Wandering the Munds Mountain Wilderness


This weekend I decided to escape to Sedona for an invigorating hike alone in the serene beauty of the red rocks.  Before leaving I jumped on AllTrails.com to pick a destination, with length and novelty being a priority.  The trail listed as "Schnebly Hill Trail to Seven Sacred Pools," coming in at a lengthy 13 miles sounded like a winner.  Because, really, who can say no to not one, not two, but SEVEN SACRED POOLS??!!  I had never been there, but luckily the AllTrails app included Google Maps coordinates so I expected to be able to navigate from point A to point B with ease. 

After deciding on this trail I continued to do a little more research because the info was pretty sketchy on AllTrails and it has given me bad info before.  Googling the trail name gave me only one real result, on trails.com (which for a lot of trails is not uncommon)... but this is a subscription site so I passed on more info and decided to be happy with a confirmatory result.  So I packed a bag, stopped for a sandwich, and headed out. 


The first hour of the drive was uneventful, but when I pulled into the Village of Oak Creek I realized that heading to Sedona on a holiday weekend was a terrible idea.  There were miles of traffic proceeding at a slow pace.  Turns out Sedona tourists are not so familiar with how roundabouts work and that really delays progress.  Less than relaxing. 

Finally, I got to Schnebly Hill Road, which is listed as requiring a high-clearance vehicle.  Not entirely sure what qualifies as high clearance, but I have a Hyundai Tucson and made it through the first mile ok.  I am told that it gets significantly worse a few miles in, though. 

After a bit of bumpy riding I arrived at the area where AllTrails says the trailhead is.  Just a little past that point is a small parking area (but, spoiler alert, this narrative is actually unhelpful for getting to Schnebly Hill Trail). 

This is not the parking area I found.  I'm no more helpful.
Upon exiting my car and orienting myself towards the trailhead I quickly saw the first obstacle... namely a 50' rock face between me and the dropped pin on the map.  Assuming there must be some way up I walked in its direction until I found tracks in the dirt that looked like a trail heading in vaguely the right direction, so I followed it.  And I kept following it.  And every now-and-then I would think "well this isn't a trail" but then I would see more tracks or a cairn and I would keep going (which is a good example of why randomly stacking rocks because it looks cool is annoying and potentially dangerous). But as I checked the map I noticed it was not getting me closer to the trailhead, unless it was leading up to the mountain wall to wrap around.  Either way, it was scenic and I was walking in a drainage ditch so retracing my steps would be easy, so I kept going.

Not the view of my path.
Long story short, I traipsed around for about 2 hours trying to figure out how to get to the trailhead, pushing through a variety of spike and scratchy things, sliding down a hillside, etc...finally I gave up and walked back to the road. 

Then, 20' away from where I started, I noticed another trail entrance.  I followed it, and FINALLY to the top of the rock face where the trail is supposed to start, according to the app.  But up here things look the same as everywhere I had been that day... vague notions of trails, but nothing that looks like a real trail.  Certainly not a 13 mile loop that is a great mountain bike trip, as AllTrails said.  But there was a great recliner rock where I relaxed a bit before finally heading out for the day.

On the way out I made a rest stop at the Hike House.  While there I looked at the maps and found Schnebly Hill Trail in a book, which made me particularly aggravated.  So I asked the employees who confirmed the trail exists and is great.  We looked at the topo map and found that AllTrails was off by MILES with its trailhead info.  I have no idea where I was or what kind of car can make it to Schnebly Hill Trail.  But I did see some great scenery and had a relaxing afternoon... minus the cuts and scratches on my legs. 

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