4 - 5
FATMAP difficulty grade
The 10.5-mile roundtrip Wilson Mountain North Trail hike, including both the Sedona Overlook and the North Overlook options, begins at the Encinoso Picnic Area.
Parking here requires a recreation pass (either a Red Rock Pass or a Federal Interagency Pass). An alternate, and more populated route utilizes the Wilson Canyon Trail from the Midgley Bridge trailhead, but for a stunningly-gorgeous, less populated trek, Wilson Mountain North Trail is the prime choice. Fall is definitely the best season for this hike; the route provides the full palette of Sedona's autumn colors as it wends its way up the canyon.
Though long in mileage, the elevation gain of 2,200' feels relatively easy as the well-built trail ascends 3 miles.
In addition, the constant views and diversity of environments keep one engaged.
Look carefully, and you may just see a tarantula on the trail! At the top, there is a sign indicating that the Sedona Overlook trail goes left.
The 1/2-mile diversion is highly recommended for a spectacular view of Sedona nestled among red rock formations down below.
The extra mileage is flat and easy to cover. Once back at the sign, continue on for the 2-mile flat walk to the North Overlook.
As with the earlier portion of the hike, there are frequent reminders of a past wildfire.
The blackened trees are beautiful in their own way.
Like most other “mountains” in the Sedona area, there is no obvious “summit”; the entire huge flat area is labeled “Wilson Mountain”.
At the north edge of Wilson Mountain, spend some time enjoying the views of the Sterling Pass area below.
Then, find one of many lovely lunch spots and refuel before heading back. The return trip is every bit as beautiful as the hike in, as the later daylight intensifies the colors of the canyon walls in the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness.
Savor the long day of solitude as you pass the numerous hikers who chose the alternate route and who skipped the North Overlook option.