February 15, 2020
Length: 4.2 miles
Route Type: Out & Back
Elevation Gain: 620 ft
Dog Friendly: Yes
Restrooms at trailhead: No
HOW TO GET THERE:
To get to Solider’s Pass from any location is fairly easy. Most map/navigation apps for the phone should work. Just enter Soldier’s Pass Arches Trail as your destination the address is 280 Canyon Shadows Drive Sedona, Arizona 86336. The parking lot itself is very small and you will see most cars park on Soldier’s Pass Road as you get closer to the trailhead parking lot, outside of the neighborhood. If you park on Rim Shadows Drive and do not have the proper permit, expect to get a ticket. We saw cars with tickets when we went. We drove my Jeep Compass, which we were able to park securely on the side of the road at a slant.
This hike starts off relatively flat and then becomes a gradual incline. You immediately come across the incredible red rocks of Sedona and the beauty that Sedona holds. Early on in the trail you will see something that almost looks like a huge hole in the ground. This is called Devil’s Kitchen Sink Hole. Most sinkhole formations are caused by the collapse of caves in limestone bedrock. However, Devil’s Kitchen Sink Hole contains no limestone. About 0.5 miles past Devil’s Kitchen Sink Hole you will see The Seven Sacred Pools. After a lot of rain these pools will cascade into one another. However, when we went the pools were completely dried up. It just depends on when you go. We didn’t get a picture of the dried up pools unfortunately. I think this just means we will have to come back!
Solider’s Pass is a popular hike, mainly because of the offshoot that takes you to a beautiful cave. The turnoff from the Soldier Pass Trail is not well marked. We made the mistake and went way past the offshoot. Don’t get me wrong, the views were beautiful where we ended up, but if you are looking for the cave make sure you pay attention. If you look at the screen shot from the All Trails app you’ll see how far we were past the cave route before we realized. We basically went up and over where the cave is; and we weren’t alone. Luckily we had some cell reception to look up where we were actually trying to get to. By the time we were heading in the right direction, we had 4 or 5 others following us.
If you don’t continue on past the offshoot like us, you’ll come across a sign that says “Red Rock Secret Mtn Wilderness” this is where you will turn right to head up to the cave. The coordinates for this turn off are 34.897722, -111.787778. Solider’s Pass trail is relevantly moderate, but this is where it becomes more challenging. There is a pretty steep incline. We climbed from 4,600 ft to 4,974 ft. in about .3 miles (based off of All Trails). There is some climbing involved here. If you look at the map above you will see the steep incline in red. I would recommend if you aren’t an avid hiker to take this park slow because you could slip or lose your footing. The hardest part for me was climbing into the cave. You have to lift yourself up into the cave, with not a lot of places to put your feet. But once you get inside of the cave it is more than worth it. The cave is absolutely incredible. There is an opening at the top that looks out into Sedona that is breathtaking. You are able to walk to the end of the cave and we saw some people climb up it to get to the top of the cave. We didn’t do that. But! We did bring our favorite 4 legged hiker! He was unsure about how he’d get up, but luckily he had us to hand him over – very little effort for him.