3 - 4
FATMAP difficulty grade
At over 18 miles long, this loop combining Girdner, Aerie, Mescal, Outer Limits, and more is quite a lengthy route by Sedona standards.
The punchy up-and-down nature of the trail will make it feel like even more.
Indeed, even though it might look like this loop runs through one of Sedona's flatter zones, it still climbs over 1,800 vertical feet along its length. This route is also quite interesting because it combines some of Sedona's oldest trails with some of its newest.
The Girdner trail is an older route that's seen plenty of historic horse traffic, but the loop mapped here finishes on some of the Western Gateway trails, which are some of the newest singletrack trails to be built in Sedona.
As you run along the loop, an astute observer will note the older fall line sections of Girdner and will contrast them with the artfully-crafted benchcut trails with grade reversals and beautiful corners on the Outer Limits section. While Outer Limits and Western Gateway do provide a fantastic end to the loop, by far the highlight of the entire ride is a classic stretch of trail that traverses Aerie and Mescal.
Mescal, in particular, runs along a stunning slab of red rock on one of Sedona's classic domes.
You'll get to run along an incredible uplifted slickrock ledge that affords stupendous views across the region. Most of the trail segments along this run are smooth and flowy, but in true Sedona style, these long smooth sections are punctuated by abrupt rock gardens.
In this area, most of the rock gardens are relatively short-lived, and afterward, it's back to smooth singletrack.
The trails included in this loop are by and large some of the easiest trails that you can find in Sedona, but that doesn't make them "easy." Sedona will test your mettle one way or another, but even still, you'll almost assuredly finish this run smiling!