Brins Mesa Trail & Unexpected Delights in Sedona Arizona!

April 2019 – We’ve visited Sedona, Arizona, many times, not only as full-time RVers but also before we started this crazy lifestyle, back when we were living a workaday life and looking for a getaway vacation. The scenery around Sedona is absolutely stunning, and we are always thrilled by the beauty.

RV camping and hiking Brin Mesa Trail in Sedona Arizona


Sedona is an outdoor lovers paradise, and whether hiking, mountain biking or off-road Jeep/ATV riding is your thing, there are hundreds of breathtaking trails crisscrossing the Coconino National Forest all around town.

Somehow, though, in all our visits to Sedona, we’ve never done many of the “signature” hikes. So on this trip we decided to check out Brins Mesa Trail, a top rated beauty that appears in many Sedona hiking trail lists.

Hiking trail Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy sniffs the start of the Brins Mesa Trail

Twenty years ago, Sedona was a small town, but today it is not only a huge sprawling community but it plays host to gazillions of tourists all year long. April is one of the most popular months to visit, so we knew that if we wanted to have any kind of solitude on the trail, we’d have to be up at the crack of dawn.

The air was cool when we started, and we were glad we always carry light wind breakers in our truck, because the heat wave that had swept the area lately had left us so hot the night before, it never occurred to us that it might be chilly at 6:00 a.m. when we started hiking. So, we’d arrived in shorts!

Brins Mesa Trail hike in Sedona Arizona-min

What a glorious start. The air was wonderfully crisp and clear — and cool!

Brins Mesa Trail is 3.6 miles long and goes between the Brins Mesa Trailhead at the northwest end and the Jordan Road Trailhead at the southeast end.

There are three trails that originate at Jordan Road Trailhead: Brins Mesa Trail, Cibola Pass Trail and Jim Thompson Trail. Brins Mesa Trail intersects with other trails along its route, so you can hike for miles and miles if you like.

Our plan was to hike out a ways from the Jordan Road Trailhead and then turn around and hike back. We hadn’t thought much about where the turnaround point would be and we hadn’t read about the trail, so we had no idea what to expect.

Hiking Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

We hit the trail at 6:05 a.m.

Ours was the first vehicle in the parking lot, and we had Brins Mesa Trail to ourselves. To our surprise, a runner passed us almost as soon as we started, but he quickly vanished ahead of us, and the only sounds we heard after that were chirping birds.

Buddy was in heaven and he ran in happy circles around us.

Puppy hikes the Brins Mesa Trail hike in Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy waits for us partway up a series of red rock stairs

The sun began to light the sky behind the craggy red cliffs on our right, and we climbed up a series of natural red rock stairs. The scenery was lovely.

Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona hiking with puppy-min

Buddy checks in with Mark about the route.

Checking the view Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

This way.

At our feet we noticed little bouquets of flowers perched here and there as if Mother Nature had set out vases along the trail.

Yellow wildflowers Sedona Arizona-min

Wildflowers were blooming in delightful little bouquets along the trail.

White wildflowers Sedona Arizona-min

Mother Nature had taken some time to get her flower arranging just right.

A thorny cactus had a single flower on the end of one branch.

Cactus flower Sedona Arizona-min

A single cactus flower.

The trail opened up on the left side to a fabulous red rock mound that begged to be explored. We wandered around for quite some time, admiring the wide flat swoopy rocks that looked a little like dough overflowing a pan, and we poked our noses into the woods here and there too.

Suddenly, we realized we’d lost track of the trail. We conferred with each other and with Buddy about where we were and where the trail had disappeared to.

Buddy is a good listener, but when it comes to route finding, he’s top notch and we find it’s best if we do the listening!

Agave plant and puppy Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy listens well, but we listen to him too!

Navigating the Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy explains to Mark which way the route goes.

Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona with puppy-min

“Hey you guys, it’s this way”

As we backtracked to the main trail, the sun crested the distant peaks and swept across the rocks all around us, transforming them from cool shade to warm sun in an instant. Mark caught a starburst through a hole in the branch of a dead tree.

Starburst sunrise Brins Mesa Trail hike Sedona Arizona-min

A ray of golden sun.

Sunshine warmed the trail ahead of us and lit the distant peaks.

Hiking Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Sunshine warms Brins Mesa Trail

We decided we’d gone far enough, even though it was just 1.2 miles or so, and we started back down to the trailhead. We knew there were some great 360 degree views somewhere, but the day was heating up and we weren’t sure how much further we had to go to see them.

Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona hike-min


As we hiked back, we met five or six couples coming up the trail from the trailhead, and we discovered from one couple who does this hike often that if we’d gone just another quarter mile we would have seen the fabulous views. Oh well — next time (and maybe we’ll do it in the afternoon when the cliffs to the east aren’t backlit)!

When we got back to the parking lot it was around 8:00 a.m. there were only two or three parking spaces left. We were glad we’d gone early. What a lovely morning walk that was!

Views on Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min


This visit to Sedona was also the first time we’d had our off-road buggy to take us on motor vehicle-friendly trails to remote spots.

Polaris RZR in Sedona Arizona sunset-min

The sun sets in splendor after a fun day of RZR riding.

We bought the RZR and began triple-towing with it hitched behind our fifth wheel because we wanted to get further into remote areas that we couldn’t easily reach by mountain bike or with our truck. And sure enough, it took us to a hidden jewel on this trip to Sedona.

We took the RZR on a joy ride through some rather boring flat countryside and rode it to the end of a road where a sign stopped us: “No motorized vehicles beyond this point.” We noticed the trail continued, though, so we hopped out and hiked a little further on a woodsy trail.

As we turned a corner, we suddenly heard the trickle of water ahead of us, and then we found ourselves in the middle of a little desert oasis!

Reflections in the water Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy admires the colorful reflections in a surprise little watering hole.

Water reflections Sedona Arizona-min

Glassy water reflects the red rocks.

We arrived at the golden hour in the late afternoon when the red rock cliffs, blue sky and green trees were reflecting in the mirror-like water. Our jaws dropped. What a fabulous surprise!

Water reflections Sedona Arizona-min

We were astonished by this fun little discovery.

Reflections at Sediba Arizona-min


Water reflections Sedona Arizona-min


Sedona has quite a few creeks and springs, and there are beautiful hikes to reach them. We loved hiking the West Fork Trail and doing The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek hike. Both hikes led to gorgeous oases in the red rock desert.

Sedona Arizona water reflections-min


Sedona Arizona reflections in the water-min


The afternoon was downright summery with a high temp in the high 80s, and that water in front of us was just too tempting not to jump in! Mark took off his shirt and tip-toed in. “Brrrr!” He shouted as he splashed his hands in the water. “It’s COLD!”

But it didn’t take long for his legs to numb up so he could go in the rest of the way!

Swimming hole Sedona Arizona-min

“Come on in, the water’s fine!”

Swimming at Sedona Arizona-min


I finally put down my camera and joined him!

Buddy waded along the edges of the water, got a big drink, and then leapt back on the rocky shore to chase lizards.

The heat wave in the Sedona area brought fabulous stormy skies each afternoon with Arizona-monsoon-like clouds. The sunsets were just divine.

Sunset on a dirt road in Sedona Arizona-min

A classic Arizona sunset over a lonely stretch of road.

We had planned to stick around the area for two weeks or so, but the heat was getting intense and the winds began to pick, making the dust fly. So, our planned list of things to do in Sedona will probably have to be shelved until our next visit!

RV camping Sedona Arizona-min


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10 thoughts on “Brins Mesa Trail & Unexpected Delights in Sedona Arizona!

  1. Not sure if you are aware of the Alltrails app, but we use that when hiking and we never lose the trail and it gives us some good trails that you can sort by difficulty, length, etc. Although, Buddy sounds like he is a good scout too!! Thanks for the trail suggestions. We will be in Sedona next week.

    • That sounds like a helpful app, Julie. Thanks for the tip. We don’t have a cell phone or tablet, so we don’t use apps, but if we did we’d check it out! Enjoy Sedona. It’s a beautiful place, even (or especially) if you get lost!!

  2. Another wonderful pictorial story about a fantastic area; best done now, and in the late fall. But you folks do like putting around Arizona in the cooler weather, and now have your caboose, with your Putt-putt; to explore beckoning roads and trails! Looks like your train is working great, and is well worth your time and effort. Am still watching to see what your permanent train or a derivative, is going to be…..must be nice to have the RAZOR flexibility though, huh? Bikes are nice, in their own element, but these rocky roads, in the desert, are still a real challenge, even with full suspension bikes…thus, your add-on caboose, is a great addition for fully exploring an area. Love those pictures of Buddy, enjoying his life, learning from, and teaching his two human friends. Keep up your thrilling adventures, Em & M

    • We are loving the RZR but we’re no closer to figuring out our eventual setup, Bette. We spent about 6 hours the other day studying both an Arctic Fox 35-5Z and a Grand Design Solitude 373FB (both are 5th wheels) back to back, and by the next day we said, “Nope, we’ll do a DRV Fullhouse LX450 toy hauler!” LOL! It is a really tough decision and nothing jumps out as being a particularly great solution. If there were a brand of fifth wheel or toy hauler that had a reliable and rugged frame and didn’t include all the silly things we don’t want or need, it would be much easier. Then it would be just a question of fiver or toy hauler?! But given the really poor quality, shoddy workmanship and iffy customer service across the entire RV industry the choices are not great and we’re quite discouraged!! So, we also keep an eye on the real estate market…for levity!!

  3. Firstly thank you so for all you share, have learned so from yourselves! Just a few comment from another dog-lover, I walk my dog in the area and came across a rattlesnake for first time recently. Fortunately could pull her back before any harm done. A blessing in disguise as got me to researching how to prepare if a next time, and learned Benadryl can serve to buy time before getting to an emergency vet. (And homeopathic remedies can too if that modality is of interest). Happy travels!

  4. Thanks for another great coffee-time adventure! What a life you guys are living! I’m thrilled to be able to ride along once again. Maybe one day…
    Hello to Mark and Buddy.

  5. Regarding your comment about the “really poor quality, shoddy workmanship and iffy customer service across the entire RV industry the choices are not great”: I need to ask if you’ve considered a New Horizon 5th Wheel. I know VERY little about 5th wheels. We only bought our 2005 Montana last November and all I’ve done so far is clean it but these units seem to be extremely well made. If you can afford a new unit you can customize them without all the silliness you don’t want or need. Just a thought. You blog is wonderful thank you for sharing!

    • We have talked for hours with the folks at New Horizons, in part because I’ve written several big articles for Trailer Life Magazine that surveyed various fifth wheels and toy haulers on the market which put me in touch with executives at all the trailer companies. We also submitted a floor plan to them that I’d designed. Along the same vein, we’ve also visited the Space Craft factory twice, and we sat around a conference table with their leadership discussing the details of a prospective rig with the floor plan I’d designed on the table in front of us. Either company is a possibility, but both companies had doubts that our truck (which is rated to tow a 30k lb. trailer with a GCWR of 39k lbs.) could tow one of their toy haulers because they are so heavy. Going custom has its own can of worms just like building a custom house, and the cost is often north of $200k. All fivers depreciate at a rapid rate, dropping to around 50% of the purchase price after 10 years and dropping further after that. As you have seen with your Montana, the mass market trailers like Grand Design, Keystone, Riverstone, Durango, Arctic Fox, etc., can definitely be customized which is why we spent 6 hours looking at two rigs the other day. Our tape measure was busy! Older used units from companies that made good quality units prior to going out of business are also an option, so an older Excel, NuWa, Travel Supreme, Newmar, Teton Homes or Alpenlite for $15-25k can make a fabulous rolling home with a little elbow grease. We’ve seen several truly awesome older good quality fifth wheels that have been renovated. If you haven’t read my post that discusses triple towing with a fifth wheel versus towing a toy hauler, it’s here.


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