Taiwanese-American blogging about his travels outdoors and occasionally his thoughts on life.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Hiking Devil's Bridge Trail, Sedona, AZ.

Trail Description

Length: 4-5 miles round trip
Elevation Change: 629 feet
Difficulty Assessment: Very Easy - Easy
Trail Type: Out and Back

Half an hour northwest from the quiet center of Sedona, Arizona, lies the iconic Devil's Bridge, the largest natural sandstone arch in the Sedona area. Because of how easy it is to get to and do the hike (0.8 mile one way), Devil's Bridge is normally crowded with visitors all throughout the week (think: Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley).

To get to Devil's Bridge trailhead, you have a few options:
  1. Park in the parking lot immediately off of Dry Creek Road and FR152 (Vultee Arch) and hike along the unpaved FR152 for an additional mile to Devil's Bridge trailhead (3-4 mile roundtrip hike).
  2. Park in the parking lot immediately off of Dry Creek Road and FR152 (Vultee Arch) and hike on the Chuckwagon trail to the Devil's Bridge trailhead (5-6 mile roundtrip).
  3. Drive past the Dry Creek Road parking lot and onto the unpaved portion of FR 152 directly to the Devil's Bridge trailhead (1.6 mile roundtrip). FR 152 is a very rough dirt road so if you do decide to drive directly to the trailhead, it's recommended that you have a high clearance vehicle.
  4. Or, continue driving past FR152 for a minute or two to the next street, Long Canyon Road, and park at the Mescal trailhead. The Mescal to Chuckwagon to Devil's Bridge is a 4-5 mile roundtrip hike.
This entry will be detailing the Mescal to Chuckwagon to Devils Bridge route.

The Hike

To my knowledge, and based on what I was told at the Ranger Station, you don't need a Red Rocks Pass to park at the Mescal Trailhead. If you still want to purchase one to be safe however, here is a list of vendors who sell them ($5): Vendor List and Red Rocks Pass Information.

Compared to the parking lot at the Devil's Bridge trailhead, there is more room at the Mescal Trailhead for vehicles.

The trail to Devil's Bridge and on Devil's Bridge is dog-friendly. I did not see any trash cans at the parking lot other than that for dog waste. I think the trail is safe for dogs of all sizes, presuming you bring enough water for both you and your dog, and are diligent in monitoring your dog's comfort levels.

The Mescal Trail is pretty well defined and signs appear now and then at junctions to guide you to where you need to be. It helps if you have a map so you know which path to take when you hit those junctions. I recommend downloading the Maps.me app or taking a picture of the message board sign at the start of the trail.

Overall, I feel the Mescal trail to Chuckwagon trail is an easy trail and appropriate for most hikers. Although there are slight inclines here and there, the trail to Devil's Bridge parking lot is mostly flat. There is also a lot of shade.

After a mile and a half or so, you'll reach the Devil's Bridge parking lot and trailhead. As you can see, the lot isn't very large, which can be problematic if you're trying to find parking on a weekend morning.

Check out the message board before starting the hike for any important messages from the rangers. Notice that it's prohibited to use a drone in this area. I think it has to do with the Sedona airport nearby.

From the parking area, follow the smooth, wide trail uphill towards the arch. The trip to the top will be a pretty gentle incline the entire way up.

Less than a mile up, the trail will then split. The right trail goes to the top and the left trail goes beneath. Given how short the hike is, you can easily do both. I suggest quickly visiting the arch from below and then moseying your way back to the junction and continue on to the top.

Eventually, the dirt path becomes a rock staircase of sorts. Follow it until you reach a wide open area and enjoy the view. Most people will use this as a resting spot so it's a good opportunity for you to get someone to help take your picture!

Once you've caught your breath, keep going up!

After some more hiking through some manzanita bushes, you'll eventually find yourself at the bridge. There, it'll be obvious how things work. A queue usually forms to take pictures on the bridge and very quickly you'll learn where to snap some shots and where to stand. It's usually very lively up at the bridge.

Taken from www.americansouthwest.net
All in all, I think the Mescal trail to Devil's Bridge is the nicest of all four options I suggested. The only time I would opt for the dirt path (FR 152) option or parking directly at the Devil's Bridge trailhead would be if I had other plans that day in Sedona. But if your main goal is to do Devil's Bridge, I think starting the hike at Long Canyon is a bit better of an experience.

For more information, see:
1. USDA Devil's Bridge
2. Great Sedona Hikes
3. AllTrails Devil's Bridge
4. Yelp Devil's Bridge
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