The Amblers Take on Doe Mountain
January 13, 2023
By Lisa Critchlow
The climb up to the top of Doe Mountain can be taxing, but the views from the mesa are always amazing. Here is a view back towards Sedona.
Sedona has some beautiful places to hike, and Doe Mountain ranks right up there with some of the best vistas in the area.
The Sedona Westerners hiking club (Amblers group) did their usual sign-in / carpool meetup, and from there proceeded to the Doe Mountain parking lot and trailhead off Boynton Pass Road.
As the hikers started their trek up the north side of Doe Mountain, our hike leaders Terri and Jon Petrescu shared a cute story about a family they encountered on the trail during the scouting outing in preparation for the actual hike. The kids in the family were especially excited about what they called “The Magic Staircase,” leaving those of us who had not done the trail before wondering just what “The Magic Staircase” was, and what wondrous special powers we might find there. We were soon to find out!
Doe Mountain trail is pretty much straight up the side of the mountain, via rock steps and some switchbacks. You feel like you are gaining elevation rapidly, and we paused several times along the climb trail to look back and appreciate how far we’d come. The ascent is a fairly steep one (at least by my standards) with an elevation gain of approximately 500 ft. There are some areas where it was necessary to hold on to other rocks to make your way up the mountainside – a minor “rock scramble”. The hike leaders were excellent at explaining and employing “hiking best practices” when minor assistance was required, i.e., the proper way to hold a person’s wrist when helping them ascend a rock.
We experienced “The Magic Staircase” just before the trail ascent ended. The Magic Staircase turned out to be a short section of rocks stacked like steps, that went through a narrow chute, before emerging onto a rock ledge which in turn led to a large, flat, and open area (the top of the mesa). I concluded that the special powers are the hikers’ own strength and spirit leading to a successful climb to the top.
The top of the mesa is a special feature of the hike and quite unlike other trails in its size and flatness. It is the reward for the climb. Simply put, there were incredible 360-degree views and many oohs and aahs as we hiked along the rim before making our way back down. Before we left the top, we stopped for a snack break on the flat rocks at the top of the trail. The break was memorable not only for the views, but because our hike leader, Terri, brought a delicious homemade pumpkin bread which she shared with all of us. The pumpkins and applesauce (used for sweetening) were grown in Terri’s own garden. So, we had not only red rocks, but green thumbs and an excellent baker at work making the hike so pleasurable.
A few folks were on their first hike with the Westerners, and in talking to them afterwards, it was gratifying to hear that their experiences were positive. One hiker said that “the most memorable moment was on the mesa looking panoramically across the red rocks…it was just spectacular…a perfect day for a hike, sunshine and cool temperatures”. Another hiker new to the Westerners mentioned their appreciation for “how cohesive the group seemed – friendly, non-competitive, helpful to each other, and the professional leaders set a nice steady pace that all added up to an enjoyable experience.”
On most Sedona Westerner hikes, along with jaw-dropping beauty there is usually a botany lesson or two, a few hiking tips, a little history story, and sometimes good works.
- The botany I learned on this hike is that when trees grow in a spiral, the twist is clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
- The hiking tip of the day was when the Amblers boss asked how many folks had Osprey backpacks and do we know that some of the models have a built-in whistle on the chest strap buckle?
- Viewable from the hike was where Boynton Pass Rd. changes from paved to dirt. This led to information about the history of why the road was paved to begin with (about 15 years ago to accommodate housing development) and what used to be in the area before development (a Christmas tree farm).
- The good works were evident when a couple of specially trained veteran Westerners, who knew what they were doing, took the time to document and clean some unsightly graffiti from the rocks on the top of the mesa…kudos to them and how wonderful when the day comes when this is never necessary.
On a positive note - above all, the hike on Doe Mountain trail provided an opportunity for a whole lot of connections with nature and with other people who share a love of the outdoors. Rich rewards indeed!
The Sedona Westerners always welcome new members, and we have hikes multiple days of the week for all abilities. If you are interested in joining the club, please visit our website at sedonawesterners.org. You will find an interesting history, the whole season’s list of planned hikes, and a handy membership link. It only takes five minutes to sign and start your new adventures here in the Red Rocks.