Sheer beauty of Sedona packs a powerful punch

Sheer beauty of Sedona packs a powerful punch
The red rocks provide a dramatic backdrop for hiking in Sedona. (Kevin Parker photo)

Columns Hit the TrailDec. 11, 2021 — Have you ever visited a place that has such a profound affect that it heals your soul, inspires transformative experiences, and helps you view the world and all its beauty? Well, Sedona checked all those boxes on a recent four-day trip that should have been 14.

Home to the Yavapai and Hopi Indians, Sedona and her majestic red rock scenery have a laid-back, earthy feel with inspirational effects, powerful vortex meditation sites, energy orbs, UFOs, aliens and mysterious windows into other worlds. You might experience some, none or all of these things while visiting.

Use Boynton Canyon Trailhead as a jumping off spot to a massive network of trails. Part one of our trek took us along Vista Trail to Kachina Woman Rock Vortex and then up Boynton Canyon with a detour to a secret area known as Subway Cave. This canyon is home to one of four major Sedona vortexes.

Dry desert hiking quickly transformed into moist canyons and tons of colors this time of year, making it a top spot for fall foliage. At the right time of day, the elevated view from the Subway Cave is worth the climb.

Desert greenery

Kevin Parker photo.

Arizona has a reputation for being dry and hot, with endless deserts. Sedona is not any of these things, as it sits at about 4,500 feet and keeps a 90-degree temperature during most of the summer. We visited in November, a total score in terms of weather. Desert greenery laid against massive red rock formations with alien-like pinnacles unlike anything I had ever seen.

Staying near the entrance to Boynton Canyon allowed us to transition to mountain bikes just after lunch. We linked up Aerie to Cockscomb Trail, complete with prickly pear cactus, agave Americana and ponderosa pine.

Follow Dawa Trail through a maze of dry creek beds and make your way through lands very unlike the Bay Area on the road to Mescal Trail, which is popular for biking and hiking. If you are not an experienced rider, I would choose hiking as some of the trail choices come down to difficult vs. extreme.

Mescal begins with a gradual climb that cuts along rock lines, through undulating terrain with tire-popping cacti at most turns. Shredding the red through a blanket of green covering most of the valley with red rock views made it hard to keep eyes on the trail.

Otherworldly views

Kevin Parker photo.

As the valley surrounding Mescal Mountain falls away, you are left with a neatly cut trail into the hillside with major consequences, but otherworldly views during some sections. Careful navigation is imperative, especially in wet conditions. But on a sunny afternoon, we had it made in the shade as surrounding trees gave a patchwork of shadows on our way to Deadman’s Pass Trail.

The last section of trail is mostly downhill with twisty sections through jagged rocks and roots, but on a day like this, we were hypnotized in a scenery daze. Back at Boynton Trailhead, we pedaled back to a well-deserved beverage, poolside in this case.

Our time was short here, but we are already hatching a plan for our next trip because we just skimmed the surface on trails exploration. On my list for next visit: Hiline, Baldwin and Easy Breezy.

Hit The Trail

  • Where: Sedona, Ariz.
  • Trails: Upper Dry Creek Area Trails, Boynton Canyon & Vista Trails (9 miles), Mescal Trail Loop (8 miles)
  • Distance: 17 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,706 feet
  • Time: 6+ hours
  • Trailhead: Boynton Canyon Trailhead

Contact Kevin Parker with comments or questions by email at