Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Sedona - The Hangover Trail

(This is an ongoing series recapping my March trip to the Sedona, Arizona area)

On the third day of my Sedona visit, I awoke to cloudy skies and chilly temps.  But that was okay because my friends Hans and Lisa planned to take me hiking and I'd much rather be cold than overheated.

Sign models!

Our day's destination was the famous Hangover Trail, located on the edge of Sedona's city limits.  A route not only for hikers, Hans and Lisa said mountain bikers also traversed it's steep slickrock slopes.  But, as I soon found out, this trail was definitely not for novice riders.

Heading out on a cloudy, cold morning

To reach the Hangover Trail, my friends and I had to first follow the Munds Wagon Trail for a couple of miles.  So we bundled up (it was cold!  I never expected to have to wear my knit hat and gloves to hike in Arizona!) and headed out a flat sagebrushy trail.  Tall, partially-red mountains rose before us, giving a sneak peek of views to come.

Unique tree bark

The Munds Wagon Trail crossed a couple of dirt roads (frequented by jeeps and off-road ATVs) and then followed a dry creek bed as we gradually climbed higher.

View of Sedona

There was lots of photo opportunities - interesting tree bark, colorful cacti, and a few peek-a-boo glimpses of Sedona nested under towering rock formations.

Purple cactus

Slick rock scrambling!

The sandstone rock common in this part of the country is very grippy when dry.  I discovered, much to my surprise, that I could climb fairly steep slopes and my hiking boots held fast.  But during rainy times, I'm told this rock earns it's nickname of "slickrock."  (Luckily we had dry weather for today's trek so I didn't get to test this out.)

Picturesque pool

Our first true junction was with a trail called "Cow Pies."  I thought "What kind of name is that to give a trail?"  But Lisa told me as the path climbed, we'd pass by some large circular sandstone formations that resembled - you guessed it - what cows leave behind in the pasture. 

The "Cow Pies" trail name made me laugh

And, when we passed by, sure enough those rocks did indeed look exactly like meadow muffins.  Yes, very much appropriately labeled - Cow Pies is now my new favorite trail name ever!

Spectacular scenery!

Hans, Lisa and I slowly climbed towards the base of a series of tall, red sandstone spires.  So picturesque - it definitely seemed like the sterotypical desert scenes you see in the movies (I joked to my friends I half expected to see the coyote and roadrunner race by!)

Agave plant

We had a quick lunch at the base of some tall redrock cliffs, partially sheltered against the blustery weather.  But the wind was getting awfully cold, so we didn't linger long.

Some desert color

Soon after our lunch spot, my friends and encountered a sign announcing the official start of the Hangover Trail.  Yahoo - we'd made it! 

Spires in the distance

From here our route meandered over expansive areas of rock.  There was no trail - hikers and bikers followed blue dots painted at intervals over the rock's surface.

Can you believe bikes ride this?

Some rock was wide and flat, but a lot of it was steep and narrow.  Hans and Lisa mentioned several times that mountain bikers rode this route.  I couldn't believe people would be brave (or foolish) enough to try!  Although I was hoping to see some bikes, and watch them navigate the Hangover, sadly we didn't meet any.

Lots of cacti

Our route meandered along the base of linear wall of towering red rock formations.  Supposedly, we'd cross over to the opposite side, but I didn't see where or how.  So I kept following Hans and Lisa as they moved from one blue dot to another.

Line of red rocks

One thing for sure, although it was cold and windy, the scenery was absolutely jaw-dropping!  I'm sure my friends got tired of waiting for me as I kept stopping and taking photo after photo.

Approaching the saddle

Finally our route began to switchback up a particularly broad rock slope.  At the very top was a large opening in the stony wall.  This was a saddle bisecting the red rock formations rising from the canyon.

Stunning views from the saddle

We finally reached the saddle, and oh my were the views stunning!  Cliffs dropped away on both sides, and I could look across to Sedona's green valley.  We spotted the main road heading into town and an elegant highway bridge spanning a nearby canyon.

The "hangover" portion of our hike

Although the saddle was an amazing place to hang out, it was extremely cold and windy here, so my friends and I didn't linger long.

Looking back at the saddle

Time to traverse the rocky wall's other side!  From the saddle our "route" dropped down across another red rock slope and then began following a narrow ledge perched in the middle of a steep cliff.  Although hidden by vegetation, the slope dropped steeply off the downhill side.  Above, the rock wall "hung over" our dirt path - thus giving our trail it's name.

Another hangover rock

And - yes - mountain bikers ride this trail!  I couldn't believe anyone would attempt to ride a bike on such a narrow path so close to a steep drop off.

Hugging the cliffside

But my friends and I didn't meet any bikers on this portion of the trail either.  As a matter of fact, we didn't see anyone else, hikers or bike riders.

More fantastic views

When not trying to keep an eye on my footing, the adjacent valley and towering rock formations took my breath away (and kept my shutter clicking).

Some steep downgrades

Our path wound below several rock formations before finally contouring around the base of a particularly tall and pointy one.  Again, the blue dots led us down an extremely steep slickrock slope.  It was so steep, Hans, Lisa and I decided to be safe and scoot down on our rear ends instead of trying to balance on our feet.  And, yes, according to my friends, people actually ride bikes down this!

Sedona Valley spread out below

Another high saddle led us back again to the other side of the tall red red wall.  I got one final glimpse of Sedona before descending.

Heading back down the other side

Then it was down, down, down, winding through juniper forests and cactus.

More tall spires

And a few more fabulous sights.  I didn't tire of seeing these amazing redrock pillars.

Lisa admires an old twisty tree

As we neared our junction back with the Munds Wagon Trail, I began to see more and more people, and even a couple of mountain bikers.  After seeing hardly anyone for most of the Hangover Trail, it was kind of sad to have our solitude interrupted.

Multicolored ridge

But Sedona is a popular hiking and biking destination, so I guess we were lucky to have a portion of this trail to ourselves on such a fine day.

Tall rocky peak

Although cold and windy, the clouds cleared to lovely blue skies for the last couple miles.  As we approached the parking area, I took advantage of perfect late afternoon light on nearby rock formations for a few final images.

Back where we began our day!

Total distance covered was about 8.5 miles.  Total number of photos on my memory card.....well over 400.  Total number of brews enjoyed post hike....two (or maybe three...)

Thanks to Hans and Lisa for taking me on such a wonderful hike!  But I had one more day, and my friends had saved a final favorite trail for the occasion.  Stay tuned for my next post!


  1. Awesome, I have only ever seen places like that on TV and cowboy films. In reality it is stunning. Thanks for taking me there

  2. Magnifica e bela caminhada.
    Gosto das cores e tons destas belas montanhas.
    Um abraço e continuação de boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

  3. ...The "hangover" portion of the hike would not be for me.

  4. Gorgeous! What a lovely way to spend the day.

  5. Over 400 went shutter crazy!!!! I bet you have fun reliving the hike as you go through them. We sure looked as cold as it actually was in the photos! What a great day on the trail!

  6. Just amazing scenery under both the grey skies and the blue

  7. Wow - I really enjoyed your photos of this hike. My son is someone who does enjoy mountain biking on slick rock. Mostly, he rides in Moab. That bark photo reminds me of a horse’s head. Such amazing landscape photos, Linda!

  8. Hi! Nice hiking at Sedona. I just passed by this city only. Thanks for sharing.

  9. What a fantastic read as I while away the time at Calgary airport. I'm sure my camera would have been clicking too, but not with the success of your wonderful images.

  10. You go to some amazing places. Fantastic set of peaks.

  11. Such a beautiful area. The rocks are just amazing. I also liked the shot of the tree bark and the pool midway down the post.

  12. What a gorgeous hike. I love the peaks, red rocks and the cactus. Happy Mother's Days weekend to you!

  13. Marvelous views! Years ago I visited Sedona and was so stunned by the vistas I almost drove off the road!

  14. What a beautiful hike with breathtaking views. I had not heard of it before. Pinning for hubby and I. the names got me to thinking. Wonder if you can get a hangover from eating too many cow pies? lol!

  15. What a beautiful hike for you and your friends, Linda! Thanks for sharing your photos of your trip. Just a tip of the "iceberg" of your hike, for sure. There were a couple photos that were favorites of mine. I know you'll cherish your hikes for years! Happy Mother's Day, Linda!

  16. How gorgeous, and you were there at a perfect time: cool weather, no crowds. Those are the best trail names ever!

  17. Gorgeous photos, Linda! You are fortunate to have had experienced friends there to hike with!
    Cycling is a favorite sport here in Colorado and I believe it may even be surpassing skiing as a sport here, as there are many trails and extreme areas that are challenging like the ones you showed here which gets their adrenaline going.

  18. Did you custom order that amazing sky? Gorgeous!


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