Hiking in Sedona: Sugarloaf Summits

We arrived in West Sedona in the middle of the afternoon after a beautiful morning in Grand Canyon National Park hiking the South Kaibab Trail and cruising Desert View Drive.

I have wanted to explore Sedona for a long time, but this was not the time to do it. We drove through downtown on our way to our contactless AirBnB in West Sedona, and we were shocked at the traffic and crowds. Hopefully some day we can safely return and check out all of the amazing restaurants and nearby adventures!

Instead, we decided to drop off our things and walk to the nearby Thunder Mountain trailhead for a short hike around the 4,649-foot Little Sugarloaf mountain.

At least I thought that was what we were going to do!

We got to the trailhead, found our way to the Lower Chimney Rock trail, which circles Little Sugarloaf mountain, and then Brian decided we should actually scramble to the summit. The summit was only about 300 feet of gain, but I didn’t have my hiking poles and wasn’t sure about sliding back down the rocks without some support!

He convinced me otherwise, and before I knew it we were on top of the small mountain featured in the photos below, looking out across the gorgeous red rocks.

From the summit, we could very clearly see Chimney Rock – the namesake of our trail – which is featured in the bottom picture of the next set of photos. Brian kept waiting for the clouds to part so he could catch a view with the spires lit by the waning sunlight.

There was a group of teens also at the summit, hanging out and waiting for sunset. I’m sure it’s an amazing place to watch the sun go down, but we were trying to keep our distance so we simply took some pictures, enjoyed the views, and then slowly clamored back down to the trail.

The rest of our hike around the base of the mountain was relatively uneventful, and the 1.8-mile trip, with our quick summit scramble, only took about an hour. It was the perfect way to see the area and get a little exercise before we retired to our AirBnB for dinner and a night in.

The next morning we drove to the nearby Sugarloaf Trailhead to summit and then hike around the 4,872-foot Sugarloaf Mountain.

As we reached the summit, the clouds lifted over the nearby mountains, revealing bright blue skies.

In the other direction, I was thrilled to see colorful hot air balloons slowing rising into the air, backdropped by a snow-scattered mountain range.

There was no one else on the summit, but we did pass a couple of people climbing up as we were headed down.

It was a relatively quiet hike around the base of the summit, although we did notice quite a bit of traffic noise from the nearby residential area, including the incessant beeping of garbage trucks. It was kind of an odd experience since we were surrounded by the mountain and couldn’t see what was causing all of the racket in the midst of this beautiful natural area!

Overall our hike ended up being just over two miles roundtrip with 287 feet of gain, and it took us about an hour.

Regardless of your skill level, there are tons of easy hikes through the red rocks of Sedona. I can’t wait to return post-COVID-19 to explore downtown and tackle some more challenging hikes!

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