Phoenix: Sterling Pass Trail to Vultee Arch

This 6.4-mile dayhike is a tour de force: You'll be rewarded with magnificent views, an isolated arch, and unusual plant life in Coconino National Forest.

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Trail Facts

  • Distance: 5.2
  • Miles from city center: 122



Location: 34.9366912841797, -111.747016906738

From highway, bear W into knee-high chaparral; stiff ascent ahead


Location: 34.9361686706543, -111.748184204102

Marked trail crosses seasonal creek; view ridge coated in piñon and juniper, and wild violets and larkspur in season


Location: 34.9337005615234, -111.758338928223

Natural cut in ridgewall frames views into the mostly wooded Sterling Canyon; redrock glows on the horizon


Location: 34.934253692627, -111.759155273438

Photo op: Stand of dwarf maples near saddle; then it?s a steep, loose, switchback descent into Sterling Canyon


Location: 34.9348564147949, -111.760375976562

Trail swings by honeycomb sandstone formations


Location: 34.9368515014648, -111.763023376465

Cross seasonal creek; look for spiny lizards scampering on the trunks of piñon and juniper


Location: 34.9378471374512, -111.766639709473

Cross dry creek again; it only runs for a short stint after a hard rain


Location: 34.9398078918457, -111.769012451172

Spur: Turn R for 30-minute hike-scramble on the Vultee Arch Trail; return to main trail and turn R. Caution: rangers recommend not crossing the arch


Location: 34.9399681091309, -111.769248962402

Carefully follow cairn across creek


Location: 34.9385566711426, -111.779930114746

Bear R @ cairn


Location: 34.9368743896484, -111.793197631836

Trail ends @ Vultee Arch trailhead; pick up shuttle or return to car