Doe Mountain Hike Offered 360-Degree Views of Sedona
December 29, 2023
By Terri Petrescu
From atop Doe Mountain, the Amblers Hiking Group had views in all directions – including this one with Thunder Mountain, Chimney Rock, and Courthouse Rock spread out in the distance.
The Doe Mountain hike was a perfect destination for the chilly fall morning for the Sedona Westerners Amblers. The hike climbs from the start and goes directly up the hill and we got warmed up right away. It wasn’t long before we stopped and started shedding layers - in Westerner terms a “clothing adjustment.” I had opted for fewer layers at the beginning making for a bit chillier start to the hike, so I just enjoyed the view and camaraderie as I waited for the others.
The first part of the hike has switchbacks to ease the steep climb up to the top of Doe Mountain. Our progress up was monitored by looking across to the Bear Mountain. That hike is the real challenge compared to Doe, which is saying something. But Bear isn’t for the Amblers hiking group and we were content with Doe.
As we got to the top we finally emerged into the sunshine. Everyone made it - the most difficult part of the hike was over, and it was time to enjoy the views. The top of Doe Mountain is flat like a tabletop. Our hike circumnavigated the top and from this unique vantage point we could spy other areas and trails that we hike throughout the season. We went clockwise so the first view was of Bear Mountain, Fay Canyon, and Boynton Canyon. A little further on we could see Mescal. The hikes that stay to the canyon floors like Fay and Boynton are where we sometimes find nice wildflowers or even running water, while others like Bear can get the heart pounding as you climb.
Going to the east side of Doe we could look over Thunder Mountain and see West Sedona. Climbing Thunder Mountain isn’t one for the Amblers either, but the hike around Chimney Rock - which we could also see - is in our playbook.
We finally reached the south side and Bell Rock and Cathedral were in our sights. Off to the south, we saw the smoke from prescribed burns in the area, but the top of Doe was smoke-free. The smoke gave the distant views a Smokey Mountain kind of feeling. We were happy that the smoke hadn’t settled into Sedona this time. We could also see the Sedona High School and knew that the Girdner trail system was in the foreground with Schuerman Mountain right behind that - both are areas frequented by the Amblers. We reached the Aerie and Cockscomb views a little further on. When hiking down there the Amblers frequently encounter people walking their dogs, mountain bikers, and families as those are easier trails.
With short water breaks along the way, we kept ambling on. The Amblers pace their hikes to the people hiking, allowing plenty of time to catch up with people we haven’t seen in a while. We talked about past hikes. On a previous afternoon hike up Doe Mountain I had run into a rattlesnake. It was too chilly for that this morning. There were likely many more snakes around than we could see, but that was okay – as long as they stayed hidden.
Of course, we talked about injuries and rehabilitation. Sometimes Amblers hikers are recovering from strains or even surgery, new knees, hips, or shoulders, payback for injuries from their youth or more recent adventures. The pace of the group allows them the chance to ease back into hiking again.
We welcomed a visitor from Florida who had joined the Westerners so she didn’t have to hike alone. A special member on this hike was a past president of the Westerners who was back visiting Sedona after a move out of the area. He is now a flatlander but made it up Doe Mountain just fine. We were glad to see him back.
Finally, we reached our last new views as we rounded a corner and Mingus Mountain came into view. There is a Black Mountain hike that some of us have done over there.
Back around at the view of Bear Mountain we stopped for our snack break. We talked about recent events including the balloon pilot who saw a mountain lion on Doe Mountain from his basket looking down. Though we didn’t see a mountain lion that morning, was it possible he saw us and just kept his distance?
After our break, it was all downhill from there. We climbed down what a small child had once called the “magic stairs” which are perfectly built for a small child – but can be a bit of a challenge for adults. Hike up Doe to the top and you can climb them, too. It’s well worth the effort.
On the way down we encountered mostly tourists coming up: a group of men from Alaska going up quickly and a few ladies walking up with Starbucks coffee cups in hand. We always opt for water - better to keep us hydrated. We passed families with happy kids just starting the hike. We were happy at the completion of the hike and hoped the kids just heading up would be, too.
The hike was a great way to spend a Thursday morning. Maybe you already hike with the Westerners, but if you don’t, it is a great way to get some exercise, meet new friends, and make hiking buddies. Come join us. The Sedona Westerners have scheduled hikes every week from September to May for just about every ability. The cost to join is only $30 a year, and all are welcome even short-term visitors to the region. The Westerners website, www.sedonawesterners.org, has all the hikes listed, our history, and a handy signup link. We invite you to start your adventures in the Red Rocks with us today.