The Devil’s Bridge hike has long escaped me considering I have lived in Arizona my entire life. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was that I “didn’t want to do the hike everyone else wanted to do.” Maybe it was that I just never really set out to hike it until recently. Or maybe I just could not find it…
In any case, I am so ecstatic that I finally added this hike to the completed side of my bucket list…even if I didn’t start at the typical trailhead for it (and finally found the more common trailhead the next day). You can start this hike in a couple of spots. The most common spot is from Vultee Arch/Dry Creek Rd.
If you’ve got a 4X4 vehicle with high clearance, you can start at the actual trailhead by continuing beyond the parking lot on Vultee Arch/Dry Creek Rd. If not, just park in the parking lot and plan on adding just over an extra mile to your hike. There was only one vehicle parked on the Fire road, so I wouldn’t recommend it without high clearance.
Parking in this parking lot is apparently what normal people do. I, being sometimes awkward and not normal, settled for the trailhead I came across first. See, I was looking for the dirt fire road (FR 152) but didn’t realize that Vultee Arch/Dry Creek Road/FR 152 are basically all the same thing. I’m normally a pretty intelligent person (maybe I’m biased in that…) but for some reason, I couldn’t find this trailhead even though there were a million cars parked in the lot, the overflow areas, and all the way down the road and around the corner. On a weekday.
“They’re here for a different hike,” I told myself. This is why I normally hike with my husband…he graciously researches and knows the lay of the land so we are prepared… but he was off riding his mountain bike this specific day at the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival.
I drove along until the road forced me left or right. I chose left. It didn’t seem right. I pulled over into the pullout and tried to get cell service. Out of luck. I took my chances and turned around and went right.
I wound up at a gate entry to a private residential area. The gate guard told me to go back a little ways and when I saw a bunch of rocks in a pull out area before the stop sign, I should park and that was the trailhead. I made a comment that it didn’t make sense because I was looking for a fire road and he let me know that there were a couple of spots to start the trail but that most people don’t have the vehicle for the 4X4 road.
So, I found the spot he had mentioned and sure enough, there was a sign that said Devil’s Bridge (for reference, this parking spot is along Long Canyon Road). I took a photo of the map at the trailhead, studied it a bit, and took off. I was instantly confused again as I made my way about 200 feet down the trail.
I didn’t think I was supposed to cross any water. BUT, there was a freezing cold river flowing right before my eyes that wasn’t getting much sunshine yet. I walked up and down the river to make sure this is where I was supposed to cross. I walked back to the trailhead to see if there was water on the map that I hadn’t seen. No water mentioned anywhere.
I figured, what the heck….I’ll cross. So, I took my socks and shoes off and waded across the 7-ish foot wide stream. I kind of figured it was snow melt since Sedona got a ton of snow this past winter. I later learned that was likely accurate. Makes sense considering I thought my feet were going to fall off from what seemed like it could be near hypothermia even though it only took me about 30 seconds to cross. I made my way along the trail and through a wash until I reached a crossing that listed only the Chuckwagon trail. Hmm. Someone had carved in Devil’s Bridge and an arrow to the left. So, I asked a mountain biker to confirm I should go left and then off I went.
From this trailhead, you basically are adding the Chuckwagon trail ON to your Devil’s Bridge trail hike. It’s not that much different in distance than if you parked at the common Vultee Arch trailhead and was definitely less crowded (but don’t tell anyone in case I want to go back!).
I continued on until I crossed the fire road on my hike that I had been looking to park at and found the actual (real) Devil’s Bridge Trailhead… signs and all. I began the trek of now what felt like the hike I had come for and made my way up to the top. It got extremely crowded as I got closer and closer to the top and I had to remind myself to be patient.
The hike begins to get pretty steep and near the end is quite the stairclimber. I wouldn’t recommend bringing small children or anyone with bad knees and issues with steepness of stairs. I patiently worked my way to the landing where the Devil’s Bridge becomes a beautiful sight in front of your eyes. I then proceeded to work my way around all of the tourists to a spot where I could get some decent photos.
If you want solitude, the Devil’s Bridge hike is not it. If you want to wait your turn to go out onto the bridge for a photo op, this hike is it. If you want a picture without anyone on the bridge… get your camera ready and snap quickly in between tourists taking turns. This is probably why I’ve never done this hike. Patience….
Even with the crowded trail and nowhere for solitude at the top, the Devil’s Bridge hike is absolutely spectacular. The scenery is just downright beautiful. You’d be hard-pressed to find a spot in Sedona that isn’t gorgeous, but this hike allows you to take in so many different angles of the red rocks. I can see why it’s become popular (well, other than the obvious selfie spot for Instagram).
I snapped as many photos as I could and then looked down at my watch. It was the same exact time I was supposed to be hearing from my in-laws and potentially meeting them for lunch. Oops. I texted my husband to let him know I was running late and packed up all of my camera gear into my Camelbak. I had gotten more than enough photos on my way up that I didn’t think I needed my camera on the way down.
I decided it’d be great to trail run on my way back (mostly trying to offset my being so late as well). That was a great trail run back sans when I ran into some mountain bikers that thought I was nuts. I got to the last bit and, although I thought I needed to go right, stopped to ask them for confirmation. I asked which way they came from and they pointed left. I asked if they had to cross a stream from that way and they said no. So, I took off running right knowing I needed to cross the water again. I heard one say as I was running off, “why would she go a way that she has to cross water…?”
I make my way back to the trailhead I started at and felt awesome about my adventure. I grab my phone to text everyone that I’m on my way and I get a text from my in-laws… they too, were running late, and I was now the early one. Phew. Makes for an entertaining story anyhow, I hope!
Here’s info from my Garmin Vivoactive (it’s a relatively flat hike until you start the stairclimber to the bridge):
If you like data like what’s above, you can purchase your own Vivoactive to geek out on data! Use my affiliate link below and I’ll get a few bucks from your purchase plus you get a great deal! Win-win! Just click on the watch to view and/or purchase. 😉
Have you been on this hike previously? Did you get some awesome photos? Let me know! Happy hiking!