Big Park Loop to Middle Trail

Beautiful Bell Rock in the Snow from Middle Trail, Sedona, AZ

Do you want the perfect easy hike that takes you past two of Sedona’s most famous red rock formations? You can’t go wrong with this 2-mile loop that won’t have you pulling any hills — but which will get your heart racing from the magnificent views nevertheless. 

After several days of rain with the occasional sleet, hail, and snow thrown in for good measure, the cabin fever was too much to stay indoors once the weather broke. However, I also wanted to get out while the trails were still frozen to avoid slipping and sliding.

Because precipitation occurs relatively infrequently in the desert, it takes time for the moisture to penetrate the hard-pack. As a result, water lingers near the surface, making the surfaces slicker than ice. I was hoping for as much of the frozen stuff for traction in the early morning hours. 

If you find yourself in Sedona during a snowstorm, be careful while taking pictures. The desert soil has a delicate living crust of microscopic algae, fungi, lichens, and mosses that stabilize the surface and play vital roles in the regional ecosystem. Your careless foot could kill — please stay on the trails, even when they get slick.  

You’ll notice several side trails that seem to extend for a few yards, then go nowhere. No, these aren’t “runaway mountain bike ramps,” although that’s what my partner and I like to conjecture. If you look closely, you’ll notice they all run downhill, directing floodwaters away from the intended path. 

You’ll begin your trek from the crossroads of Bell Rock Pathway and Big Park Loop soon after entering the Munds Mountain Wilderness area. On a clear day, you can knock out this loop in about 30 minutes, although it takes considerably longer in winter conditions. It’s perfect for when you want to grab a quick workout, and you can’t get turned around with all the signage. If you have more time, you have plenty of opportunities to extend your outing on some of the other many area trails. 

The path is wide and jogger-friendly if you enjoy trail running. You will cross the creek twice, but it’s typically dry. However, the right set of trekking poles can make a wintry hike like today’s less likely to send you for a spill. 

As always, these photographs are free for your personal use — but please link back. It helps us continue to grow and bring you this content. If you go: Take the Sedona 179 exit off I-17 north. Follow the 179 north through four traffic circles to the parking area just past Circle K. 

Courthouse Butte and Prickly Pear Cactus in the Snow, Sedona, AZ
Creek Crossing With Courthouse Butte in Background, Sedona, AZ
Bell Rock and Seven Apaches, Sedona, AZ
Castle Rock and Snowy Deadfall, Sedona, AZ
Coming Around the Courthouse Corner Middle Trail, Sedona, AZ
Courthouse Butte from Big Park Loop Creek Crossing, Sedona, AZ
Courthouse Corner from Middle Trail, Sedona, AZ
Field of Frozen Prickly Pear Cactus, Sedona, AZ
Get Up Close and Personal With Courthouse Butte off Middle Trail, Sedona, AZ
Runaway Bike Crossing off Middle Trail, Sedona AZ
Sneak Peak of Bell's Top Middle Trail, Sedona, AZ
Bell Rock Pathway Sign With Castle in the Background, Sedona, AZ
Start of Middle Trail Sign, Sedona, AZ
Big Park Loop Sign at Courthouse Crossing With Bell Rock View, Sedona, AZ
Big Park Loop Sign at Courthouse Crossing, Sedona, AZ
Big Park Loop Sign at Courthouse Crossing
Big Park Loop Sign With Lee Mountain in the Background, Sedona, AZ
Bell Rock from Creek Crossing in Sedona, AZ

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