HIKING

This Sedona hike has famous views and lots of ways to customize. Here's how to try it

Mare Czinar
Special for The Republic
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Prominent in the landscape and aptly named, the聽4,498-foot conical sandstone formation known as the Pyramid serves as a focal point for the Carroll Canyon Area Trails on the west side of Sedona.

Located south of State Route 89A and north of Oak Creek, the iconic landform can be explored using a short loop circuit with options to add length and challenge by linking up with connecting trails.

Access to the loop hike in the deeply incised, conifer-flecked pocket of Coconino National Forest starts at the Pyramid trailhead, which is just a no-frills dirt pullout along Upper Red Rock Loop Road. The spartan trailhead sets the mood for a quiet, remote-feeling trek with alternative peeks at some of Sedona鈥檚 most familiar land features.

The Pyramid-Scorpion Loop hike in Sedona Route circles the Pyramid rock formation.

Without signs to guide most of the way, the route is sketchy and somewhat difficult to follow where it crosses slickrock and drainages. In those head-scratcher spots, hikers can maintain their bearings by paying attention to branches placed to block false starts and by looking ahead to scope out where the obvious trail picks up. Patience and observation skills will solve the conundrums.

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Rife with tight bends and edgy drop-offs, the Pyramid leg of the loop unpacks views of Cathedral Rock, Munds Mountain, Oak Creek and the towering mound of Capitol Butte also known as Thunder Mountain.聽At the Scorpion Trail junction, the loop may be tied up by heading right and trudging just under a mile on the return leg back to the start point.

Decisionmaking begins right out of the gate where, after a few yards, the access path splits into two trails that make up the 2.2-mile Pyramid-Scorpion Loop. Either direction works, but聽taking the south Pyramid leg gets the heavy lifting out of the way early. The 1.2-mile leg traces the base of the eponymous stone edifice on an uneven, boulder-strewn single track.聽

A tight passage on the Pyramid-Scorpion Loop hike in Sedona.

But to add length and some truly majestic views, save the return segment for the end and instead keep going north on the Scorpion Trail.聽

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This 1.1-mile segment teeters on the lip of a shallow canyon beneath Schuerman Mountain with the sinuous course of Upper Red Rock Loop Road below. The trail makes a gradual ascent adding views of the Bradshaw Mountains, Airport Mesa and the Cockscomb formation. Near the top of the climb, the route connects with the Schuerman Mountain and Vista trails.聽Signs point the way to the scenic vista that teeters over a stunning red rock landscape.

The vista makes for a good turnaround point but forest maps show many ways to customize an even longer trek.

Sedona hike: Pyramid-Scorpion loop

Length: Pyramid-Scorpion loop is 2.2 miles. Pyramid-Scorpion Loop with Schuerman Mountain Vista is 6 miles round trip.

Rating:聽Moderate to difficult.

Elevation: Pyramid-Scorpion loop, 4,050-4,475 feet. The loop plus Schuerman Mountain Vista, 4,050-4,815 feet.

Getting there: Use the Pyramid trailhead. From the State Route 179/89A traffic circle in Sedona, go 4 miles west (toward Cottonwood) on SR 89A to Upper Red Rock Loop Road. Turn left and go 1.8 miles to the Chavez Ranch Road (Forest Road 216A) junction. The trailhead is on the right. There are no facilities.

Read more of Mare Czinar's hikes at http://arizonahiking.blogspot.com.

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