Hiking the Cockscomb; and the Doe Mountain Loop
On a recent cool clear Sunday afternoon, a group of us Sedona Westerners met at Posse Ground Park and commuted to the Aerie trailhead to hike the Cockscomb. It's a short drive on 89A, make a right onto Dry Creek Road and then follow the signs to Boynton Pass Road. Continue past the Fay Canyon and Doe Mountain trailheads to the Aerie Trailhead.
The Cockscomb rock formation can be easily seen from many vantage points within West Sedona. It is a three and a half mile hike, round trip, but what a beautiful three and a half miles. The Cockscomb is one of the last prominent summits that you encounter heading south out of town.
After we left the trailhead parking lot we made a sweep around the southern base of Doe Mountain. This area was rich in a variety of plant life native to Sedona and the VerdeValley. We passed through mesquite, groves of Arizona Cypress, Juniper and thick desert vegetation. The trail started gradually with an easy uphill gradient and increased in elevation until the base of the Cockscomb. There were great views in every direction. To the east across the Verde Valley plateau we saw Jerome perched on Mingus Mountain and on our left the rich colors of Doe Mountain loomed over our heads.
Upon reaching the base of Cockscomb, there was a small well-worn trail going off to the right that was marked with rock cairns. It was the trail up-about 600 feet up to be exact. We were about a mile and a half from the parking lot at this intersection. We made that right turn off the Cockscomb trail, and headed uphill for the next quarter mile to the summit. We stopped to catch our collective breaths at several intervals and took in the inspiring views behind us of Doe and Bear Mountains, and beyond. There were a series of switchbacks going up and we took our time to watch for the turns. It was a little tricky and a bit of a scramble, and using hiking sticks was highly recommended.
Once on top, the summit is wide open allowing for ample opportunity to explore. If you love to take pictures, this hike will give you plenty of subject matter; views of Sedona in the distance, and many of the iconic rock formations that make up the region. We continued across the top to the "point". This gave us some great close-up views of the cliffs and spires that form the Cockscomb. These are large eroded formations that create a very surreal landscape. We took advantage of a large flat rock expanse for a rest, picture taking and a snack break.
Afterward we retraced our steps back to the ledge that took us back down onto the steep trail we came up, and then onto the Cockscomb trail. After rejoining the Cockscomb trail, we continued back the way we came, an easy and enjoyable return hike to the Aerie trailhead parking lot.
If hikers don’t want to make the steep assent trail to the top as we did, they can continue on the Cockscomb trail. This trail takes hikers around to the north side of Doe Mountain (Doe Mountain loop) and then connects with the Aerie trail to the Aerie trailhead parking lot. It is a nice loop hike of about two and half hours and a good hike for hikers of all ages and abilities. But especially it treats everyone to magnificent red rock vistas all the way 'round.
With a little planning and care this is a most enjoyable and beautiful hike for the seasoned hiker and the novice. Wear good hiking boots, hats and take plenty of water. You are rewarded with panoramic views that represent the entire Sedona landscape.
If you are interested in joining the club, please go to our website at http://sedonawesterners.org or just come to one of our monthly meetings. The next one will be on Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 7 pm at the Sedona Elks Club, 110 Airport Road.