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North Ranch Mountain Bikers trip to Sedona, Arizona

Thursday May 18 to Monday May 22, 2006

North Ranch and South Bay riders on Submarine Rock on May 20, 2006

Post-trip stuff

General Comments

The scenery was spectacularly beautiful, but the weather was way too hot, in the 90's every day, and there wasn't much shade. Next time we should go in late April at the latest (just after tax time). Overall we had hours of delays due to flat tires. Next time we should require everyone to have Slime in their tubes, or something similar. The greatest problem was the size of the group. There was quite a difference in the capabilities of the riders, so slower riders were dragging (me especially!) while faster riders were eager to push ahead. As a ride leader, I was extremely pissed at people who weren't familiar with the trails and refused to stay with the rest of the group. Fortunately for those who pushed ahead on their own and got lost, notably on the first day (Schenbly Hill), they found their way back to the group on their own, generally after  multiple calls over the radio for assistance. I wasn't about to risk losing more riders by sending out search parties. For future trips we need to do something to keep people together. It would be better to have groups of about a dozen who can ride at the same level and thereby stay together, but that requires one ride leader or guide per group, something that is difficult to accomplish when only one or two people know the trails.



Pre-trip info

This map shows the trails we rode. Hover your mouse over the trail to see it's name. For reference, the Coffee Pot Rock and Secret Trails ride is included, even though we didn't ride there on this trip.

Here's a view of the area in three dimensions. The trails we rode are shown in blue.


Here are some of that hotels that you could stay in. The Days Inn is one of the least expensive in the Sedona area, but it is further from the trails we'll be riding so you'll need to drive to most or all the rides. The Comfort Inn and Quality Inn are a little more expensive, but they're much more central and all rides are within riding distance of the hotels. Note: Except for the Days Inn, prices are approximate and could change as the date of the trip approaches! If you are a member of AAA, you'll get a better price. For the Days Inn, tell them you're with the North Ranch mountain bikers to get this price. Taxes are extra


Days Inn Sedona

Sedona Super 8**

Comfort Inn

Quality Inn - Kings Ransom

Lo Lo Mai Springs Outdoor Resort


 $376.02/4 days
(2 double beds)

 $108/night AAA rate
(2 double beds)

$108/night AAA rate
(2 queen beds)

(2 queen beds)

$15/night per adult
for camping


2991 West 89A
3 miles west of the 179/89A junction
2545 W. Highway 89A
2.4 miles west of the 179/89A junction
725 SR 179
0.7 miles south of the 179/89A junction
771 Highway 179
0.7 miles south of the 179/89A junction
11505 Lo Lo Mai Rd.
Page Springs, Az

Phone Number





(928) 634-4700

Distance to Submarine Rock Trailhead

4.9 miles

4.3 miles

1.2 miles

1.2 miles

15.6 miles

Distance to Schnebly Hill Trailhead

4.2 miles

3.6 miles

1.2 miles

1.2 miles

14.9 miles

Distance to Coffee Pot Rock Trailhead

1.9 miles out
3.0 miles back

1.3 miles out
2.4 miles back

2.7 miles out
0.7 miles back

2.7 miles out
0.7 miles back

12.6 miles

** NOTE: When I stayed in the Super 8 a few years ago, someone threw a big rock through the rear window of my car overnight. The hotel staff didn't seem to be particularly concerned, so I can't recommend this as a place to stay.

If you don't like these accommodations, then find your own hotel at (You'll probably get a better deal if you call the hotel directly, rather than booking through, but they list a large number of hotels, show you where they are and give you an indication of the cost. Also, they may not have a block of rooms booked for the time we'll be there, so if they show that there are no vacancies, call the hotel you want directly to see if there's any availability.)

Post-Trip Report on Accomodations



 Friday: Schnebly Hill (estimated rating: E4, T2 to T4 depending on which route you take down)

Directions to the trailhead
Meet at 9:00 am

The ride starts 0.8 miles up Schnebly Hill Rd from SR 179 where there is a parking area (in 2003 there was a parking fee of $5) Parallel to the fire road you see in the picture is a somewhat technical single track. The locals ride up the road then blast down the single track. However, if you're feeling really studly, you can ride up the single track as well as down. Of the 15 or so North Ranchers who started up the single track in 2003, only 3 or 4 made it all the way up. The rest recognized their folly and jumped back onto the road at one of the several crossings. Not only is the road smoother and has no steps, it is not quite as steep on average. This year we'll go all the way up the road to Schnebly Hill Vista, then take a jeep road 1.3 miles along the mesa to the top of the singletrack The singletrack is about as rocky as Gridley, so if you're not comfortable with that, you can go back down on the road.

The profile shown here is from the 2003 ride so this year it will be a little longer on the way up, but not quite as steep at the top.

Post-trip report

As mentioned earlier on this page, the weather was quite hot which made for a tough climb. Some riders decided to start earlier on their own to try to beat the heat. The ride leader let them know that if they got lost, they were on their own, and fortunately they made the right turns. Compared to our last trip in 2003, the Schnebly Hill road was quite a bit rougher than I remembered. There were lots of sharp little rocks protruding from the dirt. There were also more tourist jeeps tearing up and down the road - a lot more. They were probably responsible for the condition of the road. The road we took at the top to get to the single track, Fs Rd 153A, was pretty primitive, hardly a smooth ride! It was a gentle climb so not too difficult despite the rocks. The single track down, Munds Trail, was quite a bit rockier than I recall from our last visit. I guess three years of use and weathering have taken their toll. I would rate the top half of the Munds Trail as T4 to T5.


Saturday: Cathedral Rock (Estimated rating: E3.5, T3 and T4 in different places)

Directions to the trailhead
Meeting time to be determined during Friday's Schnebly Hill ride

This is one of the most fun rides you'll ever do! It is pure cross-country with only a few sections with a gain or loss of more than 50 feet of elevation. This year we'll do it a little differently, including the best parts from our previous trips. The trail starts at the end of Morgan Rd where there is a choice of a dirt road or the more technical Broken Arrow single track to get us to the sinkhole known as the "Devil's Dining Room." We'll take a short detour out to Submarine Rock with the spectacular cliffs of Munds Mountain to Lee Mountain just a mile away. The next stop is Chicken Point, and then on to Little Horse single track. We'll make a sharp left onto the Llama single track, many people's favorite from the last trip, only this time we'll be going in the opposite direction. After a short stint on the Bell Rock Scenic Trail, we'll duck under the highway and onto the Cathedral Rock Trail (pictured above). This will be an out-and-back section, first along the contours of the rock strata, down the switchbacks to the beach at the edge of the river where we'll have a break and something to eat. Then we'll backtrack our route, under the highway again to the Bell Rock Scenic Trail. From here there are several options to get back to the trailhead. The shortest and easiest will be to follow the Bell Rock Trail north to Morgan Road. For those with some energy left, you can return on Llama Trail to Little Horse Trail and then to Bell Rock Trail to Morgan Road (intermediate option) or, for the die-hards, back to the trailhead on Broken Arrow Trail, completely backtracking the way we came.

Length: 13, 15 or 17 miles

Post-trip report

We planned to start at 8:00 am because it was expected to be just as hot at the previous day. We were really fortunate that Gail joined us because he knew all the trails, so the ride leader (me) didn't have to spend any time trying to figure out the connecting trails. We all started on the Broken Arrow Trail from the parking lot as it looked quite easy. However, it soon came to a number of very short hike-a-bikes for most people, both up and down. I found it very tiring, mostly quite level, but a short very steep climb every few hundred yards. After the sinkhole (Devil's Dining Room), we headed down to the jeep road to continue on to Submarine Rock. Next time I think we should take the jeep road instead of Broken Arrow Trail, given the overall length of the ride, and also skip the sinkhole. It's pretty puny compared to the sinkhole ("Devil's Kitchen") in the Secret Trails area.

Submarine rock was a lot of fun and is surrounded by some really pretty mountains. It's a solid piece of sandstone like Slickrock at Moab, although red, and not as bumpy. There were lots of places for people to try steep climbs and descents.

After Submarine Rock we headed to Chicken Point. Most of us, but not all, stuck to the jeep road until we got to Chicken Point. From there we headed down Little Horse Trail. It started off a little bit technical, with one short section that everyone walked, but then turned into a super fun downhill with lots of turns and little steps down. I had forgotten how much fun that trail was.

When we got to Llama Trail, we headed left towards Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. We rode it in the opposite direction from our last visit. Overall, I think it was a little easier the way we went this year. It's a super fun trail, but it took us a long time because of the heat and the tire punctures (you need to stay on the trail to avoid the small cacti that seem to be everywhere).

After Llama Trail we split into two groups - those that would continue on Cathedral Rock Trail as planned, and those that would ride back to the cars by the easiest possible route, due to the heat. Those that rode on were relying on refilling their water bottles at a state park that was about a mile past the "beach" on Oak Creek that was our original end point. Thanks again to Gail who led this group and put up with all the delays due to flat tires.

For those that rode the Cathedral Rock Trail, the total distance was 19.5 miles and ride time was 7 hours. There were a lot of flat tires.


Sunday: Thunder Mountain and Dry Creek Area (Estimate rating: E3.5 to E4, T4)

Directions to the trailhead

Post-trip report

This was a new area to us, and we owe a special thanks to Gail for leading us on this great ride! We started at the Thunder Mountain Trailhead, expeting to be ready to ride by 8:00 am. The first thing we found was that the gate to the parking area opens at 8:00 am. Fortunately the park service opened it a few minutes earlier. Even so, we had to wait for one or two riders who lost their way so we didn't get riding until about 8:30 or later. From the parking lot, we took a great single track for about 3/4 miles to Dry Creek Road. This single track didn't much climbing or descent, but had lots of little steps and rocky sections. Lots of fun! We had a short ride north on Dry Creek Road, then hit a trail just east of the pavement that was roughly parallel to it. Again, no major hills, but some steps and a little rockier - more great fun! Then we crossed the road to head to a new trail that climbed a hill, followed a ridgeline, then descended on the other side. As a new trail it wasn't well packed and quite a challenge to climb. Most of us washed out at one point or another. You really wanted to stay on the trail because there were lots of cacti lurking at the edges. After the ridgeline ride there was a long downhill on the other side, not steep and with a few switchbacks, but we didn't ride very fast because again the trail was very narrow and quite loose. From there it was back to the established trails, then onto Boynton Pass Road for a 1.2 mile ride to the next trail segment, one that would take us to Dead Man's Pass.

Dead Man's Pass Trail consisted of a gentle climb for about 1.2 miles, then a fast, fun downhill single track for a mile. We all loved that, in fact a few rode back up for a second shot at it during a break of flat repairing. From there we rode up a single track that took us a third of the way up Mescal Mountain, and then rode the contour half-way across the Mescal Mountain amphitheater. This section was not nearly as well travelled as Cathedral Rock Trail, with lots of loose rocks on the contours, and a number of short contour transitions that were too difficult to ride. When we got to the mid-point of the amphitheater, Gail took a few of the hard-core riders up several contours and back toward the start, so they could have a thrilling end, straight down the contours (this is called the fall-line when skiing!). Most riders found an easier non-fall-line route down, but Gail and later, Brad, went straight down. Brad's descent is shown in the video of this ride.

From the Mescal Mountain Amphitheater Countours, we headed down a single track to a few more flat tires and delays. We ended the ride by cruising down a narrow dry wash. As we got further down, the banks got higher around us, starting at just about a foot, making great berms to turn on. By the time we got to the end, a half mile along, the banks were above our heads, but the wash was still only a few feet wide, so we were effectively riding in a slot canyon. That section was a real hoot! Unfortunately the video camera wasn't recording that section, so it's not shown in the video.

From there, it was pavement back to 3/4 mile singletrack from Dry Creek Road to the trailhead.


 Driving Instructions

There are three routes to get to Sedona. Usually we take a different one on the way back so we see more or the countryside (but really there's not much to see in Arizona except for between Prescott - Sedona - Flagstaff)

Suday's Ride: Thunder Mountain/Dry Creek area Coffee Pot Rock and Secret Trails. We didn't ride here in 2006. Schnebly Hill Road and Munds Trail Broken Arrow Trail, Submarine Rock, Chicken Point, Little Horse Trail, Llama Trail, Cathedral Rock Trail, Bell Rock Scenic Trail Thunder Mountain/Dry Creek area Schnebly Hill Broken Arrow, Submarine Rock, Chicken Point, Little Horse, Llama Trail, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock Scenic Trail