Ah, autumn. That ideal time of year when the days are sunny and the evenings are brisk. It’s the perfect month to tackle the wide, scenic trail that leads from iconic Bell Rock to Little Horse Trailhead. This route is popular with hikers, mountain bikers, dog walkers and trail runners, especially right now. (The trail has very little shade, and with a one-way distance of 3.6 miles, we don’t recommend hiking it when it’s hot outside.) And if you’re looking to burn some calories after that Thanksgiving feast, this is a great way to do it.
We started our hike at Little Horse Trailhead with Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte in front of us. Hike 0.32 mile from the trailhead, and Little Horse Trail enters on your left. Bell Rock Pathway is the starting point for numerous trails in this area. Stay straight at this first trail junction and soon you’ll cross a picturesque wooden bridge. Just on the other side of the bridge, H.T. Trail branches off to the left.
Bell Rock Pathway makes a steady climb toward its namesake, but it’s not strenuous. You’ll come upon the Bail and Llama trails on your right after hiking 1.17 miles – both are popular and challenging mountain bike routes. The trail that leads to the top of Baby Bell starts 1.77 miles into your hike, and just 0.10 mile later, you’ll spot the junction of Bell Rock Pathway and Phone Trail. These trails are all worth exploring, but during our most recent hike, we stayed on the main path, enjoying rocky washes, slick-rock ledges, juniper trees and prickly pear cactus. This trail comes uncomfortably close to SR 179 in many places, so don’t hike it expecting quiet and solitude. Instead, expect some of Sedona’s most recognized views.
After you’ve been walking nearly 2.5 miles, the trail that leads to Bell Rock begins on your left (Bell Rock Loop). Continue on Bell Rock Pathway, and you’ll reach Courthouse Butte Loop (one of our favorite trails) 3.03 miles from the trailhead. You’re up close and personal with Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte in this area, so don’t forget your camera.
The trail ends at the Bell Rock Trailhead parking lot 3.6 miles from the start of your hike. You can opt to leave a second car in this parking lot, or return the way you came for a round-trip hike of 7.4 miles. On your way back, you’ll have views of the Chapel of the Holy Cross, Capitol Butte, Airport Mesa, Casner and Wilson mountains and Cathedral Rock.