Bear Mountain

After dropping my son off to spend his one-year dating anniversary with his girlfriend in Tempe, I opted to head up to Sedona for some hiking over the weekend. I had planned to try to hike out to Devil’s Bridge and then maybe try Doe Mountain afterward. But as I drove up to the trailhead, the parking situation looked worse than Mt. Woodson on the weekend. So, I decided to pivot to one of my alternate hikes. Boynton Canyon trailhead was nearby, so I decided to see if I could find reasonable parking there. Sadly, the lot was full and the roadside parking was also packed.

Instead, I opted to hike Bear Mountain, one of the peaks on the Arizona Summer Six Pack of Peaks Challenge. Figuring since this was a harder hike than the other two, it would be less crowded. As I pulled up to the trailhead, I saw that the small lot was full, and about 8 or so cars lined the roadside. Since this is also the same parking spot for Doe Mountain, I figured I would probably be ok with the amount of trail traffic.

I grabbed my gear and crossed the road to the trailhead. The trail starts off crossing a short, flat section before beginning its first climb. I knew from the research I had done, that I was in for a short but steep hike. The trail was fairly easy to follow and whenever there was some uncertainty, painted white markers pointed the direction.

After a steeper section, I found myself on a plateau. It was here I finally got to see the actual summit. Looking back, I was rewarded with some sweeping views.

The trail continued climbing, but at a much gentler grade for a bit. In fact, there were a couple of small descents just to keep me on my toes. Off to my right, was Fay Canyon. I had hiked this several years ago with my twins during a Thanksgiving vacation. I am pretty sure I could spot the rock arch in the cliff.  I took a short rest on a log at the saddle before the final steep push to the summit. Thus far, I think I saw about 10-15 hikers on the entire trail. With my break over, I began making my way up to the summit.

After about a quarter mile of climbing, I reached the end of the trail. I enjoyed another break, as well as the views. A rock pile served as the summit marker. I could see Bear Mountain – Middle Peak off to the northwest, but I did not feel the need to add another two miles to this hike. 

Looking back up

The hike back down was mostly uneventful. One bonus was that the vistas were easier to see hiking in this direction. Even though it was now mid-afternoon, I did encounter some folks heading up. I gave them some information about what lay ahead, suggesting possible turnaround points. Soon I found myself back off the mountain and making my way across to my car. The parking lot and roadside had thinned out. If I did not have plans to meet a college friend for dinner, I might have done Doe Mountain as well. All told this hike was 4.5 miles roundtrip with about 2,000 feet of elevation gain. 

I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, Central Coast, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

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