Despite being in the middle of town, Twin Buttes is one of the lesser known summits in Sedona. Completely trail-less and unnamed on many maps, Twin Buttes serves as the striking backdrop for Chapel of the Holy Cross with dramatic red rock cliffs to the south… yet rarely sees visitors. The two summits offer challenging but nontechnical climbing to bag the two seldom visited peaks.
To access the nontechnical routes on Twin Buttes, get to the Broken Arrow trail off Highway 179. From the junction of 89A and 179 in Sedona, take the roundabout onto 179. Follow this through three traffic circles 1.4 miles south and take the exit onto Morgan Rd. Follow Morgan Rd. 0.6 miles until it turns to dirt and park at the large parking lot to the left. The right branch quickly turns to a 4WD road that is very popular with Pink Jeep Tours.
Turn off at the saddle.
Approach: From the Broken Arrow Trailhead hike south over the road to a junction with the Hog Wash Trail. Continue along the Broken Arrow Trail to a second junction with the Twin Buttes trail and bear right. The Twin Buttes trail heads fairly directly south, cheating slightly east to avoid some steep sandstone slabs. This trail eventually intersects the Hog Heaven trail. Hike west on the Hog Heaven Trail to the saddle between Twin Buttes and Battlement Mesa.
Alternatively, for an interesting variation to reach this saddle, you can leave the Twin Buttes Trail at the first major drainage to the west and hike up to the summit of Battlement Mesa, an interesting little class 3 summit with a good view of the routes up Twin Buttes. From there you can follow a faint use trail to the same saddle between the mesa and Twin Buttes.
Once at the saddle, there is an unmarked but fairly obvious use trail. The trail winds up the north slopes of the West Butte, and ultimately brings you to the saddle between the East and West summit, looking down on Chapel of the Holy Cross.
Looking down the crux.
West Butte: The West Butte is several hundred feet shorter than the East Butte, but offers much cleaner climbing. Start up low angled sandstone slabs from the saddle which steadily increase in grade. Early on you'll need to cheat on to some ledges on the south faces, but for the most part climb the ridge proper. The last 10-15' of the scramble is by far the most difficult and is very exposed, near vertical class 3. But the holds are excellent, and just past the crux, the route switches to easy class 2 to the broad summit.
East Butte Summit.
East Butte: The route on the higher, East summit is unfortunately messier. The crux is getting above the cliffs above the saddle. A short traverse along the north slopes of the saddle bypass a small rock fin and get you to the base of the ridge. Continue contouring beneath the cliffs until you reach a steep and loose chimney. A bit of stemming gets you over a small chokestone and above the cliffs. A sloped catwalk and a loose, anxiety provoking traverse gets you back to the ridge proper. From there it's a scrappy bushwack the remaining distance to the summit, utilizing game trails where possible.
A $5 Red Rocks Pass is required to park at the Broken Arrow Trailhead. The Federal America the Beautiful Pass also works and is a bargain at $80/ year for all federal lands.
Can be climbed year-round. Spring and Fall are best. Early starts in summer are advised to beat the heat and afternoon monsoons. Winter can bring small patches of ice on the north facing slopes.
Camping can be found at USFS campgrounds along Oak Creek. At large camping on the forest roads south of town towards Cottonwood.