For hikers looking for a challenge, Bear Mountain is one of the most amazing hikes you’ll find in Arizona. It is strenuous, with four false peaks that’ll leave you wondering if you’ll ever make it to the top. Don’t despair; allow plenty of time, take it at your own pace, and pack plenty of water and food. You’ll be rewarded with the most breathtaking views of Sedona along the way and the San Francisco Peaks at the summit.
Trail Name: Bear Mountain Trail No. 54
Type of trail: Out-and-back
Total distance round-trip: 4.6 miles
Time: 4-6 hours
Trailhead Location: From the “Y” roundabout where Highway 179 meets Highway 89A, drive west on Highway 89A about 3 miles. Turn right on Dry Creek Road, and drive about 3 miles to a stop sign at the end. Turn left on Boynton Pass Road, and proceed about 1.5 miles to another stop sign. Turn left onto FR 152C. Continue 1.2 miles to the trailhead parking on the left. Cross the street from the parking area to access the trailhead.
Trailhead elevation: 4600 feet
Elevation gain: 2100 feet
Open: Year-round. Summer can be very hot. Exercise extreme caution if there is any ice or snow in the winter.
Cost: $5 for a daily Red Rock Pass (purchase at parking lot)
What to pack: Bring LOTS of water (at least 1 gallon per person) as well as high energy snacks. We recommend bringing electrolyte tablets to add to your water for the second half of the hike. Sunscreen is also a must, as most of the trail is fully exposed to the sun. Hiking poles definitely come in handy, too.
Trail Notes: The beginning of the trail crosses two washes and then starts a gradual 1/4-mile ascent to the base of the mountain. You’ll then encounter a steep and rocky section of switchbacks, climbing 450 feet fairly quickly. The trail is not always obvious, so watch for white painted diamond-shaped markers to guide you across rock where the trail is indistinct. It levels out following a narrow plateau area, and then begins another steep rocky 500 foot climb in a narrow side canyon to a broad plateau. It crosses the plateau gradually ascending, dips down, and then climbs another 400 feet to a false summit. Look right (Northeast) for views of Fay Canyon. The trail continues a moderate climb to the true summit. There are great panoramic views here of Sedona and the San Francisco Peaks in the distance.