Exploring Sedona on a mountain bike

posted in: Tales from Trails, Travel Tips | 5

In his own words Todd Hodder is “turning a 180 and taking a journey into the unknown.” Packing up a converted mini camper and leaving his city job, Todd is heading out on a voyage – traveling western US and Canada to explore the outdoors on foot and on his two-wheels. Keep up with Todd’s adventure by visiting his blog vanlifeamerica.com. And from time-to-time, Todd will appears on bikepirate to share his latest two-wheeled exploits; this is his first from Sedona, Arizona. 

Desert riding: Sedona, Arizona

Sedona Arizona

Have you ever been somewhere that immediately stirred emotions of excitement, happiness and joyful bewilderment? Perhaps a place you could call home? Welcome, to Sedona, Arizona. The surroundings are breathtaking, the activities are abundant, and the lifestyle is one for the soul of an adventurer.

Sedona boasts some of the most intricate geological deposits that you can easily view from the main roadways, but that’s not why you’re reading this. You’re reading this because you seek an adventure, one that will take you to one of the world’s most renown mountain biking meccas. Sedona is a small town, approximately 10,000 people, ballooning during the winter months January – March as the temperatures are perfect for riding all day. This, as you can imagine, is a snowbird’s haven and you will be surrounded by a population of oddly dressed, Titleist sporting folk with a bag of clubs trusted to their dearest caddies.

Beginner to extreme terrain

Now, onto the mountain biking. First and foremost let me take a moment and express my appreciation to the trail builders in this area. They’re vision for the local trail network serves the beginner rider on through to the pro/expert rider with ample riding opportunities. You are only limited by your abilities and let me tell you, there are a few trails located here that even the Pro rider thinks twice about taking on. White Line in particular is one of the more prolific trails around, and it is not for the faint at heart. The Ultimate exposure line is absolutely a No Fall Zone. My Advice; be a mountain goat, or be SpiderMan, You choose!

Begin at Bike and Bean

Once arriving in Sedona, make your way over to the Bike & Bean located just off Highway 179. Pick up the local trail map for $12 US and ask the shop dudes for a list of suggested trails to rip. They will happily provide you with ideas based upon your skill level and biking desires. If you don’t know what type of terrain you’re getting into, then let me break it down as to what you should expect.

Trails to explore

Sedona is Red Rock land. The area is dry, elevation ranges from 4300-7200 feet (1320-2190 meters) and there are plenty of trails that you will want to experience. Begin with rides in the SW region by parking at the Bell Rock Trailhead off highway 179. This large parking lot is located east of the trailhead and you will need a “red rock pass” to park here, which is strictly enforced. The cost is $5-$20. – Insider tip: buy one at the local K store as they have daily, weekly, and annual passes available for purchase.  The trails begin across the highway; you’ll be making your way over to ride Slim Shady, Templeton, Baldwin and looping back to where you started. The terrain will be a mix of very fine stone, sand and small loose rocks; but wait, they don’t call it red rock just for it’s pretty colours. On almost every trail you ride, there will be red rock obstacles to overcome; presented in all shapes and sizes. They are surprisingly tacky and you dig in where you would think “oh no, I’m definitely going to slip/crash on this one.” I was pleasantly surprised at some of the stuff I ascended and descended without a slipping or sliding.

Slim Shady and the first half of Templeton is great for the Intermediate to advanced rider, nothing too big to overcome and the views are unreal; make sure to keep your eyes on the trails, watch for other bikers and hikers alike. Okay, you just got through the first half and now onto part two! The second half is a bit more challenging. The rocks get bigger, the descents and ascents get steeper and the tech cranks it up a notch! Baldwin will also provide about the same level of challenges as the second half of Templeton. Be sure to Ride Baldwin counter clockwise. Now that you have completed your first 3-4 hour day, approximately 11mil/18km, fuel up, rest up, and recover for your next adventure.

Sedona Arizona

Next up: Courthouse

Head to the Courthouse Parking lot and find your way to Llama trail, riding along it to Little Horse. The technical challenges will increase on Little Horse, some parts are hike-a-bike; unless you are indeed Spiderman or a Mountain goat. Broken Arrow will be up next, but before you start on that trail, you will be stopping at Chicken Point. It is here that you will get to feast your eyes on the prolific White Line trail. The line is daunting, even to look at. After pondering your immortality and wisely taking a pass on White Line, continue onto Submarine rock which you can see from Chicken Point. Submarine rock will remind you of, or introduce you to, the Moab flavour of riding. It is all slick rock and super fun to whip around on for about 15-20 minutes. From there enjoy more stunning views before beginning your return trip back to the parking lot. The return is fast, flowy and lots of fun. Enjoy!

Coconino forest

The Coconino forest is a must see and a landscape unparalleled to anything I had previously visited. I hope that you get a chance to visit here sometime. For more information visit the official website.


There are lots of places to stay, whether it be lavish hotels and villas or motels and campgrounds for the budget minded individual. If you’re into camping (Ultimate Budget/Adventure folk) you’ll be just outside of town, but just 15-30 mins drive, and you’re back on the trails. Here are a few of the campgrounds;

There are plenty more trails, zones and areas to ride. I leave it to you, explore, have fun and be safe out there kids. And most importantly, stick to the designated trails. The Cacti are nothing to mess with, trust me!

Until next time, happy trails!

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