Doe Mountain Trail
In the photo below a small group of hikers stand on the edge of the mesa at sunrise, looking east, waiting for a squadron of hot air balloons to fly close overhead.
In my opinion, the spectacle of hot air balloons flying over Doe Mountain at sunrise is a "magic hour" moment every visiting photographer should wake up early enough to capture... at least once.
Looking southwest from Doe Mountain, you will see Mingus Mountain on the horizon (shown below, in the distance). This is a true mountain, caused by buckling of the Earth’s crust.
Looking northwest from Doe Mountain (ahem... MESA) you will see the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau (shown below).
While the plateau was also uplifted by tectonic pressure from underneath, it did not buckle and is mostly flat on top. However, it has eroded in spectacular fashion along its southern edge, leaving buttes and mesas “stranded” off the main cliff face as it retreats northward.
Hidden in the cliffs at the top of Doe Mountain is one of the more photogenic caves in Sedona. It's also one of the most treacherous caves to reach.
WARNING: Getting into this cave requires walking a very narrow ledge (shown below). The ledge is approximately 25 ft long and only about a foot wide, and a fall from here will almost certainly be fatal. You have to come back the same way. If you don't feel confident about your ability to do it, this is probably not worth the effort to go look at it.
The cave is located at the point of Doe Mesa directly above the parking area and to the left of where the system trail reaches the summit. It's easy to get there. Just take the system trail to the top of Doe Mesa and turn left. Walk along the edge a short distance until you find an easy break in the cliffs that will allow you to drop down onto the ledge below. There is a very narrow social trail through the brush along this ledge.
FINDING THE TRAILHEAD