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Monday, August 13, 2018


A shady spot on the Ant Hill Loop Trail
For a few precious days each summer, monsoon rains cool the air just enough to make hiking in Sedona bearable. 
A slick rock bend on Ant Hill Loop
Although sweltering temperatures rarely scare determined hikers away from Red Rock Country trails, the exposed, stony terrain of the high-desert trekking hub amplifies heat, making for an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous journey.  After a good monsoon soaking, though, lingering moisture offers brief respite.
Newborn frogs emerge from a monsoon puddle.
Summer is also an ideal time to try some of Sedona’s shorter, lesser-used trails.  The Ant Hill Loop resides in a shady pocket south of the hyper-popular Soldier Pass-Brins Mesa route that features a set of famous natural arches, the Seven Sacred Pools and Devils Kitchen sinkhole. 
Desert frogs & toads grow from eggs to fledglings in days
With nearby attractions like those diverting traffic, it’s likely you’ll encounter little company on the Ant Hill Loop.  Tethered to the north end of the Adobe Jack trail system northwest of town, the mini circuit can be hiked as a quick out-and-back trip or combined with dozens of linked routes for an all-day outing.
Puddles serve as frog nurseries in monsoon season.
To find the obscure path, begin on Soldier Pass Trail and hike 0.2-mile to the Jordan Trail junction at Devil’s Kitchen.
   Head right (east) and follow Jordan Trail 0.5-mile to the signed turnoff. 
Red rock spires seen from the Jordan Trail
The half-mile-long loop swoops through cypress woodlands and shrubby drainages with excellent views of iconic rock formations like Chimney Rock, Coffee Pot Rock and Airport Mesa. 
The trail is part of the Adobe Jack System in NW Sedona.
A favorite side-trip for mountain bikers, the trail is replete with slick rock traverses and edgy bends. This highly textured trail is a mashup of smooth rock, spiked agaves, peeling bark, knotty wood grains and tiny quartz crystal nodules glinting from russet sandstone. 
Pine and cypress trees shade Ant Hill Loop.
The Grand Central Trail---one of the backbone routes of the Adobe Jack system—bisects the loop. Use the map signs at each junction to customize your trek or simply go full circle and swing back the way you came. 
Agaves are plentiful along the trail.
In addition to giving hikers a bit of relief, monsoon rain creates fugitive water sources critical in the life-cycle of desert critters.  Standing pools like those found in cracks, sandy rivulets and potholes along rocky Sedona trails can become pop-up nurseries for frogs and toads that grow from egg to tadpole to adult in just days.  Some never make it out of their nursery before the life-giving water evaporates. The lucky ones live to adapt and survive in rhythm with the rains. Just like hikers.
Crystals in sandstone.
Artistic natural textures. 
LENGTH: 1.8 miles as described here.
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 4315 - 4520 feet
GETTING THERE: Soldier Pass Trailhead:
From the State Route 179/89A traffic circle in Sedona, go 1.25 miles west (left, toward Cottonwood) to Soldier Pass Road. Turn right and drive 1.5 miles to Rim Shadows, turn right and continue 0.1-mile to the trailhead on the left. Trailhead gate is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
A Red Rock pass is NOT required to park at this trailhead.

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