I wasn’t expecting a sinkhole when I set out to hike Soldier Pass Trail. I was honestly just expecting to get out and do a quick hike for some cardio while my husband was out riding demo mountain bikes at the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival.
But sure enough, there it was: a gigantic sinkhole. It was oddly fantastic. The large piece of rock that had broken off was a larger-than-life puzzle piece. You could see the exact lines that matched up to where it had broken off. I can only imagine how loud the boom must have been when it fell. I would not have wanted to be hiking anywhere near this trail that day for the sake of my eardrums. For reference on how large this sinkhole is– see that tree in my photo popping up in the sinkhole? It had to have been like 50 feet tall. Yep…gigantic sinkhole.
The rest of the trail provided some beautiful views, as Sedona often does. It was a little packed with bikers because of the mountain bike festival. Apparently, Soldier Pass Trail was one of the trails they recommended that weekend for attendees to take bikes out on and demo. There were a handful of hikers as well.Besides a section or two where it was a little rocky, the trail itself was mostly easy and smooth.
There is one other large, open transition area that is slick rock and the trail is hard to see where it picks back up. You could literally go a handful of directions and the stack of cairns wasn’t all that clear (which I stopped to fix and make more obvious). Initially, I started following two guys who had gone off to the left because I saw another stack of inconspicuous cairns that way but then felt it wasn’t right.
We stopped to chat about the trail they were on and it was not what I was looking for. I went back to where I came from and looked around until I realized you are just supposed to go straight ahead through this section.
It had rained previously so I did encounter some mud near the top of the trail but it wasn’t too big of an issue. I stopped and talked to another couple for a bit at the top who were trying to figure out which way they wanted to go. I personally think you should have that figured out before you begin your hike and maybe have a backup plan in the event you can’t continue the way you initially planned. But, to each their own.
I gave them the rundown of Soldier Pass Trail and let them know it begins/ends in a residential area but that it’d be possible to get back to their parking area even from there. I always take a picture of the trail map before I head out. Even if the mileage is off, the directions won’t be. I spent a couple more minutes letting them see my trail photo and then began to make my way back down the way I had come from.
I do think that the mileage provided on the trailhead map is slightly off. It claims that it is 0.3 miles from the parking to the official Soldier Pass Trail and then 1.7 miles on Soldier Pass until you hit the Brins Mesa Trail. My Garmin vivoactive recorded 4.25 miles roundtrip, so a quarter of a mile extra. I did talk to some elderly hikers on my way back that were also concerned the mileage wasn’t posted correctly. I had already made it to the top and assured them it really wasn’t too much farther but that I agreed it was probably incorrect. If you want to purchase a map with over 100 Sedona trails listed in it, you can buy one here.
A pink jeep tour was doing their thing and had stopped to let riders take a few photos and have some lunch. When I was approaching the trailhead, I also nearly got run over by a mountain biker who came barreling down a hill that had steps leading into a blind turn. I was a little irritated at first because I felt it was slightly irresponsible to bomb down a stairclimber at the beginning/end of a trail where those finishing the trail and heading back can’t see you.
I’m normally pretty good to listen for bikes because my husband is a huge mountain bike rider. I always move out of their way in hard-to-pass spots/technical terrain because I know how difficult it is to mountain bike a trail versus hiking a trail–even though hikers always have the right of way. It really is more dangerous for the biker when a hiker doesn’t move. I get it. But, I never heard anything at all to indicate the a biker was up top.
In hindsight, it was kind of funny because I had nowhere to go due to how narrow the turn was right there. There was a tree in the middle of the trail and I literally jumped into it and tried to become one with the tree because I knew he wouldn’t aim for the tree.
He had to hop off his bike and I’m pretty sure he was irritated, too. But, he could have asked if anyone was below and he didn’t. In any case, I said a pleasantry of some sort and carried on my way. No use in letting someone else’s inexperience ruin my day since neither of us was harmed.
This hike is an easy way to bust out a good, quick trail and get your heart rate up. It’s not very difficult at all and provides for a more casual hike. The elevation gain is less than 600 feet overall.
One thing to note is that the parking lot is incredibly tiny. Like, seriously tiny. There’s room for about 10-12 cars and if you pull in and it’s full– it’s difficult to get out of. It’s deceptive because a 4×4 road is right there and if the lot’s full, it can look like spots are open. 1 or 2 of the spots are handicap parking only. So, there’s really only about room for 8-10 cars. I got lucky because even though the lot was full, there was one handicap spot open that I could use to turn around.
Another car had come in behind me while I was trying to turn around. It would’ve been impossible to turn around if that spot hadn’t been open or without doing a 30-point turn. Unless you see a parking spot open near where you drive in, don’t waste your time trying to park there. Just go back into the residential area. There’s a street on the right (Rim Shadows Drive) that you are allowed to park on. No Parking signs adorn the other streets I saw.
I enjoyed this hike and would like to go back and do it again on a less busy weekend. Have you done this hike? What were your thoughts on it?