Monday, December 16, 2013
Beware of the double diamond trail rating. That's mountain bike speak for extremely difficult, and Sedona's new Hiline Trail is most worthy of this designation. Initially created by the biking community, the trail has been recently stabilized and absorbed into the forest service system. Renowned for its edgy-ledgey exposure, slick rock and technical chutes, it's not a trail for novice hikers or those who fear heights. The narrow, serpentine route clings to the vertical face of a north-south running butte serving up a carousel of terrific views including Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock and the mountains surrounding Jerome and Prescott Valley.
At the 1.5-mile point, the trail meets "the Pedestal" a remarkable sandstone outcrop with dizzying vistas and abysmal drop offs. Beyond the Pedestal, the route becomes even more dodgy, traversing loose rock, tight turns and precariously close-to-the-edge segments on its way to connect with Baldwin Trail where numerous loop options and (safer) return routes can be planned.
LENGTH: 3.2 miles 1-way
ELEVATION: 4086' - 4646'
FEE: a Red Rock Pass ($5 daily) is required
FACILITIES: map kiosk, interpretive signs, pass vending machine
From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to the Sedona-Oak creek exit 298 SR179. Head west on SR179 and continue to the Back O' Beyond traffic circle near milepost 310. Swing around the circle and go 1.4 miles south on SR179 to the Yavapai Point trailhead on the right. To reach Hiline Trail, hike less than a mile south on the Shady Slim trail to the signed junction.