Postcard view worth the trek to Devil’s Bridge - East Valley Tribune: Outdoors

Postcard view worth the trek to Devil’s Bridge

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Mandy Zajac writes and edits arts, entertainment and lifestyle content for the Get Out section of the East Valley Tribune. Contact her at (480) 898-6818 or azajac@evtrib.com

Posted: Friday, June 22, 2012 4:30 pm | Updated: 10:04 am, Wed Aug 1, 2012.

Day trips from the East Valley don’t come much easier than Sedona, but once you’ve walked Uptown, window-shopped at Tlaquepaque and been jostled about on a Jeep tour, it can feel a little “been there, done that.”

That’s why I veered from the well-worn tourist path and discovered Devil’s Bridge Trail No. 120, the kind of hike with a payoff worth driving out of town for. It ends at a picture-worthy natural rock arch with long-distance views of the area’s famous red rocks.

To get there, take Highway 89A west through Sedona to Dry Creek Road, and turn north (right). After about 2 miles, take Forest Road 152 on the right, off the pavement. You’ll see, just off Dry Creek Road, a dirt parking area. Leave your car there if the gate is closed or if you’re afraid to risk the road. It’s a rough one, and even with a high-clearance vehicle, you will crawl. You do not need a Red Rocks Pass to park or hike.

Walking or driving, you’ll find Devil’s Bridge trailhead 1.3 miles up F.R. 152. It’s on the right, distinguishable by an obvious dirt parking area and signage.

The red dirt route, which is 0.8 miles long, starts wide and easy, wending through forest. The trail then heads uphill, gradually at first but steadily increasing in grade. (Its difficulty level is rated “moderate” by the Coconino National Forest.) As you climb, you gain better views of the surrounding terrain, many worth pictures on the way.

About three-quarters of a mile in, you’ll come to a rock wall with a big hollow scooped out of it; it’s near there that the trail forks. Go downhill, through the trees and brush, and you’ll look up to suddenly see Devil’s Bridge overhead. It’s worth the short walk underneath to see it from that angle.

On the uphill path, there’s a steep stone staircase up a rock wall. Make it to the top, and there’s an even more vertical scramble up some large rocks. There are no handrails in either place, but the climbs are short.

Keep an eye out for cairns, stacks of rocks marking the trail, or just ask another hiker. The trail is popular with locals and hikers in the know; you’re bound to see someone along the way.

On top, the trail leads in short order to a postcard view of the bridge and the country beyond. Carefully pick your way around the edge, and you can actually walk on the bridge, though that’s an option some will be happy to decline.

Avid hikers and active types won’t find Devil’s Bridge Trail difficult, but more sedentary folks will huff and puff a bit. Both sets will likely find it worth the effort.

Since I walked the road, the 1.4-mile roundtrip hike turned into a 4-miler for me. It took me three to three-and-a-half hours each time I hiked it, and that’s counting a leisurely break at the top to snap photos.

To get to Devil’s Bridge Trail, take I-17 north to Exit 298. Go west (left) on Arizona 179 about 15 miles to Sedona. At the “Y” intersection of AZ-179 and Highway 89A, turn west (left) onto 89A. Drive about 3 miles to the light at Dry Creek Road, and turn north (right). Go 2 miles to Forest Road 152. Turn east (right) onto F.R. 152 and park immediately in the designated parking area, or continue up the road about 1.3 miles to the Devil’s Bridge trailhead.

For the latest on road and trail information before you go, contact the Coconino National Forest’s Red Rock Ranger District at (928) 203-7500 or http://evtnow.com/336.

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