What did you do for Halloween this year? My family took me up to Sedona for a hike. We got up super early to try and beat the traffic because lately it has been so congested that it takes over an hour to get to Rock Springs Café, which should be only 18 minutes away from us (we live in just south of Anthem). Should you be interested in hiking the Bear Sign Trail, we recommend you go on a week day.
You will also need a four-wheel drive vehicle as the drive to the trailhead is rough. To get there, you can go through Sedona or via Cottonwood like we did to avoid town traffic. Connect to the 89A and follow it to Dry Creek Road. Soon you will come to Forest Road #152 off Dry Creek Road, and you will see tons of parked cars along the street. We arrived early and it was still packed!
You will need a Sedona Park Pass for the day as you proceed up FR #152. Just so you know, you won’t want to hike this. It’s too far. Many people do it to the Devil’s Bridge trailhead, but that is only two miles to the trailhead. We continued to the very end of FR #152 or about 4 ½ miles. Again, you will need a high-clearance vehicle as it is very rocky and has steps to crawl over. It took us 30 minutes to go just 4 ½ miles.
Once we passed the Devil’s Bridge trail head, we were the only ones on the road. That’s the beauty of the trail we selected: it is isolated. The Bear Signs Trail is at the very end of FR #152, and there is parking for a handful of vehicles. Only one other truck was parked, so we were going to have this trail to ourselves. Awoof!
Mom selected this trail not only for the quietness but for the fall color. Unfortunately, we have remained warmer than normal and haven’t had any rain, so the fall color was lacking. I’m getting ahead of myself, though.
The Bear Sign Trail is named for the signs of bear you will see along the trail – aka – bear poop! Yes, this area is full of Kuma’s! Did you know my name is Japanese means bear? How cool is that – a trail named after me? Dad said these bears are much different: big and scary! Mom didn’t want to run into any, and I was with her.
Anyway, you actually start on the Dry Creek Trail, and it connects to the Bear Sign Trail. As I mentioned, we are very dry, so the creek was empty. Normally, it would be flowing with water that you would need to cross, thus why this trail is rated moderate. However, without the water crossings, it is fairly easy. You just have to deal with a lot of rocks, boulders, and sand. Sand can be a nuisance as you sink into it when trying to walk. Should the temperatures be hot, the sand can burn dog paws so be careful.
Today’s temps were nice: not hot but not cold. The trail is in a canyon, and it follows the creek. The first crossing comes quickly, and at the second one, you need to look for the trail sign for Bear Sign Trail and head left. You will cross the creek over and over again to follow the trail, so my advice to you is to pause each and every time you are in the creek and look for the trail before you continue. In some places, people have placed rocks to mark it, but other times, you need to actually walk up the creek a bit to find the trail on the other side. Since this trail doesn’t get a lot of traffic, it isn’t as maintained as some.
The good news is you are traveling through the canyon, so it is pretty easy to get your bearings. Unlike most Sedona hikes, you don’t get the magnificent red-rock views because you are down low. However, we were impressed by the diversity of the terrain. We started off in bushes then got into junipers and then found ourselves in a pine forest. Throughout the hike, you will have some peek-through views of rocks.
Other than the first section, the trail has a lot of shade. Some yellows were starting, but mostly the trees looked parched. No reds or oranges like mom was wanting to see. We’re not sure they will arrive this year at all, but if you go and see them, take some pictures and share!
The Bear Sign Trail goes for 3 miles to the intersection of the David Miller Trail. Here, you could go left and connect with Secret Canyon trail or continue straight through the Bear Sign Canyon where you would climb up to a viewing area. We found a spot to have our lunch here and enjoyed the sounds of nature.
The couple who had the truck were on their way out, but other than that, we didn’t see a soul. Sedona is always so crowded, so this was a nice change. After lunch, we headed back down. The trail is very gradual, so going in or out is about the same. Mom forgot her hiking pole, but she didn’t need it. If the creek was running, you would definitely want hiking poles. Make that mental note.
Both mom and dad got poked by a yucca on the trail. They said it hurt. Thankfully, I stayed clear of them, but I did slide on a rock and bump my hip. That didn’t feel great, but I wasn’t hurt. After miles of sand and rock, we were all a bit fatigued. Mom and I had a little break on the way down before we made it to the car. I was very glad we didn’t have to hike any further and could drive back down the road. Lots of folks were walking those two miles to their parked cars. I felt bad for them as they were eating our dust.
Between the drive (2 ½ hours each way) and hike (3 hours total), it was a long day. Dad lifted me up into the truck, and that is all I remember until arriving at home. I got me a big drink of water then ran around the house because there is no place like home. Woof! I love adventures, but I am always grateful for my bed, food bowl and toys. Life IS good. Hope you had a safe and Happy Halloween.
My mom, Lorraine Bossé-Smith, is kind enough to help me share my Great Adventures, big and small. My mom is a motivational speaker, corporate trainer, executive recruiter, business consultant, coach, fitness expert, and author of nine published books. More importantly, she’s the best doggy mom ever!
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Get outside! You never know what you’ll discover, and our paths just might cross. Happy tails!