With an unprecedented number of sunny days in January and February and an influx of visitors from the East Coast this winter, Sedona trails have seen a fair amount of use thus far in 2014. So if you’re looking for some solitude, there’s no better hike than Mooney Trail. Its remote location off FR 525C, a graded dirt road, keeps many hikers at bay. Pair that with a dramatic ascent at the end of the trail, and many people would rather explore a more accessible canyon. They don’t know what they are missing.
Mooney Trail begins as a jeep road at Black Tank near the junction of FR 525C and 9551. (Look for the metal Mooney Trail #12 sign at the tank, which serves as a watering hole for wildlife.) Though it’s possible to drive from Black Tank all the way to Sebra Tank, you would definitely need a four-wheel-drive, high-clearance vehicle. Instead, we parked at Black Tank and made our way along the dirt road. Even though we were hiking on the weekend, there wasn’t a car in sight. After less than a mile, the trail turns left and narrows. It climbs to the top of a ridge and offers expansive views of Casner Mountain and Robbers Roost.
Mooney Trail enters into a wilderness area after you pass Sebra Tank, 3.71 miles into your hike. Just before you reach wilderness, you’ll notice an interesting ranch at the mouth of the canyon. It was the only sign of civilization we came across during our entire hike. Mooney narrows dramatically and quickly descends into colorful, quiet Spring Canyon, which was dry during our hike. We made our way along the rocky trail and spotted a bald eagle soaring high above. The sounds of chirping birds echoed across red-rock canyon walls, and we spotted tufts of javelina fur. We hiked 4.09 miles and stopped at a large field of slick rock for lunch. Mooney Trail continues along the canyon floor for another half-mile before making a steep, exposed ascent to the top of the Mogollon Rim. It ends at the junction of Taylor Cabin and Casner Mountain trails, but in our opinion, you’re better off exploring Spring Canyon and then returning the way you came for an 8-mile round-trip hike. You’ll enjoy stunning views and a peace and quiet we haven’t encountered on any other trail in Sedona in a long time.