Hiking Sugarloaf Loop Trail (Maybe The Most Underrated Trail in Sedona…??)
No matter where you go in Sedona, you’re absolutely spoiled for choice when it comes to rewarding hikes with amazing views. However many (though not all) are either crazy crowded or are a difficulty level not everyone wants to tackle. But I present to you maybe the most underrated hike in Sedona…Sugarloaf Loop!
See my other Sedona posts for planning your trip!
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like Sugarloaf Loop is a secret or anything. The trail definitely came up in my pre-trip research but only on the periphery, an “also ran” or “if you have time” kind of mention. And after hiking it, I think that’s nuts.
What’s to love? It’s a pretty quick and mostly flat hike which—paired with the 360-degree views—makes it great for both sunrise and sunset (less hiking in the dark). All told, it’s probably only 20 minutes each way. And it’s far less crowded than any of the other trails I hiked in Sedona.
You’ve got magnificent red rock views in all directions and lush greenery, and for me it felt more like a chill stroll rather than a “hike”. It was peaceful and beautiful.
The TL;dr version?? Incredible views with minimal exertion.
Where to stay in Sedona: I stayed at Enchantment Resort which is a major splurge and while the location is amazing, I didn’t feel like the property quite lived up to the price (see deeper review). On the more luxury end, next time I would still splurge a bit but try Amara instead.
If you’re looking for those amazing close-up red rocks views, another consideration would be Sky Ranch Lodge Resort or The Wilde Resort. Both offer the same benefits of views and locations, have great reviews, and come at a more palatable price tag.
I also stayed a couple nights at Arabella and would recommend it as a great mid-range option. It has a nice courtyard and pool, and they plan lots of activities that guests can join in on (happy hours, stargazing, hikes, etc.). It’s also a pet friendly option.
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What to expect hiking Sugarloaf Loop
To find Sugarloaf Loop, I simply searched in my Google Maps and “Sugar Loaf Trailhead” came up. I easily found the parking area at the trailhead and was on my way (be warned, there are no bathrooms). Tucked away in a residential area off Buena Vista Road, it’s fairly small but I was one of only a couple people parked there on a Sunday afternoon.
One of the first things to clarify is that the first sign you’ll see will be for Teacup Trail, with not a mention of Sugarloaf Loop. That’s still the trail you want right now.
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Generally speaking the Sugarloaf Loop trail is pretty easy to follow—I thought even a little more so than many other trails in the area. Just be on the lookout for either the rock cairns designating which way to go, or the white painted diamonds on the rocks (see pic below). Enjoy the plant life, like juniper trees and prickly pear cactus.
You’ll come to a juncture of Teacup Trail and Thunder Mountain, and want to continue on Teacup Trail.
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As you continue on, you’ll reach another juncture, this time with Sugarloaf Loop Trail going to the right and Teacup going forward…hang a right now. The trail curves around the small peak that you’ll then summit.
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To your left you’ll have close-up views of Capitol Butte (aka Thunder Mountain), Coffee Pot Rock, and other formations.
As you can see, this trail is DEFINITELY less crowded than something like Cathedral Rock (and way easier). I mean, look at this view! And not a soul in sight.
BUT DON’T STOP HERE!
You’ll see a sign for the Sugarloaf Summit Trail, pointing to the right. That trail will climb up a (fairly small) hill…it’s steps of a sort, so no difficult rock scrambling or anything like that.
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From the summit you have awesome views out over Sedona, and depending on which direction you’re looking you can see Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, the Soldier’s Pass area, Bell Rock, and even as far as Mingus Mountain and Jerome.
This was late afternoon, and I was bummed I couldn’t experience this at sunrise or sunset—I’ll bet it’s magnificent!
So I told you this trail is pretty easy…the proof?? I accidentally had to hike this in a dress. I’d been exploring wineries all day in a dress and sandals, but threw some hiking clothes in the car. Sadly I forgot a shirt which is like…kind of important. So I threw on my tennis shoes and tackled the trail in my sundress.
THE HEIGHT OF FASHION.
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I loved the interplay of the cloud shadows on the landscape!
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I couldn’t resist doing a full circle turn on video…I recommend looking at it on full screen!
When you walk back down from the summit to the main trail, you can either continue on the trail and complete the loop (it will keep curving to the right and connect back to Teacup Trail, back to the trailhead).
Or you can go back the way you came (what I did because I stupidly didn’t realize despite the name that the loop was real).
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A quick summary of hiking Sugarloaf Loop & Teacup Trail
- You can find the trailhead in Google Maps as “Sugar Loaf Trailhead”, it’s off Buena Vista Road. This site has very straightforward maps and info.
- The parking lot is fairly small but it wasn’t crowded when I went. But since the hike is pretty short people will come and go frequently even if it’s crowded.
- You’ll need to pay for parking (I think $5?) or if you have the Red Rock Pass or a National Park Pass those will work too. There are no bathrooms or other services.
- This trail is great any time of day, but would be awesome at sunrise or sunset. Since it’s such a short and fairly easy hike, it would be great bringing a picnic along.
- As you start on the trail, you’ll only see a sign for Teacup Trail, with not a mention of Sugarloaf Loop. That’s the trail you want initially.
- You’ll come to a juncture of Teacup Trail and Thunder Mountain, and want to continue on Teacup Trail.
- You’ll reach another juncture, this time with Sugarloaf Loop Trail going to the right and Teacup going forward…go right onto Sugarloaf Loop, curving around the small peak.
- You’ll see a sign for the Sugarloaf Summit Trail, pointing to the right. That trail will climb up a (fairly small) hill…it’s steps of a sort, so no difficult rock scrambling or anything like that.
- When you come down from the summit to the main trail, you can either continue on the Sugarloaf Loop trail and complete the loop (it will keep curving to the right and connect back to Teacup Trail, back to the trailhead), or go back the way you came (what I did because I stupidly didn’t realize despite the name that the loop was real).
- There are also several trails that branch off from Sugarloaf Loop as well, including ways to connect to the Seven Sacred Pools (overrated) and Soldier’s Pass as well.
Other hikes with great views that you’ll love:
- Hiking In Starved Rock State Park, A Perfect Chicago Day Trip
- Why You Have To Visit Utah’s Underrated Snow Canyon State Park
- Hiking Bodega Head Trail On California’s Sonoma Coast
- Exploring Nevada’s Valley Of Fire State Park
- Why A Sunrise Hike Up Masada Should Be On Your Bucket List
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