10 things I learned about biking in Sedona

Sedona makes for a fun weekend trip. I’ve visited this small town multiple times, and during my most recent trip I went mountain biking for the first time.

The house I was crashing at was located less than a mile from the Slim Shady trail. The homeowners had a spare bike for me to use so I pumped the tires, strapped on my helmet, and rode out.

It was a bumpy, fun trail and I highly recommend it.

If you’re interested in joining the fun, here are ten things I learned about biking in Sedona.

Hope you like these options! This sign is posted on the mezcal trail, which has excellent views of Boynton Canyon and a challenging ride.
  1. My lungs are wimpy.

The elevation of Sedona is approximately 4,350 ft (1,326 m). I live full-time in a city at an elevation of about 250 ft (76 m). This elevation difference hit my lungs. I’ve never been super into cardio so really it’s my fault.

Walking or hiking in Sedona doesn’t affect my breathing capacity much but biking.. phew it’s a workout. One major pro is that the air quality in Sedona is great. I feel comfortable that I’m not taking hulking breaths of car exhaust fumes.

  1. Sedona is such a bike friendly city #SHREDONA

I saw cyclists of all ages, everyday on the roads and on the trails. Bike rental shops are everywhere too. It’s definitely an activity that’s encouraged.

There are bike lanes on the main roads (State Route 79 and 89A), where the speed limit usually ranges from 25 to 40 mph. On the side roads leading to the trails, I’ve seen signs reminding drivers that it is Arizona state law to give cyclists a minimum 3 foot clearance.

  1. There are a lot of trails to choose from

There are over 200 miles of singletrack in this little town! The abundance of trail options and world class views make Sedona a dream destination for mountain bikers. The Forest Service created a convenient list of trails bikers are allowed on. Navigate to the “Handy Trail References” in this link (click here) to see a full list of trails accessible to bikers. 

View from the Made in the Shade Trail. This connects to the Slim Shady trail. 
  1. Theres a variety of biking experiences

Besides the forest trails, road biking is a great option here. The Red Rock Loop road is about a 12-mile loop that will take you along a scenic ride by red rocks. You can ride casually on the road between Dry Creek Road and Boynton Canyon as well. There’s also a paved bike lane along the main highway from West Sedona to Village of Oak Creek that has gradual climbs and descents.

For the more adventurous cyclists, Sedona might feel monotonous. The trails I went on had short inclines and declines. Most of the trails I saw are rated beginner to intermediate. For a quick weekend trip, these trails are fun without the suffering. Of course if you want a challenge, there is the Whiteline trail.

  1. Whiteline is freaky scary

This is probably the riskiest trail in Sedona. I don’t know of anyone who has died on it but I have heard of a couple getting seriously injured. There’s a 180 degree turn at the end where you can frog splat in the red rock. The trail to Whiteline starts at the broken arrow trailhead.

Some tips I learned about the whiteline is to firstly ride with someone that has done this before. Walk the trail so you can scout the tricky spots. Avoid riding it when the ground is wet or if it is a windy day. It’s a narrow trail with a steep drop. Letting out some air from your tires for better grip on the ground.

  1. Sedona’s bike park is getting bigger

The city recognizes it’s massive biking attraction. Sedona has dedicated time and money to expanding the bike park by adding on the Skills Zone. I can’t wait to check this out. The Skills Zone is scheduled to open June 2020. You can check out the updates by clicking here.

  1. Mountain Bike Festival held each spring

Every year Sedona hosts an incredibly fun event. In early March, a Mountain Bike Festival is held for three-days in this small town. This festival has been on my bucket list for some time.

The event has social group bike rides during the day. There is also a beer garden, food trucks, and live music. They conveniently have shuttle drop off spots at multiple locations throughout the town. It really sounds like the place to be for me next March.

  1. Trails are shared

These trails are shared with hikers and equestrians. Be aware of the high foot traffic during the weekend for more popular trails, like Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. If you want the reviews of Bell Rock without the traffic, I’d recommend going across the street to the Slim Shady Trail.

The Slim Shady trail runs near the highway in certain areas, providing a great vantage point of Bell Rock located across the road.

Some off-trail areas are so tempting to ride loose on. Stop yourself! This is destructive to the sensitive environment. Mountain bikers and locals alike are passionate about the long-term sustainability of the trail system. Trail maintenance costs more than $400,000 a year for the Red Rock Country, not to mention the loads of volunteer hours involved.

For those not familiar with the Arizona environment, there is a biological soil crust that covers most of the soil. The crust helps prevent erosion and sediment sliding into Oak Creek, which makes its way into the water system (aka people’s tap water). The crust gets destroyed when someone rides through the soil and this cryptobiotic soil takes about 50 to 250 years to grow back. Be mindful and preserve it for the next outdoorsperson.

  1. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen, especially on your hands

Hope you like the heat. I visited in mid-May and the peak temperature already hit the high 90’s. That sun is relentless and my hands have wrinkled fast in the sun. Most of the time, Sedona has bearable temperatures depending on your tolerance. Snow occasionally falls in the winter and afternoon showers often pass through during the summer months. 

I grew up in the South so I’m used to the humid summer heat. Sedona has dry heat, which makes it easier for me to be outside for longer than if I were in Charleston in July. Visiting Sedona in the off summer months is preferable but it’s cool in the early mornings during the summer. Overall, Sedona is a solid weekend choice year-round.

Go out and shred the red!

Cat Cathy

Hey it's Cat Cathy here. I left my exhausting accounting job to freelance full-time. I now live a slow nomadic lifestyle where I stay on location for a month or so to write. Please feel free to reach out (IG @cattywud). I believe in living fully, maybe not everyday, cus that's too much energy, but like at the end of the day. #happyhapa

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