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Sterling Pass/Vultee Arch Trail
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Sterling Pass/Vultee Arch Trail

 
Sterling Pass/Vultee Arch Trail

Page Type: Route

Location: Arizona, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 34.93638°N / 111.74658°W

Object Title: Sterling Pass/Vultee Arch Trail

Route Type: Hiking

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Time Required: Half a day

Difficulty: Hike

Route Quality: 
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Page By: nader

Created/Edited: May 12, 2012 / Jan 28, 2014

Object ID: 789645

Hits: 2043 

Page Score: 82.48%  - 15 Votes 

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Overview

Sterling Pass is a small opening in a long line of walls that rise to the north of Wilson Mountain near Sedona, AZ. A trail starts on Route 89A and heads west going up a steep slope to reach Sterling Pass. The trail then descends into Sterling Canyon and continues west until it ends at the Dry Creek Road Trailhead. Along the way, the trail gives you magnificent views of colorful walls in every direction. A short spur trail takes you to the nearby Vultee Arch.










Map
Map


Getting There

Route 89A Trailhead
From the intersection of Routes 89A and 179 in Sedona (The “Y”) drive roughly 6 miles north on Route 89A to near Manzanita Campground. You will not see any road signs for Sterling Pass Trail but if you look carefully, you can see a trail and a 2 foot tall sign that identifies the trail on the west side of the road. There is no official trailhead parking. You will find a small pull-off area large enough for 2-3 cars a short distance to the south of the trailhead. The GPS locations for where I parked are: 34, 56.183 N & 111, 44.795 W.

Dry Creek Road
I have not been on this road. It can be accessed from the western parts of Sedona. It is said to be a very rough dirt road. When I asked the local ranger, I was told that although some people drive their regular cars on this road, they do not recommend going on the road without 4 wheel drive.

Route Description

All distances are per my GPS.
















Place
Elevation
Distance
Route 89A TH
4850 ft
zero miles
Sterling Pass
5900 ft
1.0 miles
Vultee Arch Trail Jct
5150 ft
1.0 miles
Dry Creek Rd TH
4825 ft
1.5 miles
Total
-
3.5 miles



At the trailhead, you will see a dry waterfall. The trail goes on the south side of the dry fall and begins to go up the slope steeply.





Dry Waterfall
Dry Waterfall


You will soon find yourself surrounded by big walls. Much of the pine forest in this area has burned in the wildfires of 2006.













East of Sterling Pass
 
East of Sterling Pass
 
East of Sterling Pass
 
East of Sterling Pass
 
East of Sterling Pass
 


You might wonder how the trail could possibly climb the walls. You will, however, soon see Sterling Pass as an opening in the walls.





Sterling Pass
Sterling Pass


The trail goes on a steep slope and makes many switchbacks to reach Sterling Pass. You will continue to find yourself surrounded by big walls. Parts of Oak Creek Canyon (where Route 89A runs) will also be visible.












Walls of Wilson Mountain
Wilson Mountain
Walls of Wilson Mountain
Wilson Mountain
Oak Creek Canyon
Oak Creek Canyon
Looking North
 


West of Sterling Pass, the trail makes many switchbacks and goes down to the bottom of Sterling Canyon.






Descending on the west side of Sterling Pass
 
Descending on the west side of Sterling Pass
 


Red colored rocky formations appear on the north side of the canyon.







Red Rock
 
Red Rock
 
Red Rock
 


You will then reach the junction with the spur trail to Vultee Arch. If you pay attention, you can actually see the arch on the north side of the main trail from a spot just before (to the east) of the spur trail junction.





Vultee Arch
Vultee Arch


Continuing down the main trail at the bottom of Sterling Canyon, you will have great views of the walls of Wilson Mountain, Lost Wilson Mountain and Secret Mountain. The trail ends at the Dry Creek Road Trailhead (where you will find trailheads for Dry Creek and Bear Sign Canyon Trails).
















Secret Mountain
Secret Mountain
Looking South
 
Looking South
 
Looking South
 
Lost Wilson Mountain
Lost Wilson Mountain
Looking South
 


Essential Gear

Hiking equipment.

Weather

See the forecast for the town of Sedona, AZ.

Red Tape

You will need a Red Rock Parking Pass. See the link below:

http://www.redrockcountry.org/passes-and-permits/where-to-purchase.shtml

External Link

http://www.greatsedonahikes.com/sterlingvultee/sterlingvultee.html.

Images