Some secrets are just too good to keep to yourself.
That’s why the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau launched Sedona’s Secret 7, an innovative approach that reveals lesser-known trails and locations throughout Red Rock Country. Seven locations within seven categories – hiking, biking, vistas, picnics, stargazing, arts and culture and spiritual – offer a total of 49 hidden gems scattered across the Greater Sedona area. Using Sedona’s Secret 7 allows visitors to spend more time outdoors reveling in natural beauty and connecting in a personal way to the landscape far from crowds. Here are just a few highlights from the list.
Schuerman Mountain Vista
People travel to Sedona for the visual drama. Here we’re reminded again how wondrous the natural world can be. These once-in-a-lifetime views are memories you’ll always cherish. Stop for maps and information a the Red Rock Ranger Station and you’ll get your first taste. From the parking lot, a sweep of erosion-carved cliffs serves as notice that you’ve arrived someplace truly special. Hikers, bikers and admirers of the subline will appreciate the quiet loveliness of the Aerie Trailhead – especially as sunset bathes the surrounding cliffs in velvety soft light. Climb the broad back of Schuerman Mountain and see just how many iconic formations you can identify. This also makes a grand spot to celebrate the golden rays of dawn climbing over the horizon.
A short, moderate, out-and-back hike to the basaltic lava of an extinct volcano. Begin by hiking behind Sedona Red Rock High School, past a large solar panel array and through an old cattle gate. The trail up is steep in places but is only 0.3 miles to the top. Take the Vista trail to the left for lovely views. Watch your step through the lava bed. For an added view to the northwest, make the short climb to the top of Schuerman Mountain (faint trail to the right at the intersection of the Schuerman Mountain Trail and the Vista Trail)
Hiking Distance: Schuerman Mountain Trail to Vista Trail, 0.3 miles; to the Vista (southern view), 0.3 miles; to the top of Schuerman Mountain (western view), 0.4 miles; 2.0 miles round trip.
Tip: From the Vista (southern view) great views of Cathedral Rock especially late afternoon. From the top, views of the Mingus Mountains and the Verde Valley.
Amenities: Pet friendly (leash required). Relatively quiet, best November through April. Best views in the late afternoon but unshaded.
Posse Grounds Park
Sedona’s first park was once used as a staging ground for the Sheriff’s Posse. Today the park offers ten covered and landscaped ramadas that can be reserved for parties and special events, or just used as a place to sit and enjoy lunch. Adjacent to the ramada area is a large playground for children, short walking trails with great red rock views.
Tip: For a map of the park and trails, go to Posse Grounds Park Map
Driving Directions: From the Visitor Center, 331 Forest Road, turn right on 89A for 1.8 miles; turn right at Posse Grounds Road for 0.5 miles to the park.
Amenities: Playground equipment, walking trails, bike skills park, skate park, entertainment pavilion.
Red Rock Ranger Station
The Red Rock Ranger Station has an amazing visitor center where visitors and locals alike will enjoy learning about the area’s many scenic wonders and world class recreation opportunities.
Tip: In addition to a native plant garden, hummingbird garden, Smokey Bear and stunning views, the Red Rock Ranger Station Visitor Center offers:
Short, 13-minute film introduction to Red Rock Country
Interactive recreational trip planning
Stories in Stone: Red Rock Country geology display
Honor the Past: Human timeline of the Verde Valley Area
Mosaic of Life: Interactive display highlighting the seven biotic communities found in the region
Fire: Nature’s Housekeeper: Meet a Forest Service firefighter and learn the vital role fire plays.
Driving Directions: From the Visitor Center, 331 Forest Road, turn right on 89A for 8.4 miles; turn left for the entrance and continue left to the parking area.
Amenities: Restrooms, parking passes, gift shop
A short, easy, paved hike to a 270° view of the mountains surrounding Sedona and the basin to Red Rock Country.
Distance: 6.1 miles from the Aerie Trailhead, to the Girdner Trailhead.
Tip: For a tranquil place to sit, there are two covered picnic ramadas in the parking areas or a bench and tree for shade 0.1 miles on the Girdner Trail. This trail is also great for those with mobility challenges.
Driving Directions: From the Visitor Center, 331 Forest Road, turn right on 89A for 4.2 miles. Turn right on Cultural Park Place. Follow the road straight back 0.1 miles to the trailhead parking.
Amenities: Lesser used trail, great for sunset!
Beaverhead Flat Scenic Overlook
Enjoy a different view of the landscape in the Verde Valley from this quiet vantage point a few miles south of the Village of Oak Creek.
Tip: Look to the east for a view of several green mesas at this somewhat remote vista, especially pretty after a light snowfall. This is also a great place for nighttime stargazing!
Driving Directions: From the Visitor Center, 331 Forest Road, turn right on 89A. At the circle, take the 3rd exit to 179 for 10.6 miles. Turn right on Beaverhead Flat Road 1.0 miles to parking on the right.
Amenities: Pet friendly (leash required); just a few miles south of the Village of Oak Creek.
Take a scenic ride through the cool shade toward sweeping views of one of Arizona’s most incredible landscapes. Enjoy the view from the trailhead or hike the Aerie Trail or Cockscomb trail from this parking lot.
Distance: Aerie Trail: 2.9 miles each way from the Aerie Trailhead parking area to the Boynton Canyon Trailhead Parking Area for 5.8 miles round trip. For a shorter ride, turn right on the Cockscomb Trail for a 4.4-mile loop back to the Aerie Trailhead parking lot.
Tip: Don’t miss the views of Bear Mountain, Fay Canyon and Boynton Canyon.
Driving Directions: From the Visitor Center, 331 Forest Road, turn right on 89A for 3.2 miles. Turn right on Dry Creek Road for 3.0 miles. At the stop sign, turn left onto Boynton Pass Road for 4.1 miles. Turn left on Aerie Road (past Doe Mtn) to the trailhead parking lot.
Amenities: Restrooms available at Doe Mountain, Fay Canyon trailhead and Boynton Canyon parking lots.
Merry Go Round Rock
Admire the sweeping views at sunset from this remote vista. Note: A high-clearance vehicle or ATV/UTV is required to drive this road.
Distance: A short, easy, 1.2-mile trail circles Merry-Go-Round Rock.
Tip: You can also access it from the trailhead located about four miles up Schnebly Hill Road.
Driving Directions: From the Visitor Center, 331 Forest Road, turn right on 89A. At the circle, take the 3rd exit to 179 for 0.2 miles; at the circle take the 2nd exit to Schnebly Hill Road 4.7 miles to parking just off the road or park at the Cowpies Trailhead, about 4.0 miles up Schnebly Hill Road and hike the Munds Wagon Trail, 0.5 miles to Merry-Go-Round Rock.
Amenities: Expansive Red Rock views looking south toward Sedona. Beautiful any time of the day, especially late afternoon.
Find more information on your trip to Sedona here.
Images courtesy of visitsedona.com