Sterling Pass Trail

HARD 64 reviews
#30 of 166 trails in

Sterling Pass Trail is a 3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Sedona, Arizona that features a great forest setting and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and walking and is best used from April until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

3.0 miles
1804 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash




Directions from Flagstaff: Drive 22 miles south out of Flagstaff or 5.5 miles north from Sedona. The trailhead is a bit hard to see but it's on the west side of the highway, near mile marker 380. It's about a hundred yards north of the entrance to Manzanita Campground and a short distance south of Slide Rock Lodge. Parking is available some distance away, south of Manzanita Campground, on the east side of the highway.

4 days ago

Nice hike. I didn’t make it to the Arches, which is the full 3miles in, I believe. I stopped at the apex halfway, went a little down the backside (decent view 100 yards down) and returned. 45min to apex, about same back down. While it was quick, it was strenuous, but go at your own pace. Don’t let the difficulty scare you, I ran into octarians, septarians, etc... I was the youngest person on the trail (34yo).

It was a late morning hike, the sun is hot on the front side. Back side is well shaded and even green (in May).

I ran into a snake (not a rattler) mere steps off the trail. A lady I passed had spotted what she thought was a wild boar snorting around in the bush. Great views along the way, especially on the way back.

21 days ago


1 month ago

Beautiful hike but more than 3 miles... plan accordingly

1 month ago

Whoa! Incredible views but if you have vertigo.. don’t look down. Strenuous, rocky steep. Go up over the pass and down the other side where the trail is softer, switch backs to Vultee Arch. But then you go back up and over again. 6.5 mi of ass kicking gorgeous hike!

2 months ago

Back again! What what. It was the last day of a beautiful month. As I was staying strong, being away from my Dudett/companion/cuddle bug/Jungle eye Queen for way to long (a total of 16 hours) We were once REUNITED!
We once again took the blue Sub down the scenic 89A north, with a mix CD so amazing MTVs TRL Carson Daly would be jealous . As tho, we did get confused on where to park. We did fine a great spot on the side of the road right next to the trail! The woman before me stated “Giving birth was easier than hiking this trail” as a man, I have no idea what that means but she nailed it. Off the bat you start ascending towards what seems like the sky. Off the bat the switch backs come in and seem to become an never ending bout with nature. She wins. Now, having a powerful, intelligent, one with Mother Nature...daughter nature(?) dudett like I have, extremely helps with conquering this trail. I’d suggest an ample amount of water, trail mix and layers. You will go from snow trails to sunshine. Icy trails to muddy and again a elevation that seems cruel. Please remind yourself to hydrate and stay hydrated. Make it to the arch, climb the arch and have a great feeling of accomplishment...and you will have to do the entire ascend all over again back.
To the Olympic athlete/robot man who passed us twice up and down..we get it, however make USA proud with your running my friend.

3 months ago

Giving birth was easier than the elevation gain on this trail

3 months ago

It was just challenging enough for my friends and me! The weather in the winter months really help the hike. Really recommend going to the arch at the end even if it seems scary. The view was gorgeous, and the photos turned out awesome! Easy access to the trail, which was a plus!

3 months ago

Agree with all written here.. well worth the hard work. Ironically we found a plaque at Vultee commemorating the plane crash of Jerry Vultee on 1/29/38. Our hike was 1/29/18.. made the hike extra special. You will enjoy this out and back.

4 months ago

An amazing hike with amazing views that I hope to do again. I lost my car keys but met some awesome people who made a bad situation feel not as bad. It’s definitely a hike that I’ll remember forever.

4 months ago

Great hike! Went all the way to Vultee Arch. Uphill both ways but was very beautiful and well worth the climb.

5 months ago

Absolutely beautiful hike! One of my all time favorites near Sedona! I went solo and it took me 2.5 hours with a couple breaks to take pictures and eat a snack. This would definitely be difficult if you're not used to hiking or if you're out of shape; there's a lot of elevation change. But if you hike semi-regularly you should be fine. Gorgeous views and a beautiful landscape.

5 months ago

This was a beautiful hike. It is a bit longer than shown here. From the trail head to the highest point was 1.6 miles and then another 1.2 down the back to get to where the Sterling Pass and Vultee’s Arch trails meet. It is at that point where you can turn right and hike up to the arch.

Hiking up to the arch had some steep scrambling to it for a newer hiker. But nothing an experienced hiker would find too hard.

Sterling Pass itself is a moderate hike for an experienced hiker. More strenuous for someone new.

Once you reach the Sterling Pass/Vultee Arch middle, you can also keep walking on Vultee’s Arch to another trailhead where people can drive jeeps up to. That is another 1.5-1.6 miles.

6 months ago

What a hike! Short and steep! More difficult then some other moderate trails I have hiked. Also seems far for 3 miles. ( the route appears to have changed at some point)

6 months ago

Not for the ‘moderate’ hikers! This trail is long, steep and very challenging for endurance. The views are breathtaking and making it to the vista gives you quite a sense of accomplishment. We will be sore tomorrow no doubt. Worth the time, but be prepared!

8 months ago

Pros: Beautiful mountain views, great birding (thanks to hiking in a valley), lots of shade & wildflowers, and it's not heavily populated. I also loved the woodland-feel of the trail. It was just lovely. If you're from Phoenix, the initial climb up reminded us of Piestwa Peak - a nice cardio challenge with switchbacks
Cons: Minimal parking available only off side of road.
Notes: In some stretches, this trail had loose, fine dirt as the trail, high along the peak before we crested. It could be dangerous without proper hiking shoes or boots. There were a decent amount of large rocks my friend & I had to carefully maneuver over (we're both around 5'-4"). Again, proper hiking footwear will minimize any slipping or falling for shorter legs. :-) Watch your footing! Overall, we loved this trail & would hike it again.

9 months ago

Absolutely beautiful!!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Secluded trail, beautiful scenery.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Very strenuous going uphill, but beautiful the whole way! I couldn't feel my legs or butt after. Best workout ever!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Steep but great views. Not for the squeamish.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

This is NOT A LOOP. It is a strenuous 1900 foot ascent... and if you want to go out the other side, you have a tough descent down the woodsy mountain back and another 5 mile walk until you get to the road. All Trails is misleading when they say this trail is a loop.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

WOW!! I can't feel my legs or butt cheeks after this hike! Lol

I decided to take my lovely girlfriend on this beautiful hike on 4-8-17 and we kicked butt! we made it all the way to the top of the arch and soon I find out she's afraid of heights! I know! she's screaming to the top of her lungs thinking she's going to fall off the mountain and die! lol she sat on her tush and slowly made her way back down the mountain lol :)

I would recommending pacing yourself on this hike and watch where you step.

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a beautiful hike.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Awesome hike today to the Vultee Arch with great grp of gals had gorgeous weather up in Sedona

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Went about halfway due to a time constraint. Very nice secluded trail with beautiful views and a solid mix of scenery. Steep to start and the trail has several spots where you must clamber over rocks or fallen trees but very manageable.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Great hike. Challenging at times. Snow and ice on top of trail. Vultee arch was the reward at the end.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A. You will be rewarded with 5 star Views !!
B. Please be Aware this is a switch-back trail with vertical ascent of 1150 ft. In 1.4 miles !! Then after reaching the Saddle, if you continue down the other side,
your descent will feature the same parameters!!
Your reward is Vultee Arch !!
Better be in good shape because the return requires doing it all again, for a total of 5.2 miles !!
C. Giving it the "Hard" rating for good reason.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Amazing views! Steady uphill. Challenging but not too difficult for decently experienced hikers.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fantastically shaded and great fall colors!! One of my favorite trails in Sedona. Parking is limited so you need a little luck :-)

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Immediate ascent from the trail head to the top of the peak, with beautiful views. Definitely not an easy hike; I would do it again!!!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Awesome trail! It is definitely not for those who don't like heights or some rock scrambling. I did this in the winter and it was icy in spots.areas of the trail are right on a cliff face and there can be mud and flowing water in places. Very rewarding hike, very beautiful views.

Monday, March 28, 2016

like a previous hiker said, we made it to the first crest and decided that was good enough. it is a 1,000 ft climb over 1.5 miles and can give you a good cardio workout. Lots of dead trees obstructing views or interrupting the trail. the thought of dropping another 500 ft to see the arch and the climb again did not sound appealing as we were getting low on water and the obstructed views when we crested. Overall, this was a decent hike but not one that I would redo.

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