Sedona hikers can now arrive at some of the most popular trailheads in red rock country in comfort and style. No more battling traffic, no more searching for parking spots in crowded lots or residential neighborhoods. That’s thanks to the new Sedona Shuttle.
This environmentally friendly public transport offered by the city began on March 24. Designated routes deliver hikers to four major trailheads, two west of Sedona and two on State Route 179. The free and easy ride should go a long way to reducing traffic congestion and illegal parking, among other issues.
“We received incredibly positive feedback from the first weekend of operation,” said Joanne Keene, Deputy City Manager of Sedona. “Many people were excited to take the shuttle, and residents could see almost immediate improvements in neighborhood traffic flow and with overflow parking.”
Continued:Best Easy Hikes in Sedona
How the Free Sedona Hikers Shuttle Works
In recent years, Sedona has seen a surge in visitation. This led to heavy traffic and crowded trails. Not the idyllic getaway that so many hope for when venturing to this stunning destination.
Over 400 miles of trails weave through red rock formations, so there’s plenty of backcountry to explore. Yet, a few specific trails attract a disproportionate number of hikers and cyclists. This is where Sedona Shuttle comes in.
The shuttle connects two large park-and-ride lots to four busy trailheads: Cathedral Rock, Soldier Pass, Dry Creek and Little Horse.
The shuttles run from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from Thursday to Sunday. This will increase to seven days a week during peak periods (including March 31 to April 17).
The shuttles can accommodate 20 passengers and run frequently throughout the day, at least every 15 to 45 minutes. Timetables are displayed for each route on the Sedona Shuttle website. Download the TransLoc app for real-time departure information.
Here are the trailheads and trails you can reach by taking the Sedona Shuttle.
Continued:The Story Behind the Sedona Shuttle for Backpackers
Cathedral Rock, Little Horse Trailheads
From the North SR 179 Park and Ride Lot (1294 N. SR 179), the Route 15 Shuttle brings hikers to the Little Horse Trailhead and Cathedral Rock Trailhead, where they can access the Cathedral Vortex and Cathedral Rock Trail .
The upper portion of Cathedral Rock Trail is closed for maintenance until April 30. The lower portion of the trail to the 0.4 mile mark remains open. When the shuttles are running, the Cathedral Rock parking lot will be closed.
Little Horse Trailhead provides access to Little Horse Trail, Chicken Point, and Bell Rock Pathway.
Continued:Secret Hikes in Sedona: 5 Scenic Trails You Won’t Have to Share with the Crowd
Dry Creek, Soldier Pass Trailheads
Riders can leave their vehicle at the Posse Grounds Park and Ride Lot at 20 Carruth Drive west of Sedona. There is room for 260 vehicles.
From there, the Route 11 shuttle will take them to the Dry Creek Trailhead, which provides access to the Chuckwagon Trail, the Girdner Trail, and the extremely popular natural arch known as Devils Bridge.
Or they can take Shuttle 14 to the Soldier Pass trailhead to reach the Soldier Pass Trail, Devils Kitchen Sinkhole, and Seven Sacred Pools. When the shuttles are running, the Soldier Pass Trailhead parking lot will be closed.
The Route 12 shuttle is scheduled to begin operations in the summer. It will take hikers from Posse Grounds to Mescal Trailhead, which will open up several additional trails in the Dry Creek area.
Parking was problematic at each of these trailheads.
Soldier Pass only has 14 spots in a residential area. Near the Cathedral Rock Trail, people often park illegally along the road, damaging the fragile environment. The same thing happens along Dry Creek Road. Vehicles are often lined up for miles, marking the landscape and posing a driving hazard, for a chance to walk to Devils Bridge.
“We think the shuttle can make a big difference with congestion and parking on Dry Creek Road,” Keene said. “Taking the shuttle guarantees you a seat. You get out onto the trail and don’t have to spend time looking for a parking spot that might not be there.
5 Things Backpackers Should Know About Sedona’s Free Shuttle
- There is no charge for parking or shuttle. A Red Rock Pass is not required at these trailheads, so the entire experience is free.
- Toilets and garbage cans are located in the park-and-ride lots and at the start of the trails. Please pack all trash.
- Sedona Shuttle buses are wheelchair accessible and have racks for up to three bikes, available on a first-come, first-served basis. Additional bicycles can be accommodated in the wheelchair spaces on the bus, if available.
- The shuttle is a public transport. Federal rules require face masks until at least April 18. If you don’t have a mask, the driver will provide you with one.
- When you’re done hiking, take a shuttle from the trailhead to your vehicle.
Details: 928-203-5152, sedonashhuttle.com.
Continued:These loop hikes from Sedona cover the best red rock scenery
4 Favorite Hikes on the Sedona Shuttle Routes
Bell Rock Trail: A wide, easy trail provides up-close views of the iconic Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, and other formations. Enjoy panoramic views along its entire length. There’s even a route to the top of Bell, which involves scrambling and good grippy soles on your hiking boots.
Little Horse Trail: This path rises gently in bewitching woods guarding the sides of a stony plateau. You’ll pass two spiers of red rock, weave through a gate, then clamber over a huge saddle of slickrock surrounded by a panorama of eroded cliffs. This spectacular setting is known as Chicken Point.
If you want to walk further, continue on the Broken Arrow trail, which leads to Submarine Rock and the sinkhole known as Devil’s Dining Room.
Soldier Pass Trail: Close to town, this hike takes you to several unusual sights, including the Devil’s Kitchen, a mammoth and fairly active sinkhole that collapsed in 1989 and 1995. A little further afield you’ll find the Seven Sacred Pools, a series sumps carved naturally into the rock. It’s a wonderful photo if you arrive after a rainy day.
Devil’s Bridge Trail: Sedona’s largest sandstone arch is a shy beauty nestled in a small canyon. The moderate trail goes through juniper forests to the gorge. The trail splits so you can enjoy the view from the base of the sandstone formation. Or continue up a steep natural rock staircase to the top of the arch. You can even cross the Devil’s Bridge on foot. It’s not as terrifying as it looks when you’re down there, but be careful.
Continued:Here are 3 of Arizona’s most scenic drives and how to do them
Plan your spring and summer road trips with Roger Naylor
Arizona Republic contributor and author Roger Naylor will discuss his award-winning book, “Arizona’s Scenic Roads & Hikes,” at the Sedona Heritage Museum at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 26. The presentation will include a slide show and Q&A.
In his comprehensive guide, Naylor outlines Arizona’s 27 State-Designated Scenic and Historic Byways, including five National Scenic Byways. The great rides are organized by region and include start and end points, mileage, vibrant photos, full descriptions, nearby hiking trails, and suggestions for local places to eat and sleep.
The event is free and books will be on sale afterwards. The Sedona Heritage Museum is located at 735 Jordan Road. 928-282-7038, sedonamuseum.org.
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