For some of the most expansive views in Sedona, you don’t have to climb to the top of Wilson Mountain or the Mogollon Rim. Sugarloaf, that little red rock mound at the base of Capitol Butte that is visible from nearly any point in West Sedona, offers up some lovely vistas with minimal exertion. It’s an ideal location to watch the sun rise or set, picnic or take in the landscape after a snowstorm, which is what we did one wintry afternoon. A word of caution: If you do hike Sugarloaf after a storm, consider wearing crampons (spikes that attach to your hiking boots) because the trail can be quite icy and thus slippery.
The trail begins off Buena Vista Drive in a neighborhood in West Sedona. Begin hiking on the Teacup Trail toward Capitol Butte. After .34 mile, you’ll reach the junction of Teacup Trail and Thunder Mountain Trail. Continue on Teacup. A short time later (.39 mile from the trailhead), you’ll come to the intersection of Teacup and Sugarloaf Loop. Turn right and begin hiking the loop. To your left you’ll have close-up views of Capitol Butte, aka Thunder Mountain, Coffee Pot Rock and the surrounding formations. The trail stays relatively flat until you reach the spur for Sugarloaf Summit at .53 mile. Turn right and climb to the top for those aforementioned views. The climb is short and not too steep – you’ll reach the top in less than .25 mile. Enjoy views of Airport Mesa with Courthouse Butte, Bell Rock, Castle Rock and Cathedral Rock peeking out from behind. Take in the Soldier Pass area and its Devil’s Kitchen sinkhole. To the southwest, you can see Cottonwood, Mingus Mountain and Jerome. If you happen to be up there after a snowstorm, the snow-dusted rooftops in West Sedona sparkle in the sunlight.
After taking in the views, make your way back down the summit and turn right on the trail to continue the loop. This flat route meanders through juniper trees and prickly pear cactus. During our hike, we had this portion of the trail to ourselves, leading us to believe most people summit Sugarloaf and then return the way they came. The trail connects with Teacup Trail 1.37 miles from the beginning of your hike. Turn left on Teacup Trail, and return to the trailhead for a 2-mile round-trip hike.
SEDONA MOUNTAIN BIKING: Trail Masters