Sterling Pass to Vultee Arch,

Oak Creek Canyon/Sedona

A steep hike through a red rock canyon, over a mountain and to a large, sandstone arch.


Date of Hike: April 12, 2006

About two months after I did this hike, the Brins Fire burned 4,317 acres of forest, including the Sterling Pass area.  It burned from June 18 to June 28, 2006.  The trail was closed for quite a while, reopening in September, 2007.  I have not been back to Sterling Pass since the fire, so I can't tell you what it looks like now, but it is apparently hikeable once more.

This is a steep trail that goes right up the side of Oak Creek Canyon.  Magnificent red rock cliffs surround you the whole way up to the pass.  However, there really isn't much of a view from top of Sterling Pass.  You're down in the trees at that point.  The distance from the trailhead to the top of the pass is about 2.4 miles.

One weird feature of the hike comes just on the north side of the top of the pass.  The trail winds beneath a bunch of trees that are all curved over in the same direction, creating a kind of arch above the trail.  I suspect that they are all bent downhill due to high winds constantly swooping down the mountainside, but I don't know for sure.  I could just be making that up.


Getting there:

You'll park on the side of Highway 89A, which runs through Oak Creek Canyon.  The trailhead is right on the side of the road, about 5.5 miles north of Sedona, or 22 miles south of Flagstaff.

For more pictures of this hike, click here

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