Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

March 15, 2013

6500 Foot Bear Mountain A Perennial Favorite for Westerners


by Curt Kommer

The weather has been a challenge for the Sedona Westerners Hiking Club this year. Intermittent storms leave behind snow and ice that can impact hiking trails for weeks, especially on North-facing slopes, and can make for slippery and unsafe travel. So when a recent Saturday dawned clear and calm, just like a bear coming out from hibernation, the "roughrider" hikers were ready! Under the leadership of Paul LeFevre and Tom Blecha, the group set off to conquer Bear Mountain, a perennial favorite.

With the striking landscape of red rock country in the background and only a trace of snow left on top of the mountain, long time Westerner Paul Sullivan gives the group "clear" direction for the decent back to the parking area.
Photo Courtesy of Gus Rousonelos

Bear Mountain dominates the Western skyline from Sedona, and at 6500 feet is the second highest landmark in the area, trailing only Wilson Mountain. Framed by Fay Canyon to the East and Red Canyon to the West, the area has been home to thousands of years of human occupation, hunting, and farming. The nearby Sinaguan ruin sites of Palatki and Honanki reflect the popularity and importance of this ancient neighborhood. A well-marked trailhead (on Road 152C) starts hikers North across a grassy plain, cut by arroyos, and almost immediately begins climbing through colorful and wind-shaped layers of sandstone. It is a 1900 foot climb to the end of the trail and a 5.5 mile round trip; a challenging route and the Westerner Hike leaders always strive to set a sustainable pace that's comfortable for everyone.

Safety and common sense are important on Bear Mountain. There are a number of false summits that can make the final destination confusing, and some sections of the trail are on slickrock and can take some attention to follow. As a result, lost hikers are a frequent occurrence in this area and there have been numerous rescues from the Bear slopes over the years. Fortunately for the Westerners, leaders LeFevre and Blecha managed to find the trail's end, which marks one of the three summits that make up the Bear Mountain massif. Hikers are rewarded here with panoramic views in all directions, in addition to a view to the West that looks directly down onto the 900 year old Palatki ruins, one of the largest cliff dwellings in the Red Rock area.

The Westerners make it a priority to hike Bear Mountain every season. It's got everything: challenging terrain, geology, history, incredible views, and a bathroom at the trailhead! A perfect day-hike. Just be careful, watch for the trail, and remember that parking at the trailhead requires a Red Rock Pass, which for a few dollars is money well spent!

The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining, visit You also may join at our monthly meetings. The next one is April 11th , 2013 7:00 PM, at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona