Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

January 31, 2014

Morning Glory Vista


by Tom Makielski

It may only be a little over 4 miles but what a 4 miles! If you are looking for a ‘short’, occasionally intense off-the-beaten-track hike in your backyard with continuous glorious views and intimate proximity to the red rocks, this is it! It’s the Sedona Westerners’ Morning Glory Vistas hike.

The views are equal to the best in the Sedona area and there are lots of them on this hike. This hike is easily accessible to many of us. It’s behind Uptown (Jordan TH). It’s behind West Sedona (Soldiers Pass TH, the one we used). It’s across the Pass from our famous Coffee Pot Rock and in the eastern shadow of Thunder Mountain.

We started at the Soldiers Pass trailhead and headed over to the Cibola Trail which we climbed to its Height of Land at the saddle before it drops down to the Jordan trailhead. This is where the old barbed wire fence separated the ol’ free range cattle stock. The hike proceeds due north up along the fence line. However, there is a glorious slick rock overview due south from this point that is worth the extra few hundred yards out and back. At the risk of giving away a family secret, my wife and I have spent many early evenings watching the sun and shadows climb up The Fin with a bottle of wine here. The views and vistas only begin here and get ever better!

As you head north, you cross over ramps of slick rock connected by a rising, vague and somewhat mysterious old trail. This seldom hiked trail slowly dissipates to barely perceptible separations in the vegetation as you climb eventually to the backside of what is popularly now known as The Sphinx, formerly known as Morning Glory Rock (or Spire) by the Sedona old timers.

On the way up to The Sphinx, this old trail wraps snugly around the towering and majestic Cibola Mitten and then across the connecting saddle to The Sphinx. Before we reached this thin elongated spire, we mount a magnificent promontory near its top for our lunch, a highlight of all Westerners’ hikes and usually at one of the very best hike views. This one does not disappoint.

After lunch we climb just a little further and into the shadow of The Sphinx before we descend. At this point, one can climb with a short pull up on a couple of handholds on to The Sphinx’s back but we continue down tight to its flank. From here, for the next twenty minutes, is the crux of this hike. However, to make this particular hike epic, two days prior, we had a mini snow dump. It had not completely melted off the already challenging and sloping rock down the backside of The Sphinx. While proceeding on in the snow, there were more than a few spontaneous and intentional Slip-n-Slides on the large snow covered rocks and slabs. As usual, the experienced hikers made it down unscathed to even more sunny slick rock along a seldom visited wash. The hike finished out with a beautiful and serene stroll down the middle of Soldiers Wash past the melting ice in the Seven Sacred Pools and back to the trailhead.

I had described the hike earlier as ‘short’ but with the long pauses taken to gaze and breaks to soak in the glorious vistas, it seemed much much longer than the 4 miles and all this in our backyards, too! We are very fortunate, indeed… ain’t Sedona a glorious place to live!?!?

If you are interested in joining the club, please go to our website at or just come to one of our monthly meetings. The next one will be on Thursday, Feb 13, 2014 at 7 pm at the Sedona Elks Club, 110 Airport Road.