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Airport Loop, Sedona, AZ, USA
Airport Loop Trail: Sedona, AZ
This is moderate trail with one of the best collection of viewing opportunities on all of the Sedona trails. Because the trail wraps 360 degrees around the airport Mesa, you get a full panorama of Sedona monuments in all cardinal directions.
Parking is a trick for the actual trailhead. This is a very popular location, the trailhead being adjacent to a well known energy vortex that tourists from all over the world come to visit. Even so, there are only about 10 total parking spots, all of which were taken. Alternatively, you can travel further up the hill (and pay $3 for parking), and hike down the “Sedona View” trail for about a 1/2 mile to get back to the trailhead.
I rate the Airport Loop trail as moderate because it is VERY ROCKY. There isn’t a huge amount of elevation gain or loss across the trail, but the rockiness makes the pathway much harder to travel. If you have knee issues, definitely bring poles for additional support on the downhills.
Rockiness aside, the trail is well maintained. Most of the tourists stay over by the vortex, so once you get onto the trail itself things are quite peaceful with beautiful Sedona vistas in all directions. Like it says in the name, the trail makes a full loop around the airport Mesa, returning you back to where you started about 3.5 miles later...plus the extra 1/2 mile back to parking lot to get the car ;)
**I had an oops with Gaia and missed a small segment near the beginning of the proper trail.**
Cathedral Peak Hike
Cathedral Peak via Arlington Peak
This hike is no joke. I read on multiple sites that this is the hardest Trail in Santa Barbara, and I believe it. It is more climb than hike for most of the trail. The trail is difficult to follow at times. It’s hot! The rocks are sharp. It is 2,000+ ft worth of up. I’m in pretty good shape, and live in Flagstaff where everyday is high altitude training, so I figured I’d be ok. I was, but the heat and humidity were a huge factor.
Bring lots of water. I’m hiking in July, so, it’s the hottest part of the year. I brought my 1L nalgene and 2.5L Osprey bladder, and I was wishing for another .5 at the very end.
The trail starts at the top of Tunnel Rd in Santa Barbara. You have to park on the side of the road leading up to the gate. It was already loaded with cars at 6:30 am (early morning walkers mostly). From the gate you walk up Spyglass Ridge Rd for about a mile until you come to the Jesusita Trailhead. Go left at the trailhead and start heading up. After a while you come to a triangular trail marker, and you will bear left. This is the Inspiration Point Trailhead. Follow this trail until you get to the Mission Creak-bed.
At the creak, you will pick up the 7-Falls trail. It was tricky to find, as you can see from all of the squiggles in the track. The entry, and the first 25 yards or so are overgrown...the road less traveled. Once you have found the trail, start heading up and eventually you reach a left trail join for the Cathedral Peak Trail. Around this point I realized that my trekking poles were not going to be useful. I found them very helpful on the final stretch back down, so I found them still worth bringing.
Now the trail starts getting steep and rocky. Very quickly it becomes much more of a climb than a hike. The rocks are all sandstone and really tear up your finger tips. Some reviews said bring gloves, and I understand why. I did not have gloves, so I wrapped tape around my finger tips. I ended up re-taping at least twice because they got shredded.
From here on you just climb up. The trail can be tricky to follow, but since “up” is where you want to go, it doesn’t matter too much. There were definitely some places where all of a sudden there was just a dead end, and I had to back track. There are also some handy cairns here and there the help along the way. Following the trail back down was more tricky.
There are so many beautiful viewpoints on the trail. It was very enjoyable despite the significant work out. After much climbing, you come to Arlington peak. From there you travel across a saddle to the base of Cathedral peak. I have to say, after what it took to get to Arlington peak, it was intimidating looking up at Cathedral peak. The climb to Cathedral is very similar to Arlington as you climb higher and higher.
At the very top there is a register, with some emergency snacks. Sign the book, and enjoy the view. It is wonderful. There is also a strong LTE signal at the top so you can let everyone know you made it. After some rest, I headed back down.
Coming down was just as hard as going up in my opinion. As I mentioned, the trail was harder to find on the way down. Some of those same cairns were there which was helpful. As you can see from the track line, I took a couple wrong turns and had to back track. It also started to get very hot around 12 and the heat and fatigue started to wear. In particular, I missed the turn off of Cathedral trail back on to 7 Falls, and ended at the Mission Creak bed a little too far north.
If that happens to you, enjoy a little boulder hop down the creak until you meet back with the trail. Head on up and out of the creak for the home stretch back to the car.
Phew! What a hike!
Camp Raymond to KA Hill
This a moderate to difficult hike in exertion. Not technically difficult, but there is lot of up once you reach the base of the hill. This review is mostly written for Scouts and Scouters beginning the track at BSA Camp Raymond. The first part of this trail to Dow Springs is very easy and good for anyone. The second part to KA Hill is very vigorous. Experienced hikers will need at least 1L of water, though if you aren’t used to the heat or elevation a full 2.5L bladder is a good idea. Also bring a small snack. I did this trail in about 2 hours round trip, but I was moving at a pretty good pace. Don’t do the hill if you have any heart conditions or compromised breathing.
To the trail: You leave out of Camp Raymond from the Northwest corner of Camp following the directions for the Dow Springs trail. Follow the cairns for about a mile and you will find the springs. Some of the cairns are a little tumbled down. I did a little trail work as a bonus service project, but there is still work that could be done.
At the springs you cross to the other side of the creek and follow the trail until you reach the Syamore Rim Trail Trailhead. The path is more obvious now, and still marked with stone cairns. Eventually you come to Forrest Road 56 and the trailhead. The trail to KA Hill continues almost straight across the road. It was a little tricky to find, but once you are on it, the trail is very easy to follow. It gradually ascends, until it hits the first cutbacks, and then there is a lot of up, climbing about 500 ft over the course of a mile.
After many cutbacks you get to the top which is marked by a sign. There is a crazy infestation of lady bugs right at the top which was both cool and creepy! From there you can continue down the other side, or like me, turn it around and head back to Camp. If you’re at Camp Raymond, and working on your 50 miler, this will net you 7 :)...Hike on.