Today’s forecast promised full-fledged Arizona spring weather… 60° and sunny. A visit to the Hike Shop in Sedona yesterday gave us a list of trails we would enjoy. We tried to pick one that would likely be less crowded with weekend tourists. Bear Mountain, at 5 miles round trip and 2000 ft elevation gain, looked like a perfect choice.
I read through a few trail reports and knew to expect some crevice climbing that may require some scrambling, and several “false summits”…. with another mountain beyond the one you just got to the top of. Once we reached the top of this ridge (see below and the saddle area left of the red rock peak above)… we had already climbed 1000 ft and could see Bear Mountain summit another 1000 ft higher and mile and a half farther.
I also knew it was rated one of the most scenic trails Sedona has to offer. A diversity of terrain, many rock layers and several distinctive life zones. If we managed to make it all the way to the final summit we would also be rewarded with a view of Agassiz and Humphreys Peaks …. the snow-covered San Francisco Peaks just north of Flagstaff.
So we packed a lunch, grabbed our hiking sticks, and headed out.
The climb was steady. We encountered a few people as we neared the top of the second “false summit”. The views were splendid and the sun was growing warmer.
We walked another half mile to where the views opened up over canyons and sweeping expanses on both sides of the ridge. Ahead of us we could see the summit of Bear Mountain… and the wind gusted through this open area.
After stopping for lunch we decided to forgo the 800 ft climb ahead and go cross-country a bit here, instead…. enjoying the views and stopping to sketch a bit before heading back down. You can see the trail below us in this picture from the second plateau:
We hiked about 1.7 miles and climbed about 1200 feet in elevation before turning back. Ahead of us was another mile and 800 ft elevation to reach the top, which we could see from where we were. Another time perhaps.
In this panorama Bear Mountain summit is to the far left… Fay Canyon opens up to the west as you pan right.