Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Brins Mesa Trail

During our 3-day visit to the Flagstaff area we made the short drive down to Sedona. Based on a little bit of research I did beforehand, we settled on hiking the Brins Mesa Trail. This spectacular trail passes through magnificent red rock country as it makes its way to the top of Brins Mesa. With two trailheads, hikers have the option of starting from either end of the trail, or doing a one-way hike if you have multiple cars. We chose to begin our hike from the Jim Thompson Trailhead, which is accessed from Jordan Road in the heart of the town of Sedona.

The first mile travels over some fairly easy terrain that includes sweeping views of Mormon Canyon, The Mitten and several other red rock formations. Over the next four-tenths of a mile, however, the trail climbs roughly 320 feet as it marches to the top of Brins Mesa. Although we started the hike relatively early in the morning, it was already scorching hot by the time we reached the top. I definitely recommend starting early and bringing lots of water as you will be exposed to the sun for most of the route.

In addition to beautiful red rock country, the trail features a wide variety of desert plant life, including agave, banana yucca, prickly pear, juniper and pinyon pines.

Expecting a desert landscape at the top of the mesa, we were both surprised to see more of a prairie environment. Either way, the views were quite stunning.

Once you arrive at the top of the mesa look for an unmarked side trail that leads to the right. After an easy walk of about one-third of a mile on flat terrain you’ll reach a spectacular overlook of Mormon Canyon. Beyond the overlook the side trail continues for another half-mile or so to a view overlooking Angel Falls.

Back on the main trail, look almost straight ahead and you should notice what looks like a small cream colored butte off in the distance. After walking a short distance the trail will pass-by this rock out-cropping. As you approach it, look for a side trail that leads towards the eastern end of the rock. Don’t pass this up! A short easy climb to the top of the butte provides the best views along the entire trail. You’ll have panoramic, 360-degree views of the entire canyon from this vantage point.

From this out-cropping the trail begins to descend a little more rapidly. Roughly 2.1 miles from the trailhead you’ll reach the Soldier Pass Trail junction. This trail can be used in conjunction with the Jordan Trail to create a loop back to the trailhead. Your total mileage for this loop hike would be roughly 5.2 miles.

From the junction the trail continues its descent past the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness boundary, roughly 2.4 miles from the trailhead. As it continues the trail passes through a forested area of large pine trees, before ending at its northern terminus off FR 152.

Back in Sedona we paid a visit to the Oak Creek Brewing Company where we had a chance to try some fairly exotic beers, including a banana and clove beer, a combo Belgian Abby Ale/Oktoberfest, and a dessert beer made with vanilla and mandarin orange – one of the smoothest tasting beers I’ve ever had. Afterwards we had some great enchiladas from the Oaxaca Restaurant.

Trail: Brins Mesa Trail #119
Roundtrip Distance: 7.2 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 980 feet
Max Elevation: 5080 Feet
Red Tape: A fee is required to enter the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness.

Great Sedona Hikes contains detailed information on 55 of Sedona's greatest hikes. It includes updated trail descriptions, detailed maps, specific directions to the trailheads, GPS waypoints, and several trails not found in any other hiking guides.

Hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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