Sedona Mystic and Hog Trail System Provides A Unique Experience For Hikers and Bikers

Contributed by Gateway To Sedona on . Posted in Sedona Red Rocks and Hiking Trails

View from the Sedona Mystic and Hog trail system just off the Sedona Red Rock Scenic Byway.View from the Sedona Mystic and Hog trail system just off the Sedona Red Rock Scenic Byway.

Most people know that Sedona, Arizona and the surrounding areas offer a hikers paradise, with trails accessible just blocks away from most locations.  It is common for residents and tourists alike to walk out of the back door of their home or hotel room and be hiking forest service trails within minutes. Some of the most scenic and interesting trails are found along the Red Rock Scenic Byway, also known as Highway 179, between the Village of Oak Creek and the City of Sedona. The trail system gives hikers and bikers access to the Munds Mountain Wilderness, and the trail system surrounding Elephant Rock, Bell Rock, and Courthouse Butte. Endless miles of scenic trails are interconnected to give hikers multiple alternatives for hiking experiences, from trails that are easy and short to trails that are difficult and long.

Tucked away and wrapping around the base of elegant Elephant Rock is a scenic group of winding trails that open up the beautiful red rock wilderness to hikers and bikers alike. The Mystic and Hog Trail system offers stunning views of the red rocks through the twisting junipers and pinions, while at the same time giving the hiker a feeling of solitude and peace, and an escape from the hoard of tourists that invade Sedona every day of the week. The trail system is never further away than a half-mile from the Red Rock Scenic Byway, but the road is rarely visible from the trails, and the heavily wooded landscape offers an effective natural buffer to traffic noise.

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Although there are many different alternative paths to choose from in this trail system, a relatively easy and exceptionally scenic hiking option is the Mystic-Hog Trail System loop. The trail can be easily accessed at numerous locations, but the most obvious trailhead is accessed from Chapel Road, off of Highway 179 (The Red Rock Scenic Byway).  From the junction of SR 89A and SR 179 in Sedona, take SR 179 south 3 miles to Chapel Road. The trailhead is located on the left side of Chapel Road at its intersection with Antelope Drive.

Beginning at the trailhead, head in a northerly direction on the Mystic Trail, and after about one-quarter mile, come to the trail junction with the Pig Tail Trail.  At this junction, you will find a very informative and detailed trail map of showing the extensive network of trails.  Go west onto the Pig Tail/Hog Wash Trail, and follow it for one-quarter mile. At that point, there’s another trail junction. You’ll want to veer left and continue on the Hog Wash/Hog Heaven Trail for two-tenths of a mile, then veer left to stay on the Hog Wash Trail for about six tenths of a mile.  At that point you’ll see the trail junction with the Peccary Trail.  Turn left onto the Peccary Trail and hike one-half mile to the Mystic Trail. Head south on the Mystic trail, and follow it all the way back to the Trailhead at Chapel Road.  

The entire loop is approximately three miles and should take anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours to complete, depending on the pace of your hike.  I would rate the trail as easy to moderate, since it does not have much elevation gain or loss. All of the trails in this area are very well marked and well maintained, and the numerous signs along the trails are excellent and easy to understand.  The only caution for hikers is to be alert for mountain bikers on the trails since this is a very popular trail system for the bike riders.  The signs along the trail indicate which trails are one way, and principally intended for use by the mountain biking community. Hikers should avoid these trails for safety reasons.

After hiking the trails in this area, hikers may enjoy a visit to Poco Diablo Resort, about one-half mile north of the Mystic Trail head on the Red Rock Scenic Byway (SR 179).  The resort has an excellent restaurant, and is a great place to stop for lunch or a beverage after your hike.

The Mystic/Hog Trail system connects with a much larger group of trails that lead to Sedona landmarks such as Submarine Rock and Chicken Point, and popular trails such as the Margs Draw and the Huckaby trails. As you hike further to the northeast beyond the Mystic Trail, you will enter the Morgan Road network of trailheads, and will very likely run into some of the tour jeeps that take Sedona visitors off-road into the wilderness areas.

Other longer and more challenging loop hikes can be stitched together to provide incredible vistas of the Sedona area. Connections from the Mystic/Hog trail system can also be made to the Bell Rock Pathway and Little Horse Trail, opening up a variety of hiking opportunities further east in the area of the Village of Oak Creek.

The Mystic/Hog trail system loop hike is definitely one of the more enjoyable and scenic hikes in Sedona.  It is a popular and frequently used trail system for local hikers and visitors alike.

Trail Details

Access:  The trail can be accessed from a number of different locations and other interconnecting trails in the area, but the most direct connection is the Mystic Trailhead off of Chapel Road.

Length: The length varies depending on the route chosen but the above-described hike is approximately three miles in length.

Rating: The above-described hike is rated as easy to moderate. However, other interconnecting hikes in the area can be more difficult, so hikers should do some research prior to attempting other hikes to assure that they fit within your level of ability.

Use: Heavy, especially from March through May, and September through November.

Season: Year round, but hikers should wear protection from the sun such as wide-brimmed hats and sun block, and carry at least two quarts of water if hiking this trail in the summer.

Hiking Time: Varies, but the above-described hike should take no more than 90 minutes to two hours.

Cumulative Elevation: The elevation gain and loss can vary between 200 to 600 feet, depending on the hike.  The elevation gain and loss for the above-described hike varies between 50 and 100 feet.
USGS Maps: Sedona