Despite most articles that show Sedona being all about major exposure and crazy technical lines, there's actually quite a bit of variety in the area when it comes to mountain bike trails. Thanks to literally hundreds of miles of trails within 15 minutes of town, there's something for every level of rider that visits Sedona. From the insanely exposed lines on Hangover, to the uber-technical sections on HiLine, all the way down to the flowy intermediate singletrack of West Sedona, you can ride a little bit of everything over the course of a few days. And that's exactly what we did... over three days of riding, we went out to sample everything Sedona had to offer.
And we came away satisfied. I think the locals would refer to it as being "cleansed".Day One: West Sedona (Chuckwagon - Mezcal - Long Canyon - Aerie - Cockscomb)
Since we left Albuquerque that morning, we didn't actually get a full day of riding in, but we managed to sample the goods over a few hours before sunset in West Sedona. This area is absolutely perfect for intermediate riders, with most of the trails being fairly easy in terms of technical ability. There are some fun sections to keep riders on their toes, but overall this is a good introduction to Sedona riding. Not much climbing or descending, but damn these trails are fun either way. My recommendation is to time it perfectly so you're ending your ride near sunset, as the view from the trailhead is beautiful, and the red rocks light up when the sun goes down.Day Two: Hangover
Everyone's heard about Hangover, and you've probably seen videos and read articles about it. Coming from someone who's ridden everything in Moab and most other places in the west, the Hangover Trail is the real deal. It starts off innocently enough (after you make the initial climb on Schnebly Hill Rd or the Munds Wagon Trail, of course), but it quickly gets into "holy sh*t" territory with overhanging cliffs, technical rock rollovers, and anything else you can imagine. I'll be upfront and honest - no way did I ride everything. Not even close. But, one of my good friends lives in the area and knows these trails like the back of his hand, and he impressed us beyond belief. I'm not sure how he sits on his WTB saddle with balls that big.Day Two, Part Two: Teacup Trails
After stopping at the local Whole Foods to refuel with organic smoothies and pepperoni pizza, we decided to get another ride in before the sun went down. Since we were less than a mile from the trailhead, we hit the Teacup trail network. Another great area, the Teacup trails are more technical in nature than the name leads you to believe; lots of punchy climbs and short technical rocky sections that will leave you feeling humbled and sometimes frustrated. However, there are tons of fun sections here, the views are great, and you can put in plenty of miles thanks to the large network on the north side of 89A.Day Three: Slim Shady - HiLine - Baldwin - Templeton
This network that sits south of Sedona proper (closer to the town of Oak Creek) is most well-known for the inclusion of HiLine, but it has plenty of other trails to offer. Here, you get the opportunity to really put in the miles and ride trails as you see fit. Ideally, go with a local because otherwise, it'll be tough to find your way without pulling out a map at every intersection. Most of the trails in this area are intermediate to advanced in nature, with gentle grades mixed with technical sections and fun features. HiLine stands out because of its slick rock riding, fun rollovers, and long, extended section of STEEP technical fall-line riding. For us mere mortal riders, expect to walk your bike occasionally, but everything is rideable and these trails are a fun challenge for most everyone we know.
Steve Mokan owns and operates Chasing Epic, a brand new adventure travel company that offers all-inclusive, guided mountain bike trips to iconic destinations across the western US... Sedona obviously being one of them. Chasing Epic also runs trips in Crested Butte, Durango, Fruita, Park City, St. George and Telluride. Each trip includes lodging, meals, guides, high-end carbon bikes (by Niner and Ibis), customized training programs, ride nutrition, shuttles and more. To learn more about their trips, check out www.chasingepicmtb.com
Til next time, Sedona. We even got a proper send-off from the Phoenix airport on our last night...