The Amblers Hike to the Sugarloaf Summit
January 19, 2018
By Donna Forsythe
View from the Sugarloaf Summit. Coffee Pot Rock and its ridge are in the background. The Sugarloaf Summit trail takes you a short distance to this hilltop, which has a superb, 360-degree view of the surrounding red rock formations. Photo from Pat Capanna
Sedona has been calling my name for many years now. As a frequent visitor to Sedona, it was my dream to move to this incredibly beautiful place one day. Just recently retired, I finally turned my dream into reality and moved here only three weeks ago. One of the things that drew me here, as it does many others, was the abundance and accessibility of some of the best hiking trails anywhere. As an avid hiker, I hoped I would find a way to hike with the safety and camaraderie of a group and share the red rock beauty with new friends, who were similarly appreciative of the scenery and hiking. I’m so glad I found the Sedona Westerners.
This hiking club is extremely active and organized. There are six hiking sub-groups arranged by level of physical challenge. My first hike was with the Amblers, the “entry level” group, that meets on Thursdays for shorter, easier hiking at a leisurely pace with frequent breaks. Even though I’m an experienced hiker, the Amblers was the perfect group to test my skills and endurance before embarking on longer and more challenging hikes.
After carpooling to the trailhead, the Amblers headed out for the Sugarloaf summit and back via the Thunder Mountain, Teacup, Sugarloaf Loop, and Sugarloaf Summit trails, a total distance of about five miles. The group was very congenial and we fell into step right away. The terrain was varied, sometimes rocky, sometimes steep, sometimes flat and sandy. As we trekked along, the various views of Thunder Mountain and Chimney Rock were spectacular. Ascending to the summit of Sugarloaf was challenging and though we were breathless when we arrived, the panoramic 360-degree view was breathtaking. We lingered at the top for a little while to fully appreciate the vistas and to rest for the return trip back to the trailhead.
Though I had hiked these trails before, I saw and learned so much more by hiking with the group. One hiker pointed out the “Cats Claw” shrub, which Native Americans once ground to make a flour for baking. I also learned the names of some of the red rock formations for the first time: Coffee Pot, Teacup, the King and Three Queens, Steamboat, and the Fin.
As a newcomer to Sedona and a newbie to the hiking group, I appreciated the friendliness, the conversations on the trail, making new friends, and the opportunity to hike with the Amblers again next week!
If you are interested in joining the club, please visit the Sedona Westerners website at www.sedonawesterners.org/membership. You are invited to our next monthly meeting at 7 p.m., Thursday, February 8, at the Sedona Methodist Church, 110 Indian Cliffs Road. Sedona Westerners, written this week by Donna Forsythe, appears every Friday in the Sedona Red Rock News.