Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

March 21, 2014

Steamboat Rock


by Ann Urick

Heading out on a cool, overcast morning, the Mustangs looked forward to another scenic hike to a landmark red rock formation, aptly named Steamboat Rock. We started out at a leisurely pace despite our leader’s attempt to move us along. Lots of folks were just busy chatting and keeping friends up to date on their news and area happenings.

The group started out on the Jim Thompson Trail, a gently ascending trail which joins the old road Jim Thompson built in 1887, and then starts to climb, widens out and moves over to the base of Steamboat Rock. Jim Thompson was the first settler in Oak Creek, arriving at Indian Gardens in 1876. Later he made a homestead in Sedona. He built this road to link his two homes. First the road ran along at creek level, but was washed away by floods, causing him to build this road, far above the creek, in 1887.

We followed this trail as it curves around the back of Steamboat Rock and then started climbing up through prickly pear, scrambling up loose rock and heading steeply up slick rock to our first incredible viewpoint. Barbara, our leader for this hike told us it was just the first climb and we were in for more fun. It sure was nice that there were clouds overhead because it would have been more challenging under the hot sun since we were out in the open for most of the hike. At this first quick stop, we all enjoyed the incredible views of Midgley Bridge, Mitten Ridge and the Hangover Trail. We then continued climbing to another viewpoint, where we walked along the slick rock and got a really good look at Steamboat and where we would be stopping for lunch. At this point we had climbed about 600 feet in half a mile or so. We stopped to admire some other interesting rock formations and Barbara, our leader, christened them the Captain and his crew. They stand right next to the smokestack of Steamboat, just like they are in charge of the rock.

We continued climbing through more juniper and cactus until we reached a saddle on Steamboat, which afforded us stunning views of West Sedona with the beautiful rock formations and again views of Midgley bridge, Munds Mountain and Oak Creek far below us. Lunch break was on this large platform of rock, perfect for chowing down after a steep climb and taking in the beauty of our surroundings.

After a leisurely lunch, which included passing out the chocolate, compliments of our leader, we headed down and this time took a slightly different route just for fun. Since we seemed to be a bit ahead of schedule, we took a little side trip to Steamboat Tank. It was nice to see that there was a fair amount of water in the tank. Some of us went around the other side and found out that we could get some great reflections of each other. After having some fun taking pictures, we headed back to the main trailhead. The hike was about seven and a half miles, with a pretty steep climb and incredible views. I think we all agreed that it can’t get much better than that and we look forward to the next hiking adventure.

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 Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 7 pm at the Sedona Elks Club, 110 Airport Road.