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  • Lisa Parsons

Take the HiLine

Updated: Dec 23, 2018

Hiline Trail loop —

  • Kaibab

  • Slim Shady

  • Hiline

  • Baldwin

  • Templeton

  • Hermit

7.4 miles

Yavapai TH

You’ll need a Red Rock recreation pass.

Panorama valley view from the Hiline trail

Mt. Biking in Sedona

At the trailhead, as we unload our bikes, we look towards a towering Cathedral Rock and the deep green pines all around us. That is the mesa we’ll ride on. I’m not sure if we are going to the top but looking at it I could see a trail at the base of the sandstone steep sandstone cliffs where the rock skirt fans out below.

Cathedral Rock Mesa

From the parking lot we and our Belgian Malinois, Mica, immediately started climbing up Kaibab trail and then turned on to Slim Shady. The dirt is soft with sandstone steps and rocks that are all navigable. Mica is running up ahead of us with a nose that is looking for small critters. She is so light on her feet and her enthusiasm for running just shudders through her muscular body.

We turn off onto the Hiline trail. It doesn’t seem that hard. Hiline is rated one of the hardest trails in Sedona. We start climbing a little more steeply and as we climb the exposure increases. But after two times your height it is all pretty much deadly anyway. I focus on the line I want to take and not on the cliffs to my right. A few sections are just too chunky or off camber to ride. So I walk them. I’m here for the epic views not broken bones.

As we climb higher the valley lays out below us. The views are amazing. Red Rock Mesas across the valley that span out along the Sedona corridor. The trail snakes along the edge of the mesa between cliff and pinon pines. It’s cool in the shade of the mesa but warmer than we’ve experienced in the past few weeks so we start shedding layers.

It isn't until we round a section of trail that overlooks the next valley that we start to see what everyone is referring to as double black diamonds. The trail now drops down the other side in tight switch backs. Its rockier with steeper sandstone slopes down narrower shoots. The sandstone slopes end at drops of rocky stairs and lose rocks. Quite the landing. Ball barings at the end of a slide. I ride the first steep sandstone drop down a funnel. When we arrive at the rock climbing section of near vertical slick rock and loose landings I decide it is time to hike. The steep section of sandstone drops into rocky ledge after ledge. The sand on the sandstone makes it even more slippery. Even walking on it is hard.

We ride everything we can and portage the rest. At the bottom we come to Oak Creek. It is a complete contrast to the dry sandstone shelves we’ve been riding on. Winter trees and dead grasses line the shoreline. The quick current echos against the sandstone rocks. We pass two hikers sitting by the creek as we side hill along the shoreline and as creeks tend to be it is rocky up and downs with a few tree roots thrown in at the wrong places.

We run into a man we met at our camp earlier in the day. He is riding solo from the other direction. He says that there is some steep short uphill ahead before it levels out across the sandstone. We convey that there is a longer steep section that scrambles up the side of the mesa. Tourists trading information.

After we climb up the short steep hike-a-bike section along a drainage we finally top out and from there it is fast dirt and slick rock ledge riding past the Cathedral Rock trail turn off. As we pass the trail to Cathedral rock there are more hikers coming the short distance from the Cathedral Rock Trailhead parking lot.

Our trail winds gently upward undulating through washes and dips in the sandstone until we find our way back at Yavapai trailhead. Mica is panting and we can tell that we’ve tired the dog out, which, of course, is the whole point in riding, right?

Mica working hard on the trail

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