Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte were the first major rock formations we saw coming in towards Sedona, Arizona on our March 2020 hiking trip. Steve was attending an ENT conference here, so I came along to get in some hiking. I did a few solo hikes in the mornings and we also hiked together daily after his conference. The Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop was a solo hike for me.
According to the guide I used, this trail is listed as a moderate 4.2 mile trail around the base of Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. My Fit Bit tracked it at 4.0 miles. For me personally, compared to other moderate trails I hiked in the area, I would consider this an easy trail. That is, if you don’t climb Bell Rock. This trail is well marked and the path is mostly packed dirt. There was an occasional rocky area, with some mild elevation, but no drop offs or tricky areas. This trail took me 2 hours and 45 minutes. That is with taking lots of photos.
I parked in the Bell Rock Vista Parking lot and started down the trail. You will see both Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte just minutes after you start on the trail.
I followed the trail to the right and continued towards Courthouse Butte. The path was busy enough for a week day in March, but it didn’t feel crowed. Courthouse Butte was straight in front of me and Bell Rock was to my left.
I chose to go right at the Courthouse Butte Loop which would take me around and behind Courthouse Butte first and then behind Bell Rock and back to the beginning.
The trail was mostly well marked with signs and wire baskets filled with rocks, as are most trails you will hike in Sedona. I came to a ravine and this was the only time I had a hard time finding the trail. I saw someone was walking on the other side of the ravine and saw the trail marker there. Thank goodness I noticed it because I was about to start walking through the ravine. This is where the area becomes a Wilderness Area and no bikes are allowed.
After the ravine, I saw very few people. I curved around the East side of the Butte and started towards the back. Unlike walking around the front to the side it was kind of hard to tell if I was at the back side or not. I saw an unusual rock formation which I thought was pretty cool. Later on I found out it was named Muffin Rock.
Behind Courthouse Butte
I continued around the back of Courthouse Butte. I really liked the different rock formations to the right of Courthouse Butte. Rabbit Ears was one of them. I also was able to see Cathedral Rock in the distance. This area is where the path started to climb a bit, although the path continued to be an easy hike. The trail followed along the back of the butte until it came to the intersection of llama Trail and Courthouse Butte. I checked my map and thought about taking the llama Trail but decided to continue on the Courthouse Butte trail. I didn’t want to be late meeting Steve for dinner!!
Shortly after this I was behind Bell Rock and came across the Bell Rock Pathway, which I followed as it would take me around Bell Rock and back to where I started. There was a sign pointing to a path for the Bell Rock Climb but didn’t think I wanted to do that without Steve. There were considerably more people on the trail here.
There were beautiful vistas around me and Bell Rock was beautiful as I followed the Bell Rock Path around. I found myself again in front of Courthouse Butte and followed the sign to the Bell Rock Vista Trailhead and back to my car.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock. The resort was very nice. Steve’s conference was here so it was convenient to stay here. The room was comfortable with a separate bedroom and a sitting room with fireplace. The room also had a small fridge and microwave. The two restaurants were good and we enjoyed the outdoor dining. I actually ate lunch there each day. There is an outdoor area with fire pits and seating, also an outdoor games area. The staff was very courteous and knowledgeable about the area. There also is a large spa. I did treat myself to a deep tissue massage after day 3 of hiking. The gal there was great!
When planning for this trail, we used the Great Sedona Hikes Guidebook. I liked this book because it gave straight forward information, good directions, accurate description and include a map. This book was easy to follow and contains information on over 100 trails in the area. The only thing I would have liked better is if the photos were in color instead of black and white. Although, there is an icon on the page of each hike which you can scan on your phone that has great color photos of that hike.
I also used Sedona Trails Map while in Sedona. This is a sturdy map that fit nicely in my bag. Easy to follow and definitely worth having.
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