Hike | Brins Mesa | Sedona
Just minutes from the main drag, Brins Mesa Trail is a gem of a hike in Sedona’s Red Rock Secret Wilderness. With sweeping panoramic views of canyon walls and juniper forests, this trail will likely please hikers of all abilities as well as trail runners.
- Length: 6 miles total
- Trail Type: Out and back with extended loop options
- Elevation Gain/Loss: +951 ft.
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Kid Friendly: Yes
- Dog-Friendly: Yes
- Accessibility: Ample parking at the trailhead
- Fee/Permit: $5.00 Daily Red Rock Pass or Interagency Pass
The Jim Thompson Trailhead is the start to several different trails—the Brins Mesa trail sharing its beginning with Cibola Pass and the Jordan Trail. They are all well marked with signs and an initial basket cairn. The basket cairns do not continue on Brins Mesa; however, you won’t need them as the trail is well worn.
The first part of the hike is straightforward—mostly flat and rocky before becoming sandy. You might wonder why the hike is rated as moderate until you reach the first and only elevation gain, which is somewhat steep and like a staircase. As you ascend, look over your shoulder behind you for encouragement. The forest view continues to open up where near the top, you’ll see a flat, rock mesa off to your left. The sweeping views of red rock country are magnificent, and it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate. At this point, you’ll have only a little more of the ascent to conquer before you reach the true mesa. You’ll crest the highest point of the trail and arrive at a grassy field where another rock mesa appears on your left. It’s a fun scramble to the top and a photo-worthy spot. You’ll notice the charred remains of trees near the rock mesa—the remnants of the 2006 Brins Mesa fire, which devastated 4,000 acres in just ten days and was caused by an illegal and unattended campfire.
The trail narrows and descends slowly through the grassy area, which becomes lined with trees again. You’ll intersect Soldier Pass Trail (for more information on this hike click here) where you can create a loop back to the Jim Thompson Trailhead using this and parts of Jordan Trail and Cibola Pass Trail. The other option is to come back the way you came. If you do come back the same way, try identifying the Coffee Pot Rock, Wilson Mountain, and Chimney Rock formations.
From Phoenix: Take I-17 North to State Route 89A. Head north on SR 89A for 0.2 miles to Jordan Rd. Turn left onto Jordan Rd. and continue almost a mile to Park Ridge Dr. Turn left onto Park Ridge Dr. and continue to where the paved road ends. Continue about a half-mile off-road and over a wash until you reach the Jim Thompson Trailhead. All-wheel-drive or 4 x 4 is helpful but not necessary.
- Daily Red Rock Passes ($5) are available on site at the automated fee station. Only credit cards are accepted.
- Interagency passes are accepted as well—just leave the card on your dash.
- Bathroom facilities are available at the trailhead.
- Some shade cover exists on the trail, but make sure to pack sunscreen and/or a hat as well as enough water appropriate to the season and your needs. There is no potable water on site.
- As always, practice Leave No Trace ethics.
This blog was thoughtfully written by Jia Oak Baker. You can find her on Instagram at @violetsky29.
* Please remember to hike at your own risk. To learn more please refer to our Hiking Disclaimer.