“A steep and rocky route leading to some of the best views of Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona.”
— JC Condon
Views · Wildlife
Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful Pass required to park at either trailhead.
The view from the summit of Wilson Mountain provides one of the best views of Sedona and the surrounding area. Make sure to to take the trail to the north side of the mountain as it provides awesome views of Sterling Pass and Humphrey's Peak (on a clear day).
Parking at either trailhead can be difficult on a busy day. Start early and avoid the weekend if possible. A car shuttle is an option for this run, but cell service can be spotty in the canyon.
Need to Know
Snow can linger on the North Wilson Trail #123
in winter and early spring, and no matter where you go in summer expect brutal temperatures and be sure to bring plenty of water.
From the Encinoso Picnic Area Trailhead, run north out of the parking lot on the North Wilson Trail #123
and start heading uphill as the trail starts turning to the south. The trail is well-maintained and makes its way up towards the sandstone cliffs of Oak Creek among scrub oak.
As you near the cliff, the trail will bend back to the north as you climb sharply up the craggy slope. Lots of impressive rock work has been done here to stabilize the trail. When you top-out after the steepest section, you are rewarded with a sweeping view from the First Bench. Columnar basalt cliffs across the way and small glimpses of what you'll see if you continue to the top.
At the junction with the Wilson Mountain Trail #10
, head uphill to one final steep section of trail to reach the flat summit (passing a fire crew cache box). There will be a signed junction pointing left for a Sedona View and right for the Oak Creek View. Both are spectacular, though the official trail as marked on this map guides you to the Oak Creek View as an out and back. The Sedona overlook is a short (less than 1 mile round trip) excursion and you can see Vultee Arch from above. Both of these are some of the most spectacular views of Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon.
After you have had your fill of the scenery, head back to the first bench and the North Wilson Trail #123
junction. For the full adventure, head south (right) to take the Wilson Canyon Trail
to the Midgley Bridge Observation Site trailhead. If you have someone picking you up, lucky you. If you are on your own, it is suggested that you run back down via the North Wilson Trail #123
to the Encinoso Trailhead.
The Wilson Canyon Trail
winds its way down the slopes towards Sedona with great views along the way. At the bottom, you'll encounter a number of spur trails and the Wilson Canyon trail. Junctions should be well-marked leading to the trailhead, but so long as you head south and do not take the Jim Thompson Trail
, you'll get to Midgley Bridge.
History & Background
Some large fires have burned the upper slopes in recent years, but substantial trail work has been done to re-route and stabilize the trail.