Sedona. It’s a magical place. We’ve never once been there and not had an epic experience. The small tourist town is surrounded with trail options containing hundreds of miles of single track, but like much of the riding in the southwest, sharp rocks, cacti and dagger-like yucca plants surround you; even small mistakes while riding can result in painful consequences.
New (tubeless) tires and fresh sealant is recommended, as well as a healthy sense of self preservation.
Taking time off for the holidays and looking to break away from our usual spots, we headed south to explore. After our first stop in Las Vegas, (we have family based there) we headed east to for the highlight of our trip: Sedona.
The X-mas break meant it was packed with hordes of vortex seeking tourists, but there aren’t a lot of cycling destinations where you can plant yourself and pedal for several days of exploring challenging trail, all while remaining close to the safety of civilization.
Our previous trip to Sedona was over four years ago, and since then we’d heard of fun new additions to the local trail system. Looking to get the 411 from the source, we began our visit by heading to the Bike & Bean Bike Shop, located south of Sedona in the Village of Oak Creek. After coffee, we received the scoop on the best routes, picked up the latest map and the scoop on where car camping “dirtbags” (like us) went to roost.
DAY ONE: Slim Shady > HT > Little Horse > Broken Arrow > the H’s > Broken Arrow and back
The Slim Shady trail is fairly new. On prior visits we would head from the Bike & Bean to the Courthouse Butte or Bell Rock parking lots to start our rides. It was a bummer having to weave through groups of hikers walking 3-5 wide on the Bell Rock Pathway to access Broken Arrow.
Slim Shady basically starts at the bike shop in the village, and heads north on the west side of the highway. Not only is it less busy, it also happens to be one of the most fun and flowy trails in town. The best part is it bypasses the bulk of the crowds headed to Bell Rock and the nearby vortex.
Scratch that, the best part is how rad the trail is—seriously, Google it.
We met up with fellow travelers Paul LaCava and Sue Marcoe of Portland for our first day of riding. From Slim Shady we connected to HT Trail, to the Little Horse Trail on our way to the Hog Trails: High on the Hog, Hog Heaven and Hog Wash, some of the best and most fun in town. From there we retraced our route back, taking Templeton to mix it up. Everything we rode was well signed, and also matched our maps, making navigation a simple affair.
Not all trail experiences offer this sort of peace of mind, and not having to concern ourselves with being lost meant being able to fully focus on the amazing terrain and gorgeous views surrounding us.
Although many of the trails are littered with tourists, the vibes were for the most part excellent, especially compared to the negativity we often receive on Bay Area trails. In fact, we were frequently cheered on by hikers on the more technical sections of trail.