Coconino National Forest: Bell Rock Trail

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Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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The Coconino National Forest surrounds the towns of Sedona and Flagstaff in Arizona with landscapes ranging from red rocks and deserts to pine forests. When planning our Sedona vacation, we’d come across a Mom site that listed two favorite family-friendly hikes: Devil’s Bridge and Bell Rock. We didn’t realize that both of these trails were within the National Forest boundaries, didn’t find the park’s website and just got directions at the hotel.

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After hiking to the Devil’s Bridge in the morning, we decided to try the Bell Rock Trail in the afternoon. This trail head was much easier to find than the Devil’s Bridge trail…there are signs pointing to the parking lot off the main highway in town.

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From the parking lot we took a nice walk up the wide, flat Bell Rock Pathway enjoying awesome views of Bell Rock & Courthouse Butte.  We shared the trail with cyclists and a lot of other casual hikers. There was no shade and we quickly tired from the August heat.

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After a while, we came to a bench under a shade tree. My daughter and I relaxed there with a dehydrated cyclist while my husband continued on to the Bell Rock trail to climb up the rock.

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While he was off on his rock climbing adventure, we saw a roadrunner in the path. My daughter had been hoping to see one the whole trip. Alas, he was too speedy for me to capture on ‘film.’

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Hubby saw a rattlesnake up on Bell Rock. Thankfully, it didn’t pay him any mind. At one point, we managed to get a signal and he messaged us to look up to see him waving from an elbow high in the formation.

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To see my other Sedona posts, click below:

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Location: Courthouse Vista loop off HWY 179, Sedona, AZ 86336

Designation: National Forest

Date designation declared: 7/2/1908

Date of my visit: August 23, 2014

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Coconino National Forest: Chapel of the Holy Cross

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Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a Catholic chapel built into the buttes of Sedona, Arizona.  It was inspired by the vision of Marguerite Brunswig Staude. She’d imagined a cross superimposed on the newly constructed Empire State Building in 1932 and set out to build the grand chapel of her dreams.

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After a failed attempt to build the chapel in Budapest, Staude set her sights on her home town of Sedona.  She chose a site within Coconino National forest and had to obtain a special-use permit from the Secretary of the Interior to build there.

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It took 18 months to build the chapel at a cost of $300,000. It was completed in 1956. The 11 acres on which Holy Cross sits is still owned by the US Forest service, but is managed by the local Roman Catholic Diocese.

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It’s a simple, humble structure set in a majestic backdrop. It is too small to host regular services, so it serves as a non-denominational shrine for the thousands who visit it each year.

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To see my other Sedona posts, click below:

Location: 780 Chapel Rd, Sedona, AZ 86336

Designation: National Historic Landmark

Date designated or established: October 6, 2011 (added to NRHP)

Date of my visit: August 23, 2014

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View of Snoopy Rock from the restaurant we went to for lunch after visiting Chapel of the Holy Cross. Snoopy Rock is the formation on the right in this photo (imagine Snoopy’s silhouette laying on top of the dog house)

Coconino National Forest: Devil’s Bridge

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Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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The Coconino National Forest surrounds the towns of Sedona and Flagstaff in Arizona with landscapes ranging from red rocks and deserts to pine forests. We were staying in Sedona for part of our Arizona vacation and had stumbled upon the Devil’s Bridge hike when researching things to do in the area.

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It didn’t occur to us at the time that this striking red rock terrain was actually part of a national forest, so we didn’t find the Devils Bridge webpage.  Instead, we asked at our hotel about it and they pointed us in the general direction with a map. Even with the map, we had a hard time finding the trail head at first. There is trail head parking just off Vultee Arch.

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There is an easy green trail marked on the map at the trail head. There is also a moderate blue trail and difficult red trail. The trails are not themselves marked by color. We opted for the easy trail.

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The easy trail is the dirt road just before the parking lot that the jeep tourism companies use. It is uphill, sandy, hot and dry…so ‘easy’ is a relative term. The whole 3-mile hike was a piece of cake for my husband (who runs Spartan Races) but not so much for me and my daughter.

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In three-quarters of a mile, the dirt road meets up with the path to Devils Bridge. From there, it becomes more difficult. It’s another climb of about three quarters of a mile with some steep natural stone steps and very little shade.

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There are wonderful views of the valley and surrounding mountains on the way up.

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The natural bridge is a 50-foot high sandstone arch and looks perilous as you approach it, but it’s wider than it appears as you walk out on it. Fearless people do jumping jacks for selfies in the middle of the bridge.

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I stood there long enough for a photo, fighting the urge to crawl back to safety, trying not to look down at the sheer drop on either side of me.

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To see my other Sedona posts, click below:

  • Devil’s Bridge
  • Bell Rock (coming soon)
  • Chapel of the Holy Cross (coming soon)

Location: Devil’s Bridge Trail, Sedona, AZ 86336

Designation: National Forest

Date designated or established: 7/2/1908

Date of my visit: August 23, 2014

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