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Can You Conquer Sedona's 250-Mile Backcountry Challenge?

Sedona has long attracted outdoor enthusiasts, from casual hikers to serious backpackers, mountain bikers, and off-road aficionados. OHV trails like Broken Arrow, Schnebly Hill, and Cliff Hanger have cemented Sedona's reputation as one of the premier off-road destinations in the American West. While it's hard not to be mesmerized by Sedona's stunning red rock basin, true adventure awaits beyond the well-known trails that jeep tours zip up and down.

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Developed and released by Overland Trail Guides in 2021, the Sedona Backcountry Trail has quickly earned acclaim as one of the premier overland tracks in the American Southwest. A stock 4x4 is recommended for those ready to take on the challenge. The 250-mile track starts and ends in Sedona proper, but ventures into the highlands of Coconino National Forest. It winds west around the edges of Sycamore Canyon, snakes through the hills of the old mining town of Jerome, and then returns to Sedona's red rock country. Overlanders will be treated to spectacular views overlooking the Sedona basin and breathtaking canyon vistas at lesser-known locations like East Buzzard Point and Sycamore Point, which offers grand views of Sycamore Canyon. For those who relish early American history, the route features numerous discovery points, including old mining towns and ghost towns like Jerome and Gold King Ghost Town and Mine, as well as no fewer than three Native American heritage sites, including cliff dwellings and other rock structures built by the Sinagua people.

The author at East Buzzard Point. We didn't pass a single vehicle on the way to the viewpoint.

Developed and released by Overland Trail Guides in 2021, the Sedona Backcountry Trail has quickly earned acclaim as one of the premier overland tracks in the American Southwest. A stock 4x4 is recommended for those ready to take on the challenge. The 250-mile track starts and ends in Sedona proper, but ventures into the highlands of Coconino National Forest. It winds west around the edges of Sycamore Canyon, snakes through the hills of the old mining town of Jerome, and then returns to Sedona's red rock country.

The Tuzigoot rock structures and village housed 250 Sinagua residents at its peak. Source: Visit Arizona

The track's final leg finishes with a tour through some of Sedona's best off-roading trails. After leaving the pavement of Sedona behind, travelers will navigate the undulating terrain of Powerlines Trail, which eventually leads to Outlaw Trail and its numerous rock steps. The graded section along Sycamore Road offers some of the best views of red rock country, with a must-see stop at the Red Canyon Overlook.

The Sedona Backcountry Trail's main route concludes with an out-and-back trip up the dusty and rock-lined Dry Creek Road. However, for those willing to take on an extra challenge, the final discovery point, Chicken Point, can only be reached by taking one of the track's alternative routes, specifically the Broken Arrow Trail. Those who make it to Chicken Point will undoubtedly feel a sense of accomplishment, while enjoying spectacular 360-degree red rock views. Just keep in mind, you'll need to conquer the infamous Devil's Staircase to make it back to pavement! For the truly adventurous, Sedona's backcountry offers an unforgettable journey through some of the most beautiful and historic landscapes in the American Southwest. Whether you're seeking breathtaking vistas, historical landmarks, or the thrill of off-road exploration, the Sedona Backcountry Trail has something for everyone. 

One of our favorite trails, Outlaw Trail.

The Sedona Backcountry Trail The Sedona Backcountry Trail is a 250 mile loop that starts and begins in Sedona and features 33 discovery points along the way. A stock 4x4 with all terrain tires is recommended, and drivers should be comfortable with driving moderate trails. For the complete route guide and GPX file, please visit Overland Trail Guide's Sedona Backcountry Trail Route Guide.

A half day's drive from Sedona, Sycamore Point overlooking Sycamore Canyon never disappoints. Source: John Bean

Broken Arrow is an opational trail along the route, but a must do for those seeking more challenging trails.

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