Slim Shady and Made in the Shade Loop
Are you looking for the ideal 2-mile hike? Do you want something not too challenging but that still gets your heart pumping?
If you want to pair solitude with civilization and heart-stopping views both, head to the Slim Shady/Made in the Shade loop. This outing features many of the qualities that make Sedona hiking so unique, plus you get home in ample time for dinner — or, in my case, second breakfast.
You can reach the trailhead through multiple means. A few entrances lie off Highway 179, which takes you to the north and west side of town. You can come in the back way on Coconino trail from Yavapai vista. The main trailhead lies behind the Red Agave Adventure Resort on Canyon Circle Drive, just off Bell Rock Boulevard in the Village of Oak Creek.
There aren’t too many climbs, but there are a few steep spots that will increase your pulse and respiration rates. The trail is fairly rocky, earning it a moderate difficulty rating in our book. You’ll feel sheltered by red rock cliffs with their thin layer of iron oxide, but you’ll never get too lonely. While the trail isn’t crowded, it sees some bike traffic, plus you can hear traffic on the 89A for much of your journey.
We recommend taking Slim Shady out and Made in the Shade back. The latter trail has one hairy area where it’s tricky to get your bearings over a rocky descent. While you will find blazes to guide you, they aren’t the easiest to spot due to fading. You’re less likely to get turned around on the return trip — and if you do, you can get your bearings by looking at landmarks.
Fortunately, a post marks the junction of the two trails. Once you get on Made in the Shade, you’ll find a host of rock formations. I’m excited to return and get sunset shots overlooking Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte.
When you do get to the tricky part — you’ll know — stay high and take an aerial view. You’ll see where the path continues below, which provides a valuable clue when it comes to seeking the faded blazes. Pay attention to the rock border, too. Since most of the trails in the area lie in wilderness areas, minimal markers point the way. Watch, too, for fallen logs — trail maintenance peeps also use these to create borders, and one placed across the middle of a trail indicates that you should not take that route.
Before long, I spotted the rock formation that indicated the trail’s end was near. The Castle Rock formation also goes by the moniker “Gunsight.” You can’t see it from this angle, but it forms a divot with the adjoining formation that looks like, well, the sight of a gun. This loop offers the ideal distance to get a mild sweat going without feeling too wiped out to enjoy a hot air balloon ride or some delicious dining at one of the area’s many restaurants.
If you go: Take Highway 179 from the Sedona exit off Interstate 17. You can park in the Bell Rock Vista parking area and cross 179 to the trailhead. Conversely, park at Yavapai Vista and take Coconino Trail to the Slim Shady/Made in the Shade Trail junction.