A Red Rock Wilderness Adventure Exploring Soldier Pass Trail, Soldier Arch and Cave, Devil’s Kitchen, and the Seven Sacred Pools
By Amanda Lane, Owner, The Hike Shack
The Red Rocks of Sedona offer such an amazing contrast of color. From the blue sky to the red in the rock and the vibrant colors of the Manzanita, abundant variety of cactus, and Junipers; it’s like stepping into a new world when you venture out that way. It is hard not to stop and lose yourself in a gaze at the horizon at every turn. The Sedona area offers an abundance of trails and also tends to be a little overcrowded.
I have wanted to take my niece to this area to explore the popular Soldier Pass Trail for some time. I learned a lot about how to navigate this trail without being in the crowd. This adventure includes several highlights in addition to the journey itself: The Seven Sacred Pools, Devil’s Kitchen sinkhole, Soldier Arch and Cave, and amazing views of the red rocks. The parking lot for Soldier Pass Trailhead is very tiny and fills up quickly. There is no additional parking on the roadway. The trailhead is located on Solider Pass Road in Sedona and opens at 8 a.m. We got there at 9 a.m. on a Tuesday and the lot was full so we opted to head to the Jordan Pass Trailhead parking lot only a few miles away. To get to this trailhead, take Jordan Road off Hwy 89A to the very end of Park Ridge Dr. Here we found plenty of parking as well as restrooms.
The Cibola Pass Trail on the west side of the parking lot links up with the Solider Pass Trail. This trek added just over a mile in each direction, turning our out-and-back hike into a little over a 5-mile adventure. The Cibola Trail winds through breathtaking views of the Red Rock Wilderness and joins the Jordan Trail. Go right at this intersection, and The Jordan Trail will guide you to the Devil’s Kitchen sinkhole. From here, head north on the Solider Pass Trail, and a after traveling a short distance, you will find the Seven Sacred Pools: a series of beautiful water holes holding the smallest amount of water (I am sure they’re even more amazing when the water is flowing). If you turn back here your adventure would be an easier 3+ miles.
If you want to get up to the arch, make sure you have some good footwear (I was glad we had our trekking poles). After you pass the pools, there is a wilderness sign on a tree about a mile down the trail on the right. This is where the trail splits and you can head up to the cave and arch. The rocks are slick and it gets steep, but it is a sweet little gem to go explore.
If you plan to make the trip from the Prescott area, get an early start and avoid the weekends if possible. Bring plenty of water and be willing to explore other options if your destination is overcrowded. Also, on a side note, this trail crosses in and out of the wilderness area where bikes are prohibited, so we saw fewer of them on our adventure. There are lots of trails in Sedona but if you have the chance, this has been one of my favorites. We spent most of our day here and we are both excited to go back and explore some more.
Stop by The Hike Shack at 104 N. Montezuma Street in Prescott or call 928.443.8565 or visit www.thehikeshack.com.