Soldier Pass and Brins Mesa are two of the most popular hiking trails found anywhere in the greater Sedona area. The two trails—which connect to one another, and may be hiked together as part of a round-trip loop—are located just a few miles north of Sedona. Given their proximity to the core of the city itself, and the ease with which the may be accessed, Soldier Pass and Brins Mesa are hiked quite heavily throughout the year. For those hikers desiring something a bit more remote and isolated, this might be a concern. However, for those visitors who want to explore a sizable, well-maintained, and well-marked trail, Soldier Pass and Brins Mesa are great introductory options.
Soldier Pass History and Background Information
As a result of their being located within the nearly 1.9 million acres of Coconino National Forest, Soldier Pass Trail and Brins Mesa Trail are both maintained under the protection of the United States Forest Service. Visitors will be able to hike each one of these trails exclusively, or, alternately, the two paths are linked and may be hiked together (during the same excursion) as part of a longer loop hike.
What’s at Soldier Pass Trail
Soldier Pass Trail is a relatively unique hiking experience for visitors to the Sedona area, as its path winds through a series of distinct settings. The trailhead is actually situated squarely in Sedona, right in the midst of the city’s developed fringe. As you hike long, though, the scenery quickly changes to the more-expected mixture of red rocks, small bushes, and trees. A particular highlight of Soldier Pass Trail is Devil’s Kitchen, a sizable sinkhole that formed near the end of the 19th Century. The entire trail can be hiked as a round-trip loop; if you do hike the whole thing, it’ll run a total of nearly 4 miles, with an elevation change of roughly 500 or so feet.
Brins Mesa Trail is a steeper outing, as the change in elevation that you’ll experience across its 6-mile, round-trip loop is approximately 1,000 feet. Throughout significant portions of Brins Mesa Trail you’ll see a wide selection of plant life, including juniper, yucca, ponderosa Pines, and more. The star attractions here, however—and the pay-off for that fairly steep climb you’ll undertake along the way—is a series of breathtaking views you’ll behold once you reach the top of Brins Mesa.
In addition to the natural beauty found along each route, another reason for the enduring popularity of both of these hiking trails is their prominent location. These trails begin very close to the actual urban part of Sedona—some segments of Soldier Pass, in particular, run through what could be considered suburban Sedona. As a result, it is very easy to access both trails, and any number of additional attractions and amenities are found nearby. Dining and lodging options are abundant in the area, and favorite local attractions like Red Rock State Park, Boynton Canyon, Bell Rock, and Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village (among many others) are located just down the road, too.
Tips for Visiting Soldier Pass
- Parking is available near the trailheads. Like all trailhead parking options in the Sedona area, though, you’ll need to purchase a day pass in order to park here. The basic day pass usually runs about $5, gives you access to trailside parking anywhere in the area (for that day), and can be purchased from an on-site vending machine (which typically accepts only credit cards).
- Significant stretches of both Soldier Pass Trail and Brins Mesa Trail offer little to no shelter or shade. As a result, at different times of the year—but particularly during the summer months—conditions along each path can get quite hot and unforgiving. It’s crucial to always hike prepared, with sufficient water and sun-protection.
- Despite the fact that Soldier Pass and Brins Mesa are relatively wide trails, especially compared to some other hiking paths in the area, motorized vehicles and/or mountain bikes are strictly prohibited along these routes. A jeep trail runs nearby so you don’t have to share your trail.
- As you hike along Soldier Pass Trail and Brins Mesa Trail, you may come across any number of ruins and/or artifacts. Per the rules and regulations of the United States Forest Service, visitors are not allowed to disturb or remove any such sites or ruins.