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Name: Thunder Mountain Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: Bike Difficulty: (Difficult). Lots of hike-a-bike for me going up the trail. Steep hills, lots of rocks, sections of the trail that can only be hiked (as of April 2010, the Forest Service was working on this trail to make it more bike friendly)
Time: 1 - 2 hours Region: NW Arizona
Length: 3.75 miles (loop) Elevation gain/loss/change: +471 / -471 ft / +0 ft (loop)
Type: Loop Avg Elevation: 4600 ft
Best time to go: fall, summer, spring Fees: Requires Red Rock Pass. These can be purchased at any Ranger station, kiosks, Circle K's and many other stores in Sedona or Oak Creek.
Fitness rating: Medium Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: High
Hours of Operation: Area is only open certain hours - verify before going Last updated: April, 2010
Short Description: A rocky, difficult trail in Sedona, but it is close to town
Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area. Top O Sugarloaf; Moving Forward
References / Contact Information: Coconino National Forest Trails; Great map of the Sedona area
Points of interest: Chimney Rock, Coffee Pot Rock
Special Considerations: Requires Red Rock Pass. These can be purchased at any Ranger station, kiosks, Circle K's and many other stores in Sedona or Oak Creek.Don't take bike into Wilderness Area.
How to get there: From the junction of Routes 89A and 179, take 89A west 3.2 miles to Dry Creek Road on the right. Go north .5 miles to Thunder mountain Road on the right. Go .6 miles east to the turnoff on the left for trailhead parking. The trailhead (Waypoint 001) is at the Thunder Mountain Trail parking area. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

This was probably my least favorite of the bike trails I’ve ridden in Sedona. I had a do A LOT of hike-a-bike (though the forest service is working on this trail to make it more mountain bike friendly). It’s also very close to West Sedona. That’s good news and bad news. The good news is that it’s easy to ride to from town, the bad news is that it’s close to town and you’ll see a lot of houses during your ride.

General Information and History

The trail hugs the southern end of Chimney Rock and Capitol Butte. There are a bunch of other trails in this area, including Chimney Rock, Capitol Butte and Coffeepot Rock. Caution: the northern portion of Chimney Rock is Wilderness Area and bikes are not allowed. To me, the eastern end of this trail was the best and I could see it becoming a better trail going down to Coffeepot Rock and along the Teacup and Jim Thompson trail.

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The Trail

The trail immediately heads up toward Chimney Rock. At Waypoint002, take a right, keeping on Thunder Mountain. A left here onto Chimney Rock is very steep and hits the Wilderness Area quickly where you’ll have to turn around. Keep riding (or hiking your bike) along the eastern edge of Chimney Rock until you get to Waypoint003. The Andonite trail is to the right, the Thunder Mountain trail continues straight.

On my way out, I kept on the Thunder Mountain trail and came back on the Andonite trail. At this point in time, I would suggest going on the Andonite trail, unless you’re a more advanced rider, like hiking your bike or the forest service has completed their updates to the trail. This section of the Thunder Mountain trail has lots of hike-a-bike.

But for this post, I went straight on Thunder Mountain. At Waypoint004, keep straight on Thunder Mountain. You’ll ride the next mile or so in the southern shadows of Capitol Butte passing Waypoint005, until you reach Waypoint006. This is the intersection to Andonite trail again, and where you access the Andonite trail on the way back.

Keep riding along the trail until you reach Waypoint007. This is the intersection of the Teacup, Thunder Mountain and Sugarloaf summit trails. I’ve heard the Teacup trail down into the valley below is nice, but I didn’t ride it.

From here, I turned around and went back to Waypoint006. I took a left onto the Andonite trail, and although not as pretty as Thunder Mountain, it was much more rideable. Continue straight at Waypoint008 and ride until you reach the trailhead at Waypoint009. Ride through the parking area, the continuation of the trail is to your left (south). Continue until you reach Waypoint003, then take a left back on Thunder Mountain trail and head south to the trailhead.

Have fun and be safe!

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