Twin Buttes Are A Beaut!

March 4, 2016

Patrick McNabb
By Patrick McNabb

On a sunny afternoon, the Sedona Westerners gathered for a hike to Twin Buttes Saddle. The hikers met at 2 locations (Posse Grounds and VOC outlet parking lot) and then carpooled to the Mystic Trailhead, on Chapel Road a short distance from SR 179. Our hike was led by Brad Bell & Paula Potter and the tailgaters were Bill Johnson & Cathy Lutz. They did a terrific job of setting a good pace and warning people of impending “head banger” branches and other natural obstacles.

As we started the hike, someone mentioned that rock climbers can sometimes be seen on the west rock face of Twin Buttes directly in front of us but none were to be seen today.

A beautiful day and a beautiful view of Munds Mountain with Submarine Rock below.

A portion of the hike utilized what some refer to as the “Hog” trails, a series of trails with hog or pig related names. These trails were originally created by bikers but in recent years have been incorporated into the Sedona trail system as multi-purpose trails, utilized by both hikers and bikers. Although we were alert for bikers, today the trails were surprisingly free of either bikers or other hikers.

The first mile of the trail was a bit of up & down as we skirted the western base of the Twin Buttes with nice views of Thunder Mountain to the left and Wilson Mountain straight ahead. Just short of a mile into the hike, the trail turns to the east and begins a series of switchbacks to gain some elevation. While the terrain became more challenging, alternating between slick rock and small cliffs, we were rewarded with striking vistas of the surrounding areas, including Battlement Mesa.

Upon reaching the plateau, known as Cemetery Ridge (because it overlooks the cemetery), hiker’s had to make a decision whether to do an optional hike up to the Twin Buttes Saddle (approximately 1 mile roundtrip but 400 foot elevation change) or to stay on the ridge. A few hikers decided to rest at the ridge, but the hikers who made this somewhat steep side trip were treated to spectacular views of the Sedona vista. As we towered several hundred feet over the Chapel of the Holy Cross directly below we could see to the south, Cathedral Rock, Courthouse Butte, and Bell Rock. To the north, one had breathtaking views of Wilson Mountain, Battlement Mesa, and the valley at the foot of the Munds Mountains.

Those hikers who made this side trip took advantage of this viewpoint to enjoy a snack and some great photo opportunities. After a well-deserved break, the group made their way gingerly back down to Cemetery Ridge, where hiking sticks came in handy.

From Cemetery Ridge, we made our way east along slick rock & then north around Battlement Mesa utilizing Twin Butte Trail until it junction with Hog Wash Trail on the north side of Battlement Mesa. From here we made our way back to Mystic Trail to complete the loop back to our cars.

As we made our way back on the latter part of the hike, one of our veteran hikers offered the group some sage advice. He cautioned his fellow hikers that at this stage of the hike,” the ground usually seems to sink while the rocks seem to get taller”. In other words, as one gets fatigued, it is important to watch your step. Good advice!

This latter portion of the hike also offered views of a couple of other landmarks for hikers willing to use their imagination -- Elephant Rock and a formation that some refer to as “Bill & Monica”. No one seemed to be able or willing to explain the origin of the 2nd formation’s appellation, but maybe some readers will have some ideas.

We returned to the trailhead about 3½ hours after the hike began a little more tired than when we started but, all agreed that we had seen some of Sedona’s most beautiful panoramas.

If you are interested in joining the club, visit the Sedona Westerners website or just come to one of our monthly meetings. The next one will be on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 7 pm at Saint John Vianney Parish 180 St. John Vianney Lane in Sedona.


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