brins mesa

Happy Hiking: Seven Sacred Pools

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A very popular hiking destination in Sedona is called the Seven Sacred Pools.  It is located in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness and may be reached by the Soldier Pass Trailhead or Jordan/Cibola Pass/Brins Mesa Trailhead.

Getting to Seven Sacred Pools

It is very hard to find parking at the Soldier Pass location, thus I started my hike at the Jordan/Cibola Pass/ Brins Mesa Trailhead.

This is a fee area ($5 daily, $15 weekly), and the machine takes credit cards if you do not have a National Parks Pass.  Do not park on the side of the dirt road, or you will be ticketed! I heard you can pay a local to shuttle you to the trailhead, but I didn’t try this.  I just got up early.

I arrived by 7am on a Wednesday morning in March and there were plenty of spots available.  I didn’t get started until 7:30am and by the time I returned at 9:30am cars were circling the parking lot.  Uniquely, with as strict as the parking signs were, I never did see a no camping sign. 

The Hike

Upon reading the reviews on AllTrails, many people mentioned using the Jordan Trailhead, as a result, I mistakenly followed the Jordan Trail to the left instead of beginning at Cibola Pass or Brins Mesa Trails which are both to the right.

Jordan Trail

While I added some distance to the five-mile loop hike by doing this, I didn’t mind as the short detour connected to the loop after about a mile, and I had this beautiful path all to myself.  The previous day’s rain dampened the smooth clay path just enough that there was no dust or mud.

Jordan Trail in Sedona

Additionally, dew drops hung from the cacti thorns as the trail passed through the shaded juniper forest.  I’m generally not big on southwestern terrain, but this path and forest was quite pretty.  It’s too bad power lines go right through one of the nicest views!

view from Jordan Trail on the way to seven sacred pools

Anyway, where Jordan and Cibola Pass Trails connect, I veered left and stayed on Jordan Trail and continued in a clockwise direction.  Soon it turned into Soldier Pass near a large sink hole called Devil’s Kitchen.  While the trails are extremely well marked, it is good to know which ones you plan on following, as there is a massive network of paths.  I highly recommend the AllTrails app for a map.

devils kitchen on soldier pass

Seven Sacred Pools

Continuing along Soldier Pass, I soon reached the Seven Sacred Pools.  Fortunately, I read in a review that they are just divots in the rock and sometimes don’t contain water.  Had I reached the formation without knowing this, I would have been sorely disappointed.  While there is a pretty backdrop of buttes, the pools themselves aren’t a marvel.

seven sacred pools in sedona

They are sacred as they are important to area wildlife in the dry desert.  I am pleased I got to see them after yesterday’s rain.  If they were dry, I likely would have walked right by if it weren’t for the crowd of 10 hikers and the sign.

The ponds descend down between two rock ledges, and they cannot all be captured in one image unless you are flying a drone which is not permitted in wilderness areas.  From the top, it looks like the money shot is from the bottom, but it is not.  That said, if you like cairns, there is a rock garden of them at the bottom.

While it is always nice to have a destination on the path, in this instance, the surrounding buttes are what made this hike so lovely.  The views from the top of Soldier Pass and Brins Mesa are magnificent. 

Soldier Pass

Upon climbing up Soldier Pass, I’m thankful I turned around for the view on my way to the top.  The green valley surrounding by red rock formations is a sight to behold.  After taking in all the majesty, I thought, maybe I should have hiked the loop counter clockwise.

View from solider pass on Seven sacred pools hike

8 Second Video View from Soldier Pass

Brins Mesa

But then, as I crossed the mesa and admired some snow dusted buttes to the left, I came to the descent.  I was blessed to take in another spectacular view while descending Brins Mesa Trail.  After a while, I had to stop taking pictures and just walk, or I’d never finish.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the hike to Seven Sacred Pools, as I expected hoards of people.  Surprisingly, despite being extremely popular among tourists, there weren’t nearly as many people as there are on Colorado 14ers.  I really enjoyed this path despite skipping the spur to the caves.

The caves are supposed to be very cool, but steep, and require climbing.  I didn’t know exactly what “climbing” meant, and with Annie is tow, it might have been too difficult for the two of us.  That said, if you are ready and able, find directions to the caves as they are off the main path.  Everybody says the are worth the detour. I’ll have to return. Happy Hiking!  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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