Devil’s Bridge – Sedona, Arizona…

The Devil’s Bridge is a small natural bridge located in the Secret Canyon area of Sedona, Arizona.  Even if it doesn’t offer the grandeur of some of the more famous sandstone arches, it’s still the largest natural stone arch around Sedona.  The trail is located a few miles up FR152, a sketchy dirt road that can easily be impassable in, or after, bad weather and which is often closed when there’s snow.  Even dry, the dirt road is rocky, uneven, narrow in places with patches of deep sand.  A 4-wheel-drive is usually recommended but I did see plenty of 2-wheel-drive weekend warriors making their way out there with little trouble.

I had to travel to Sedona for work, and after my morning meeting had a few hours to kill.  Not nearly enough time to get in a good long hike in the back-country around Sedona, but enough time to hit a small target like Devil’s Bridge.  The total trail isn’t much more than a mile round trip.  After paying for my Red Rock Pass, I wanted to add a little more distance on to the hike, so I drove a short ways down 152 and found a good spot to park my truck so I could hoof-it the rest of the way to the trailhead.  For those who wouldn’t want to add the mileage, there is a small area at the trailhead to park maybe 5 or 6 cars off the road.  The trailhead is clearly marked and the trail itself is very well established.

The hike was little more than a walk, but a nice walk in incredibly scenic country.  It is a consistent and gradual uphill climb twisting along a fairly wide path with the occasional stone ledge cutting the trail.  After a short hike up the trail, you enter the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness area.  This is right about the time you can get your first glimpse of the natural bridge from the trail.  It doesn’t look like much from out along the trail, the real drama of the arch is experienced up close.

Stacked stone stairs…

The trail forks as it approaches the arch.  The left trail wanders down easily to the bottom of the Natural Bridge formation.  I didn’t go this way.  The trail to the right climbs very quickly to a ledge that allows you to approach the bridge from above.  The trail literally climbs a series of stone stairs stacked into the cliff-side to reach the top.  It’s actually a really well made and maintained trail that leads to the top and brings you up close and personal with the top of Devil’s Bridge.  As a Winter hike, this spot spends almost the entire day in shadow and can get pretty cold.  It was almost 70 degrees out when I hiked this trail, but in the shadow of the adjacent ridge there was still ice on part of the trail that had not melted away from the previous month’s snowfall.  As most of the other hikers ambled along in their jackets and sweaters I bounded up the steps in my t-shirt and shorts in an effort to keep the cold from getting to me.

Once at the top, getting cold in the shadow of the mountain, phone/camera dying, running out of time, I really wished I had planned better and could spend a couple of hours here.  I would have liked to explore the arch, take my time getting some really nice photos and maybe even have lunch.  Instead, I snapped a couple of pictures until my phone died completely, then headed back.

Maybe next time…

Devil’s Bridge – Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness.

Some trailhead parking. From Sedona take Highway 89A west to Dry Creek Road.  Look for FR 152 on the right, there is a small parking area and a Red Rock Pass purchase booth.  You can hike from here or drive the 1.5 miles or so to the trailhead parking area.

Trail Length: 1 mile round-trip (from the trailhead)
Elevation Gain: 700 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Year-round but road may be closed in poor weather.

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