken Arrow–>Descend Broken Arrow –>If needed, a short road ride gets you back to the beginning of Mystic Trail.


  1. […] Sedona Mountain Biking Rides « Another Header. // Share| Photography   biking      Amazing – Bruce Cockburn – If I Had a Rocket Launcher » […]

    Pingback by Photo of the Day « tom in chicago — June 20, 2010 @ 2:26 am

  2. […] stay.  For ten years following our initial foray, annual weeklong visits add up to plenty of time bouncing along on the red rocks.  For a variety of reasons, we have not visited Sedona recently.  It was time for a return […]

    Pingback by On to Sedona « Another Header — April 7, 2011 @ 12:13 am

  3. […] For a cascade of reasons, we didn’t mountain bike as much in Sedona during this visit as we would have liked.  The riding that we did do was primo, as it always is in Sedona. […]

    Pingback by Sedona: Mountain Biking « Another Header — April 7, 2011 @ 3:12 am

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