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Sterling Pass Trail

Difficult
 4.5 (11)

Great overlooks along the climb; take time to enjoy the views.


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Map Key

1.6

Miles

2.5

KM

Point to Point

5,922' 1,805 m

High

4,889' 1,490 m

Low

1,033' 315 m

Up

726' 221 m

Down

21%

Avg Grade (12°)

69%

Max Grade (34°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Views · Wildlife

No mechanized vehicles (including mountain bikes) in Wilderness.
Please do not disturb ruins or remove artifacts.

Description

Named for a local settler, Sterling Pass Trail leads over a high saddle from Oak Creek Canyon into nearby and equally scenic Sterling Canyon. The climb is steep right from the trailhead. The trail heads up an unnamed drainage through a mixed conifer forest dominated by huge orange-barked ponderosa pines. Dwarf canyon maples are plentiful here, too. They turn scarlet and peach in the fall, making this a great place to enjoy the most colorful of seasons.

As you ascend the steep slope you'll notice that, above the mosaic of tree limbs that form the forest ceiling, huge monoliths of deep red and buff sandstone tower toward the sky. You'll be rubbing shoulders with these giants as you slide between them at the top of the pass and begin the descent into Sterling Canyon. The best overlooks are along the climb, so be sure to take a break every now and then to enjoy them. The view from the top is somewhat obscured by trees.

Contacts

Shared By:

Condor77 77 with improvements by Adam Hedberg

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 11 votes

#5370

Overall
  4.5 from 11 votes
5 Star
55%
4 Star
36%
3 Star
9%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#136

in Arizona

#5,370

Overall
16 Views Last Month
601 Since Mar 26, 2015
Difficult

0%
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Photos

Looking up the canyon with the center pinnacle.
Sep 22, 2019 near Sedona, AZ
Standing behind the knife edge of the pinnacle looking out one side of it.
Sep 22, 2019 near Sedona, AZ

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 81 days ago See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

May 31, 2020
Janel Crandell
May 24, 2020
Wade Baird
3.4mi — 2h 01m
Feb 29, 2020
Jake Matthew
Uphill both ways, but it's a real hidden gem. Not very busy and it leads to an amazing natural arch. Great views along the way. 6mi — 3h 15m
Oct 26, 2019
Guy Dar
Sep 28, 2019
Ale Grajal
3mi
Jul 27, 2019
Kazz Fernandes
The heat of the day made it a much more difficult trail. Trail was isolated and we only encountered a single other group sitting the 6 hours to co… 7.5mi — 6h 10m
May 19, 2019
Jarred Ferguson
3h 00m
May 1, 2019
Steve Mosher
3.5mi — 5h 30m