Sedona is a little piece of heaven about 30 minutes south of Flagstaff, Arizona. I passed through here a few years ago and loved it so much that I promised myself I would return. This past October, I convinced my husband to whisk me away to Sedona for a long weekend. I needed a bit of time to refresh myself and I could think of no better place. Sedona offers great hiking with phenomenally beautiful and unique scenery, great restaurants, and wonderful hotels. On a Friday morning, we left the kids with the grandparents and took a flight from John Wayne Airport in Orange County to Phoenix. The flight was quick, however, from Phoenix, it was another two hour’s drive to Sedona. Honestly, if I could fly direct to Sedona, I would be flying back and forth all the time. It was already dark when we drove into Sedona. We ended up staying in the village of Oak Creek (just 10 minutes south of Sedona) because it’s close to some hiking trails we wanted to try. We settled into our hotel, and had a very romantic Italian dinner at Cucina Rustica. They had the most beautiful patio area, the food was good, and the live music added to the lovely ambiance.
The next morning after breakfast, we decided to hike up Cathedral Rock first. We drove east on Verde Valley School Road until it turned into a dirt road. We continued on this road for about one mile until we reached a parking lot on our left. There is another starting point which is more popular (on Back O Beyond Road), but its parking lot often fills up completely. Since we were there in October, one of the peak tourist months, we didn’t want to worry about finding a parking spot. It was about a 1.5 mile hike to the base of Cathedral Rock. From the base, you hike up a steep hill to what they call saddle points between two rock towers. This is the tricky part of the hike. It was steep, and I had to be sure I had a secure footing on the way up. My hiking boots were helpful here. I had such a sense of accomplishment when I made it up. That alone was worth the work, but I was also rewarded with the most majestic views. I was truly overwhelmed with its beauty. We just stood there silently and took it all in. They say that Sedona is one of the few places on earth one can find energy vortexes, areas where energy is supposedly increased or concentrated. People believe these energy vortexes help rejuvenate one’s spirit and facilitate healing. Native Americans from the area believed that there were spots in Sedona that held spiritual powers. Cathedral Rock is one of these vortex sites. Truly, standing at the top of Cathedral Rock was enough to make anyone a believer in these vortexes.
It was lunch time when we made it back to the car, but we were too tired go to a restaurant. Instead, we bought sandwiches from a nearby supermarket and went back to the hotel to rest a bit before our second hike of the day. We chose Little Horse Trail because it’s an easy to moderate 3.4 mile round-trip trail and provides more amazing views of the red rocks of the area. It is easy to reach off main HWY 179. We wanted to hike up Chicken Point, the end point of Little Horse Trail. I was told the views from Chicken Point are gorgeous. Sadly, I was too tired from our earlier hike and we turned around mid-way. I was dreaming about a bath, happy-hour drinks somewhere, and most of all, the evening’s meal at Elote Cafe.
After getting cleaned up, we arrived at Elote Cafe only to find a line of people well out the door. I was prepared for this because it had been the same long wait the previous time I was in Sedona about year ago. We put our name down on the waiting list and prepared to wait at least an hour to be seated. Fortunately, there was a bar next to the restaurant where we had a few drinks. We returned just in time to be seated. Why all the fuss over Elote? The food is divine, that’s why. Nothing we ate was mediocre. I ordered the Carne Asada and my husband the pork cheek. It’s utterly odd, but I still think about that meal sometimes! We enjoyed our meal so much that we wanted to return the next day. Sadly, it is closed on Sundays.
We planned on one more hike for Sunday morning and decided on the lovely West Fork Trail. It’s about 10 miles north of Sedona. This hike, especially in October, is very popular. It boasts gorgeous fall colors with dramatic backdrops of terra-cotta cliffs. I thought the views were stunning. It’s an easy 6-mile trail (three going and three returning) along a canyon stream (Oak Creek). The trail crosses the stream 13 times. You have to step over stones and logs to get across, which is fun. There were beautiful rest stops along the way with majestic views and the sounds of the trickle of the creek water and hawks flying overhead. I found this trail to be very peaceful. Parking at the West Fork trail head is a bit tricky in peak tourism months. There are only a certain number of spaces in the main parking lot. If that lot is full, you’ll have to find parking on the side of HWY 89A, which can also be tricky because of the lack of adequate room to park.
We were tired, happy and starving after this hike and dreamed of a big lunch back in Sedona. We decided on a casual place called the Hideaway House. This place serves mainly Italian influenced comfort food along with salads and sandwiches. We thought the food was good, but the highlight was the breathtaking views of the red rocks from their lovely two-leveled terraces. We were so happy to have found this restaurant. We finished eating and speeded back to Phoenix to catch our evening flight back to Orange County. I still had my hiking boots on as we were checking into our flight and it was covered with that wonderful red dirt Sedona is famous for. It made me very content, and I told myself that I was going to keep that layer of red dirt on my shoes for as long as possible to remind me of our little weekend adventure in Sedona. For me, this weekend away was the most perfect way to feel renewed and re-energized. They say that Sedona has magical restorative powers, and I absolutely believe it!