★★★★☆ Moderate / Sedona:
Long views, a crazy-big sinkhole, sacred pools, and a cave-lined ridge are just a few of the cool features on Soldier Pass Hiking Trail. This Sedona hike mashes-up some of the area’s wackiest red-rock formations in one short trail.
TRAILHEAD: rim shadows drive, sedona, AZ • DIFFICULTY: MODERATE • DISTANCE: 2.4 MILEs (4.8 miles RT) • APPROX. TIME: 2.5-3 HOURS • ELEVATION GAIN: 465 FEET (33 STORIES) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 720-820 • BEST TIME OF YEAR: sept.-June • PETS: YES • KID FRIENDLY: YES (10 AND OVER) • FACILITIES: none • FEES: RED ROCK ($5 DAILY, $15 WEEKLY, $20 ANNUAL) OR NATIONAL PARK PASS ($85 ANNUAL) REQUIRED
The views alone make Soldier Pass Hiking Trail an awesome Sedona hike. Throw in a dramatic 2012-like sinkhole, a row of sacred pools and a series of shallow caves and it becomes a prime trail, overflowing with fantastic natural features.
The Soldier Pass Hiking Trail heads out from its teeny tiny park trailhead parking lot. The path first dips down, crosses a wash and then follows the washes sandstone banks. In the distance, sculptural red-rock spires frame the horizon.
A quarter mile into the hike, at the intersection of the Jordan trail, a sandstone expanse opens onto Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole, a yawning cavity sprinkled with random two-ton boulders, beneath Sphinx Rock.
Seven Sacred Pools sits on the side of the trail a quarter-mile further along. This series of small water filled pools has been slowly etched into the sandstone by centuries of rain. Expect to run into Jeep Tours at this popular attraction.
Beyond the pools, Soldier Pass Hiking Trail climbs a rocky hill for 1.5-miles. The views get increasingly long, with Bell and Cathedral Rocks clearly visible in the distance. To the right, a tall ridge is dotted by wind-worn caves.
The final 1/4-mile of Soldier Pass Hiking Trail levels off and veers right onto the top of the ridge. It ends at a T-intersection with Brins Mesa Trail. Turn around here to head back the same way, or head right onto Brins Mesa, then right again onto Cibolla Trail to form a loop back to the Soldier Pass Trailhead (see downloadable trail map below).
Total Nerdery According to legend the Apache and Yavapai people considered the Seven Pools to be sacred as a consistent water source in the desert.
Resources Click here to download a trail map.
Free Sedona Shuttle – From the intersection of 89A and SR 179, turn left/west on 89A and continue for 1.5 miles to Posse Ground Road. Turn right/north and drive 0.5 miles to the Posse Grounds Park and Ride. Shuttle 14 departs every 50 minutes, Thursday – Sunday, from 7:00 am – 4:10 pm.
Trailhead – (Note: The 14-car lot fills quickly, making the Shuttle a good alternative.) From the intersection of 89A and SR 179, turn left/west on 89A. Drive 1.2 miles to Solider Pass Road. Turn right / north on Soldier Pass Road and continue 1.5 miles to Rim Shadows Drive. Turn right/east on Rim Shadows Drive and drive 0.2 miles to a gated entry road (keeping straight where Rim Shadows Drive splits left). The lot is on the left side of the road.