The verdict is in: Courthouse Butte Loop is one of the prettiest trails you’ll hike in the snow – and it’s easy. The 4.5-mile loop traverses the base of Courthouse Butte, one of Sedona’s largest monoliths, and offers up Instagrammable views of iconic Bell Rock. Though the network of trails in this area are some of the most popular in Sedona, during our wintry weekday hike, we practically had it all to ourselves.
Begin your hike at the Bell Rock Pathway parking lot on AZ-179 just north of Bell Rock Boulevard. Start out on wide, flat Bell Rock Pathway walking straight toward Bell Rock. Courthouse Butte is the massive, square-shaped formation to the right of Bell Rock. Castle Rock is on your left and across the highway. After hiking a little more than a half-mile, turn right onto Courthouse Butte Loop. The trail runs parallel to its namesake, and we love studying the cracks, crevices and water stains along the butte’s shear walls. At the 0.87-mile point, you’ll encounter a trail sign for Bell Rock Pathway and Big Park Loop – hike in the direction of Bell Rock Pathway (east).
Continue your journey, and 1.5 miles from the trailhead, you’ll cross a picturesque slickrock wash that always has at least one or two large puddles (both were covered in ice during our hike). Your trail continues on the other side of the wash, crossing several tributaries as you go. Look to the right to see the Rabbit Ears formation. Snow-covered Lee Mountain stands tall in front of you. Just a few more steps, and you’ve entered into wilderness area. It’s this section of the trail we find especially peaceful with plenty of ledges for sitting a spell and taking in the scenery. The trail begins to climb here, so watch your footing if conditions are icy. After hiking 2.28 miles, the trail turns west, offering up views of the back of Cathedral Rock. Hike another 0.2 mile and your view includes Capitol Butte, Airport Mesa, Twin Buttes, Cockscomb and Robber’s Roost.
Three miles from where you started your hike, Llama Trail – a popular mountain biking route – begins on your right. The formation locals refer to as Baby Bell stands in front of you. It’s here that Courthouse Butte Loop rejoins Bell Rock Pathway. Turn left and stay on Bell Rock Pathway. You’re back at your car (and the heater) 4.5 miles after beginning your hike.