The Stats: Trail name: Bear Mountain Trail Location: Sedona, AZ Distance: 4.9 miles out and back Elevation Gain: 1,975 feet Published Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult Dog Friendliness: Bring 'em
There are a lot of hiking options in Sedona, but if you ask me, Bear Mountain Trail is toward the top of the list of must-do hikes. That said, it’s a tough one complete with three false peaks and a wicked ~2,000 foot elevation gain over the course of just under 2.5 miles. The views are worth it. Trust me – I have photo proof.
The trailhead is about 15 minutes outside downtown Sedona, complete with a parking lot for a $5 fee or free street parking. Assuming you park in the lot, you’ll cross the street to catch the trail – important to note as there are a couple other trails that start on the parking lot side of the street.
The beginning of the trail meanders across the desert floor through a couple of washes before you start your first ascent of about 450 feet to reach a narrow plateau. This is followed by another 500 foot gain to a welcome broader plateau with the first chance to take in the incredible views of Fay Canyon.
Once you cross the broad plateau, you’ll reach the second aggressive climb, which brings you to your second false peak. The climb is a challenge, but the scenery is worth taking as many stops to rest (or take photos) as you need.
The ascent to the summit is relatively moderate from here. While the views along the way are pretty spectacular, the peak is a bit anti-climactic. You’ll know you’re there by the sign that’s planted, but don’t let that deter you. This hike is gorgeous.