Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club
David Miller Trail Day Hike
when November 18, 2017
  Trip Report : May 7, 2011
  Trip Report : April 22, 2006
  Trip Report : May 1, 1999
where? Sedona – Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness
the hike     Ted Tenny last led this hike for the Arizona Trailblazers in May, 2011, so after a hiatus of six and a half years it’s time once again to revisit what is arguably the best and most scenic loop hike in all of Red Rock Country. And especially so, since the majority of our members have been hiking with us for less than six years and most have’t hiked this full loop trail before.
    The David Miller Trail, completed in 1999, links the Secret Canyon Trail to the Bear Sign Trail, creating a 7.3 mile loop hike through some of the most scenic and wild backcountry in the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness. If you want to experience the very best of Sedona’s red rock country, then this is the hike for you. From the Secret Canyon Trailhead we head northwest through the sandy bed of Dry Creek leading into Secret Canyon. After 2.1 miles we leave the Secret Canyon Trail and take a right at the junction with the David Miller Trail.
    This will be the toughest part of the hike, with 800' of elevation gain in 1.1 miles. Starting out in a dense oak/cypress forest for the first half-mile, we are then rewarded with spectacular red rock vistas on breaking out above the forest. We have one last steep scramble to the top of a ridge, where we reach our highest point on the trail at 5,500 feet. Here we will stop for a lunch break and enjoy the great views.
    After lunch we’ll start an immediate and steep descent into Bear Sign Canyon, dropping a total of 800', with giant red rock buttes and pinnacles on both sides of the canyon. At the David Miller/Bear Sign Junction we make a sharp right turn and continue dropping in elevation for the next 3.1 miles to the Bear Sign/Dry Creek Trailhead. From here it’s a one-mile walk south on Vultee Arch Road back to the Secret Canyon Trailhead.
    There are 17 stream crossings in Bear Sign Canyon, beginning with the one before the trail junction. Intervals between them are very uneven. Each crossing has its own personality, with cobblestones, bare rock, logs and branches, or pools of water.
    This hike is described in Footloose from Phoenix, by Ted Tenny, pages 258-264.
•  Sturdy hiking boots
•  At least 3 liters of water
•  Rain poncho
•  Hat, sunblock, sunglasses
•  Lunch or snacks
•  Camera
distance 7.3 miles
time 4-5 hours
EC +-1100' elevation change
elevations 4,659' (Secret Canyon Trailhead) to 5,485' (David Miller Pass)
starting at
Secret Canyon Trailhead 34° 55.801' N,  111° 48.358' W  [NAD27]
on trail 100% — Secret Canyon, David Miller, Bear Sign Trails
rating "C"   The David Miller Trail is steep near the pass.   Rate yourself as a hiker.
dogs no
cost Sharing gas expenses with the driver.
The club also allows voluntary contributions of $5 per non-member.
weather Sedona
meet 7:00 AM in the Fry’s parking lot on the SW corner of I-17 & Bell Road. Park behind Denny’s, near the entrance to the Deer Valley Park & Ride.
•  On I-17, continue north to the Highway 260 turnoff, Exit 287, at Camp Verde.
Turn left and go northwest on Highway 260 to Cottonwood.
In Cottonwood turn right and go northeast on Highway 89A to west Sedona.
Turn left onto Dry Creek Road and proceed for another 2.0 miles to Vultee Arch Road (FR 152).
Make a right turn onto FR 152 and continue north for 3.4 miles to the Secret Canyon Trailhead. Make a sharp left turn into the parking area.
NOTE: FR 152 is extremely rough and full of large rocks and boulders and stair steps very similar to Schnebly Hill Road. So high-clearance/4WD vehicles are required. If we can’t get enough 4WD high-clearance vehicles to get all of us to the trailhead, we may have to substitute another hike in place of this one.

Schedule of Events Arizona Trailblazers Home Page

updated November 5, 2017 © Copyright 2017, Arizona Trailblazers.  All rights reserved.