MapSedona location map
The trailhead for the hike is half a mile along the paved Back of Beyond Road
, which forks westwards off AZ 179, 3.4 miles south of the US 89A junction. This road dead ends a little way further at an upscale residential development, its houses built on a gently sloping, cactus and tree-covered hillside above Oak Creek. The parking area is rather small, accommodating only 18 vehicles, and often fills up by mid morning, but extra space is available on verges and on a stony streambed which crosses a little further along the road; a usually dry drainage but one prone to flash floods.
From the trail register at the car park, the path crosses the wash, climbs a little up a sandy slope past trees and bushes, to a rocky area, where the vegetation quickly fades away, allowing for the first good views of the surroundings. The recently constructed Templeton Trail
intersects, then the main route begins a steep slickrock ascent, mostly straight up without switchbacks, occasionally crossing a small gully but otherwise over a smooth, exposed rock face, aided by steps at a few places. The route is marked by extra big cairns, made by enclosing piles of stones in wire mesh. A less steep section, where the trail traverses southwards a way, is followed by the final sharp ascent to the saddle, where for the first time the lands to the south and west come are revealed; ahead stretches an expansive vista across bushy red rock country towards the distant Black Hills. The far side of the butte is equally steep, and the rocks at either side rise up vertically, so there is no chance of climbing any higher, though an unofficial path does continue southwards another quarter of a mile, leading to two more saddles.