Hot Loop - The Most Difficult Hike in Sedona

Hot Loop is a system trail in the Coconino National Forest. Designated as Trail #94 it is marked with signs and easy to follow. Despite the name (which refers to a branding iron used cowboys) this trail does not form a loop. The south end of Hot Loop begins in the Village of Oak Creek, and the north end terminates near the top of Schnebly Hill Rd, making this the most difficult hike in Sedona using nothing but a system trail.
 View from the Hot Loop Trail
While it's not a loop, there are two things hot about this trail. One is the way you'll feel when you complete the climb to the top of Horse Mesa, and the other is the view when you get there.
There are several ways to approach the Hot Loop. First, you could hike all or part of the trail as an out-and-back hike. Hiking all of it as an out-and-back is a long 20+ miles, so you'll need to plan on taking a backpack and spending at least one night up on the rim.
More common is to hike the Hot Loop one-way, in which case you'll need a vehicle at each end. There are two places to park at the the south end of the hike. One is from a trailhead in Jacks Canyon near the Pine Flat Subdivision. The other is a trailhead in Woods Canyon off SR 179.
From the Jack's Canyon Trailhead (which has the best parking lot) a connector trail leads up and over a low saddle to join the Hot Loop just as it begins the steepest part of its 1,000 foot climb to the top of Horse Mesa.
From the Woods Canyon Trailhead you can access Hot Loop near the Red Rock District Ranger Office and Visitor Center on SR 179. At 1.25 miles, a trail sign marks the junction where Hot Loop branches off from Woods Canyon Trail, which continues up Woods Canyon.
Once the Hot Loop trail reaches the top of Horse Mesa it meanders across the broad, flat plain to a panoramic overlook of the eastern limits of the Sedona red rocks (4 miles from the trailhead). From here you can see a number of landmarks including Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, and west to Sycamore Pass. The trail continues across the mesa top to equally impressive views of Woods Canyon. The trail ascends to the top of Jacks Point and across the rim and eventually connects to the Jack's Canyon Trail.
If you parked at Jack's Canyon you could use this trail to actually make a loop and return to your vehicle. Again, this is a very long hike, so you probably want to include at least one night camping if this is your plan.
If you want to hike the full length of the Hot Loop trail continue another 4.2 miles along the rim and then down to the parking area on Schnebly Hill Rd. This option is described in the HIKE DETAILS below.


Jack's Canyon Trailhead Drive south 30 miles out of Flagstaff on US 89A to the Rt 179 intersection in Sedona. Turn left at the traffic light and drive about 7.3 miles to Jacks Canyon Road (FR 793). Follow this road about 3 miles to the trailhead.
Woods Canyon Trailhead Continue on AZ 179 about 2 miles beyond the Jacks Canyon turnoff to where the Red Rock District Ranger Offices are on the east side of Hwy. 179. The Woods Canyon Trail heads up canyon. A sign marks where the Hot Loop branches off.
Munds Wagon Trailhead Take Hwy 179 .2 miles south from the junction with Hwy 89A to the next traffic circle and turn left on Schnebly Hill Rd. The paved parking area is 1 mile on the left, just before Schnebly Hill turns into a a very rough 4x4 road.



RATED: Difficult
12.1 miles one way
2750 ft one way
6-7 hours one way
Sept - May. Hike early in the morning to avoid the summer heat.