Hiking in Sedona in November

Bear Mountain Trail above Doe Mesa

Hiking in November in Sedona – sound cold? Maybe a little on the chilly side a couple of days but despite rain, hail and snow we had some terrific hikes. One day at the beginning of the week we were wearing shorts and just a few days later we were happy to be wearing jeans and lots of extra layers. The morning after a storm moved through we got out early to go on what turned out to be my favorite hike this year – the West Fork Canyon.

The West Fork Canyon Trail

The volunteer at the Red Rock Ranger station warned us to avoid the West Fork Trail on a weekend or holiday – it’s one of the most popular trails in Sedona, and with good reason! The trail winds through the canyon of the West Fork of Oak Creek through beautiful woods at the bottom of steep colorful red rock walls. 12 creek crossings on stones and logs make this otherwise easy trail one that is even more fun and interesting.

West Fork Trail

Creek crossings; Red Rock canyon walls; Snowy woods on the West Fork Trail

Close to the end of the trail you scramble over or under another tree to finally get to your destination – a calm shallow pool nestled between canyon walls carved out by the water into a long wave shape. A great place to have your lunch before heading back the way you came.

West Fork Trail

The erosion created wave formation at the end of the West Fork Trail

The sign at the trail head states that the West Fork Trail is 3.3 miles one way, but allow plenty of time to pick your way across the creek crossings without getting your feet too wet.

Tip: Pick up one of the walking sticks leaning against the trail map sign at the beginning of the trail (past the ruins of the former Oak Creek Lodge). You’ll be happy to have one to steady your steps on the slippery rocks of the creek crossings.
Tip: Get to the parking lot early to get a parking place.

Bear Mountain Trail

My second favorite hike this year was the Bear Mountain Trail. The trail sign at the beginning says this trail is only 5 miles round trip, but there is an elevation gain of 2,000 feet! Not an easy trail – it’s rugged, exposed and unmarked in many places. The trail sign states to allow 5 hours and that seemed pretty valid to us.

West Fork Trail

(Upper Left) View south to Doe Mesa; (Upper Right) On the saddle looking northwest into Red Canyon; (Lower Left) Looking down into Fay Canyon on the east; (Lower Right) Chaparral covered plateau

The trail starts out easy enough, crossing a meadow and steadily climbing. There’s some steep, rough scrambling up a chute to the first plateau where you get a good look DOWN onto Doe Mesa. Once you’re at the top of that plateau just keep looking north to the highest point – that’s the destination. On your way there you’ll have fantastic views down into Fay Canyon on the east and Red Canyon on the west. Your reward at the top of Bear Mountain is a 360 degree forever view.

View south from the top of Bear Mountain

View south from the top of Bear Mountain

Start early to have plenty of time for your picnic lunch at the top and have a rest before heading back the way you came.

Not an easy trail, but the fantastic views made this hike so worth it…at least once

Practicalities

West Fork Trail

Parking for the West Fork Trail is at the Call of the Canyon Picnic area, run by a concessionaire not the park system. See the Call Of The Canyon Day Use site for info on parking fees and the West Fork Trail.

Bear Mountain Trail

Parking for the Bear Mountain Trail is at the Doe Mountain lot. See the Coconino National Forest Bear Mountain Trail info for parking info and map.

For most hikes in the Red Rock Ranger District you need to display a Red Rock Pass or a National Parks Pass (American the Beautiful Interagency Pass) in the windshield of your car. See the Red Rock Pass Program for where and when the pass is needed. Stop by the Red Rock Ranger Station or the Uptown Sedona Visitors Center to get a pass, helpful info, and maps.

My Trail Heads and Sights Map

Sedona locations

Have you been hiking in Sedona? What’s your favorite hike?

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2 Comments

    1. Rebecca

      Thanks Frank! Sedona is my favorite place to spend a week hiking and late October early November seems to be pretty ideal, sunny days and perfect temps (except for the occasional rain/hail/snow!). Other than that, after you get going a bit off come the layers. The area also has some interesting Native American sites to see before and after hikes A Week in Red Rock Country

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