Leaping the Devil’s Bridge

If ever you find yourself in Sedona, Arizona, the first thing I would probably suggest you do is go to Nick’s on the West Side and get breakfast. With a bloody. You’ll be needing the carbs for the hiking that presumably you came all this way out into the desert for – and getting a good measure of vodka in you first thing in the morning is absolutely most definitely necessary to help you er acclimatise to drinking at altitude. Yes that. Nick’s does both wonderfully so add it to your list. FOOD PHOTO ALERT.

On to the hiking. There’s no shortage of hiking routes in Sedona. It’s hard to find an exhaustive list of trails in a single source, but there’s definitely at least fifty, which makes choosing a couple to fit into a one-day trip all sorts of difficult. We settled on Devil’s Bridge and Cathedral Rock, for really no other reason than that they looked damn cool geologically, and wouldn’t take more than a few hours each. Here’s a quick run down of the hike to Devil’s Bridge, but I’ll tell you now that you might as well just look at the pictures.

We arrived in Sedona late last night, so the short drive from Nick’s to the Devil’s Bridge trailhead was really the first we got to see of the type of landscape that this part of the Coconino National Forest has to offer. And I’m already reasonably excited that we’re pretty much in a western.

From where we ditched the car, the first part of the trail is a dusty track through sparse forest. It’s wide and flat enough for ATVs and possibly decent SUVs – although we weren’t keen to test it with our Mazda CX-5. The scenery from here is already stunning, and we’re heading towards the good stuff.

We leave the main track and head out on the Devil’s Bridge Trail itself. The terrain underfoot gets a bit more interesting as we start heading upwards into the red rock formations. It get’s quite steep a bit further on, but generally I would say that the trail is unchallenging, even in the Arizona heat.

And the view from the top across the valley is truly awesome (in the original and proper spirit of the word). And that insane blue sky with its one tiny wisp of a cloud… Totally worth the climb.

You then kind of work your way around an outcrop of rock, dodge a few slowpokes and, just when you’re least expecting it… there it is – the Devil’s Bridge. It’s made of sandstone, it’s an arch, it’s orange. You can walk over it for thrills, but you can best appreciate it standing on the rim opposite.

Everything is going smoothly until we overhear mutterings from a couple of our fellow hikers about some “leap” that it’s supposedly possible to make from the far end of the bridge back on to the rim. I could only block out their conversation for about twelve seconds before having to inquire about this leap and from where exactly it could be leapt. Turns out it’s not a very big leap, more of a large step really – but the challenge lies in trusting your feet to land where they have to because if they don’t you’re screwed.

Alex and I both completed the leap, much to the entertainment of those looking on – some of whom seemed tempted to try it themselves, but nobody did. Later on, A woman called Monique approached me to tell me she had “the best photo” of me at my most leapy. It was indeed a great photo, making the leap look much further than it actually was, so I got her to email it to me. Thanks Monique. The photography of strangers is the best.

We also took the opportunity to get some pictures taken with some more conventional positioning, you know, to show the parents and stuff.

On the way back down, we took a wee detour off the trail to go to under the arch and the sun happened to be just in the right spot that it could be obscured completely by the span of the arch, actually allowing you to take a photo without it being ruined by glare.

We headed back to the car pretty happy with ourselves that we’d made a solid trail choice with this one. Spectacular views, varied terrain, and moderate leaping opportunities are what make a good hike, right? Hopefully our choice to hike Cathedral Rock next is equally as solid.

(UPDATE: it was)

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