Hiking Project Logo

A hike up Oak Creek Canyon containing multiple panoramic viewpoints.


Your Rating: Rating Rating Rating Rating Rating      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add To-Do · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

3.1

Miles

4.9

KM

Out and Back

5,903' 1,799 m

High

4,891' 1,491 m

Low

1,701' 519 m

Up

1,701' 518 m

Down

21%

Avg Grade (12°)

65%

Max Grade (33°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Views · Wildlife

No mechanized vehicles (including mountain bikes) in Wilderness. Please do not disturb ruins or remove artifacts.
Parallel parking is available along Road 89A.

Overview

The trail heads up an unnamed drainage of Oak Creek Canyon through a mixed conifer forest dominated by huge orange-barked ponderosa pines. Great overlooks along the climb; take time to enjoy the views.

Need to Know

In the afternoon, the canyon is completely exposed to the sun, so plan for heat and sun protection.

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. 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. You can continue past the end of the trail to join with the Vultee Arch Trail #22.

Flora & Fauna

Ponderosa, Maple, Oak. Deer, Javelina, Bear.

Contacts

Shared By:

Condor77 77 with improvements by Adam Hedberg

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 18 votes

#821

Overall
  4.5 from 18 votes
5 Star
56%
4 Star
39%
3 Star
6%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#45

in Arizona

#821

Overall
8 Views Last Month
962 Since Mar 26, 2015
Difficult Difficult

0%
0%
0%
6%
94%
0%

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
loading

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

All Clear 23 days ago
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Mar 13, 2024
Marie Bakhaw
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
Welcome

Join the Community

Create your FREE account today!
Already have an account? Login to close this notice.

Get Started