A Tour of Sedona’s Mountain Biking Trails and Craft Breweries

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Many people know Sedona, Arizona, for its vibrantly colored red rocks and spiritual vortexes. It’s also known as one of the nation’s top snowbird destinations. But did you know that Sedona and the surrounding area is a mountain biking and craft beer Mecca? Ok, maybe not so much for the craft beer, but there are at least five craft breweries in and around Sedona. And the mountain biking trails? With hundreds of miles of trails to play on, snowbird or not, Sedona is a must! And we’ve got a few tips on beers, biking and camping. We’ll throw some food at you, too.

Quaint Towns Everywhere

Sedona isn’t really just Sedona. With so many quaint towns to explore, most only a 30-minute drive away, this is a an explorer’s dream. And with biking trails and breweries strategically located throughout this Mecca, this is mountain biking and craft beer heaven. But we mustn’t forget the wine. The Verde Valley Wine Trail is one of Arizona’s top wine trails.

Each of these Sedona area towns is unique in their own characteristics, with something different to explore everywhere. Activities and excursions such as off-roading, hiking, hot air balloon and helicopter rides, shopping, dining and everything anyone needs to be entertained both outdoors and in.

Landing on FR 525

We are here to guide you on your very own mountain biking and craft beer tour throughout Sedona and the surrounding areas of Cottonwood, Clarkdale, Jerome, Camp Verde, Flagstaff and Prescott. While Flagstaff and Prescott are a little farther away than the other towns, they are worth a day’s visit if that’s all you have. If you have more time, I’d wander yonder and check them out. The MTB trails there alone warrant more of your time.

We’ve broken up this charming region into each town with MTB trails, breweries, and a few more tidbits of valuable information for each place. But the best piece of advice I can give you when visiting Sedona, the surrounding Verde Valley area, along with Flagstaff and Prescott, is to spend a lot of time here if you can. There’s so much to drink, ride and experience. If you’ve only got a day or two to ride and drink, then pick one town, maybe two, enjoy it completely, and be sure to come back again.

SEDONA

Located at the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon in the northern section of the Verde Valley region, people from all over the world pay homage to the red rocks and vortexes that call this place home. As mountain bike lovers, we pay homage to the trails.

Sedona Craft Breweries

While there truly isn’t much for a craft beer scene directly in Sedona, one of our favorite breweries is located here, Sedona Beer Company. Just off 89A, on Jordan Road, they’re a short walk from the businesses of touristy Sedona to the calming of great craft beers and delectable food. So, when you’re done with the incessant gift shops that line Sedona’s most popular drag, come on into Sedona Beer Company. Mac and Kali, the owners, will treat you quite kindly while you cozy up to the bar or enjoy some sunshine on the charming patio.

Beer and sunshine on the patio at Sedona Beer Co

And while we haven’t been there yet – just means we need to come back – be sure to pay a visit to Sedona’s oldest craft brewery, Oak Creek Brewing Company. Not only do they have a cozy tasting room at the brewery off of Coffee Pot Road, but they also have a full restaurant featuring wood-fired fare at the historic Tlaquapaque Center.

Sedona MTB Trails

Oh, where to begin! There are miles upon miles upon miles of trails to be found here. Some right in town, others just outside of town close to free camping. Carroll Canyon Trails are just on the outer edge of town as you head west out of Sedona. With more blue trails than anything else here, it’s the perfect place to get your feet wet before tearing off onto the other wondrous trails in Sedona.

We spent most of our time riding the Dry Creek Trails in Boynton Canyon, just along Boynton Pass Road. With Forest Road 525, AKA The Main Drag, a mere 15 minute drive away, and less than 10 miles from Sedona proper, these trails are both convenient and a blast to ride. There are four easy to access parking lots that connect all the trails together in one way or another. The majority of trails are made for intermediate riders, with a few greens and black trails thrown in for good measure.

But, what we really loved about this trail system, is the stunning views of the red rocks everywhere. Combine that with the flow, a few technical spots here and there, some good climbing to get your heart racing, and some good downhill to get you flying, these trails are definitely a favorite.

Ken on Boynton Canyon MTB trails

Be aware, though, the trailheads here can get quite busy with both hikers and bikers, especially on the weekends. But the further in you ride, the less people you’ll come across. When we visited, the parking lots were overflowing, but the trails were quiet. I had no idea where all the hikers were, but that’s ok, they weren’t on our trails.

Since we were only here for one week, we didn’t have near enough time to explore all the trails. There are so many more. Trails such as Schnebly Hill, Adobe Jack, Broken Arrow and more. Check out all the Sedona trails on Trailforks.

Other Things Besides Beer and Biking

Everyone loves Sedona, meaning everyone is there, meaning there is quite the congestion at times getting into and out of Sedona’s shopping, dining and touristy section along 89A heading towards Flagstaff. So, you’ll either have to put up with all the people and wait times for dining, or find one of the many other quaint stores and shopping prior to entering Sedona’s popular downtown area.

This is exactly how we came across Vino di Sedona, a cute wine and craft beer bar complete with Italian appetizers and pizza. Their indoor space is warm and inviting and offers all types of wine and beer to go. Their patio space is expansive and made for the love of the outdoors with a music stage and waterfall. A great way to experience what Sedona has to offer without all the people.

Live music on Vino di Sedona’s patio

How about some coffee? We loved this place because of its uniqueness and chocolate, but we also loved it because it’s not in the midst of all the tourists. Be sure to pay Synergy Lounge & Kitchen a visit for organic coffee, herbal elixirs, chocolate and more. It’s truly a coffee shop with character.

If you love boondocking, then you’ll love camping at the Main Drag on Forest Road 525 (Loy Butte Road). With sites right off of 89A, you can pull in for a quick overnight, or drive the five miles further in for a choice of many sites with views and vistas like you can only experience in Sedona. This road is very popular. It is also a dirt road. Put those two together, and you will have red dust everywhere. You will also have a lot of people coming in and out on mountain bikes, OHVs, campers, jeeps and any other vehicle you can imagine. However, if you take your time driving down this bumpy road, almost any size rig can get in here. And if you keep your eyes open you’ll be able to find your slice of heaven, alongside the beauty of Sedona’s red rocks.

RAIF camped on the Main Drag

VERDE VALLEY

Less than 20 miles southwest of Sedona lies the heart of Arizona wine country, Verde Valley. This includes Cottonwood, Clarkdale, Camp Verde, Pine and surrounding areas. While Verde Valley may be known for its wine, there are still breweries to explore, mountain biking trails to ride and whimsical neighborhoods to wander through.

Verde Valley Craft Breweries

Being in Sedona and Verde Valley for just about a week, and making it to the three out of the four breweries in Verde Valley, we think we did OK. Verde Brewing Company is the only one we didn’t make it to, but the reviews sound wonderful. We’ll just have to make it there when we go back.

We did make it to THAT Brewery in Cottonwood. And oh what a place THAT place is. Tucked away in an industrial neighborhood with no outdoor lights to speak of – due to the area’s “Dark Sky” designation – it’s quite an adventure in itself just locating it. But once you walk in the doors, the warm ambiance and simplicity of the taproom connected to the brewhouse are perfectly inviting. So grab a chair, say hi to a stranger and lose yourself here for a moment. We’ve also heard that their Pine location is just as good.

Locals hanging out at THAT Brewery

If you’re in need of some rustic, old-world charm, mouth-watering burgers and a handcrafted beer, Belfry Wood Fired Grill & Brewery in Cottonwood is the place to visit. Housed in a restored church that once hosted many congregations since the 1920s, Belfry continues the gatherings. It may now be around a beer, but the bell, the belfry and the love for community still stand strong.

Road friends ready for some grub!

Smelter Town Brewery in Clarkdale may not be Belfry with its burgers and wood-fired menu, but just like Belfry it offers old-world charm in a historical building that now brings people together over a beer. With a patio overlooking the small town park, it’s quite lovely soaking up the sunshine, listening to the chatters of a family picnic while conversing with the locals in this quaint small town brewery. Even better? Smelter Town is a bed and brew. Rent a room and drink the night away knowing your bed is just upstairs.

Enjoying the sunshine on Smelter Town’s patio.

Verde Valley MTB Trails

The place to go in Verde Valley for some serious mountain biking fun is Dead Horse Ranch State Park on the Verde River in Cottonwood. The majority of the trails here are intermediate rides with some rocky terrain thrown in making a few spots more technical than others. But with 42 miles and 20 trails, the $7.00 per vehicle or $3.00 per bike charge to get in is reported to be worth it.

When we visited, we only had time to explore this area before meeting friends for a beer (priorities), so we came across an unnamed trail system and decided to head there instead. Conveniently close to a neighborhood, but lacking any type of stunning views (or shade for that matter), the Backbone Trail is a three-mile out and back beginner to intermediate trail. Still a good way to get a quick ride in, if that’s all the time you’ve got.

While most mountain bikers head to Sedona, it’s worth a visit to Verde Valley to check out their trails, as well. For a few more in this area, click here to explore more on Trailforks.

Other Things Besides Beer and Biking

You can’t mention Verde Valley without mentioning the wine. No matter how much of a beer lover we all might be, at least for me, there’s a time when I love sipping on a glass of red wine. And doing so from a local vineyard or winery is a treat. Just like my beer, I love for my wine to be local, as well. Be sure to check out the many wineries along the Verde Valley Wine Trail.

Verde Valley Wine Trail

Even with our focus on breweries and biking, we love to wander the streets of the places we visit. Sometimes that means exploring the main streets that host most of the shopping and dining districts. Other times that means wandering off the beaten path and through the neighborhoods checking out the architecture and styles of houses, wondering if we could live and work here. Whatever your style, be sure to wander Old Town Cottonwood where you’ll find window shopping opportunities, restaurants, wineries, coffee shops and time to people watch.

A few of those well-known places to eat and taste and enjoy the company you’re with are Bing’s Burger Station, a 50s style diner; Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room & Oesteria, coming from Merkin Vineyards owned by Maynard Keenan, lead singer of Tool; and Pizzeria Bocce, world-class pizza with an extensive patio space to enjoy the cool Arizona evenings.

Planning just a day trip here from the Sedona area is completely doable, and if a day is all you have, choose a few places and enjoy those without worrying about what you might be missing out on. Because whatever you choose, here, it’s going to be great. But if you have more time to spend, there’s plenty to keep you busy.

JEROME

Perched atop a mountain, this historical mining town is a must-see and has a lot to offer. Except craft beer! Wine? Around every corner. Craft beer? Good luck. Okay, but putting that aside for a moment, there is a lot of history to explore here and a lot of interesting stores to wander into. What we loved the most, though, was strolling up and down the hills through the neighborhood and people-watching. It’s the simple things.

Hilltop view from Jerome overlooking the Douglas Mansion

Jerome Craft Breweries

Ok, now about the beer.  First, there are no craft breweries here. Granted, there are opportunities to find craft beer, but they are extremely limited.  Especially when the only craft beer bar is currently closed (with hopes of opening again soon). A quick glance into the door  Wicked City Tap & Cork, named after Jerome’s infamous nickname, Wicked, this place seems to call for a trip back to Jerome, even if only to stop here.

If only we could have gone inside.

No craft beer at the beer bar or at the local tavern and not much to talk about at the many wineries in town, there were a few taps of local beer at the world-famous Haunted Hamburger.  Because it is one of the top destination restaurants here, it is often quite crowded.  Still, no beer for us.

Hungry and a bit irked, we finally found a couple bottles of Arizona beer at the Hilltop Deli.  Located just above the shenanigans of main street, we were rewarded with food, beer, and the perfect patio to watch the insane amount of tourists that visit this historic town on a weekend.

Finally found some craft beer at the Hilltop Deli.

Jerome MTB Trails

Just like the beer scene, the mountain biking scene is also non-existent in Jerome. If you’re a motorcycle fan, the road to Jerome would be quite the scenic drive. Only open to vehicles less than 50 feet in length, this could be the way to travel. If you’re a bit more of an expert mountain biker, just outside of Jerome is Mingus Mountain where you can test your skills on your MTB or your OHV.  

Other Things Besides Beer and Biking

Those many places to explore include historical sites such as the Gold King Mine, the Douglas Mansion and Museum or the Sliding Jail.  Since we’re not quite the historical types, we couldn’t tell you hide nor hair about these places, but they are popular with those that love history.

I do believe I mentioned the love of wine in this area.  Jerome is no different.  Even you’re more of a beer drinker, I encourage you to choose one of the many wine tasting places throughout Jerome.  One, it’ll give your palate a break from beer, and two, it’ll make you appreciate the price of beer.  I do love some good red wine, but I do not like the price of it.  But if you’re exploring, sipping on a good glass of red at a cozy tasting room in quaint Jerome, Arizona, is a good way to do so.  

I could tell you to stop by Caduceus Cellars or eat at the Haunted Hamburger or take a ghost tour, but what you should really do is wander the town itself without any prerequisites.  Stop in shops that fit your personality.  Find the places that call to you.  So many people only visit well-known sites, but there are many hidden gems here and throughout the entire Sedona area. It’s up to you to find them and create your own adventures and places that you love. 

FLAGSTAFF

A day trip to Flagstaff from Sedona is a requirement for the 30 mile scenic route along 89A that gets you there. Leave your big rig in Sedona, as this road winds its way through Oak Creek Canyon. Sedona is where the mountains meet desert. 89A from Sedona to Flagstaff is where the desert truly becomes mountains. Be prepared for what mountains mean. Here, it’s very likely you’ll come across snow. And on the weekends, you’ll also come across a lot of people taking the same scenic route.

89A Flagstaff to Sedona

If you plan on hiking or stopping anywhere along this route, be patient. Finding parking at any of the quaint shops or at the trailheads is like finding gold. I recommend turning this Sunday drive into any other day, say maybe a Wednesday drive. Although during peak season, this is a well sought after day trip any day of the week.

Flagstaff Beer and Biking and Other Things

We haven’t spent much time in Flagstaff, but there is plenty to experience. If you want to follow in our footsteps, here you go:

We haven’t been biking here yet (shameful, we know), so let us know what you think. Check out Trailforks for detailed trail information in and around Flagstaff.

With many breweries, trails, restaurants and more to explore in Flagstaff, you might want to plan on spending a few days here, but if you’ve only got a day, then at least you got a taste of the good stuff.

Warm night inside at Hops on Birch

PRESCOTT

Most people don’t do a day trip to Prescott from Sedona, but you could. It is only a 90 minute drive from Sedona. You do drive through Cottonwood and Jerome. Sounds like a tour and I’d say you should just pack up your rig and head on over to Prescott for a few days, instead of one. There’s plenty of places to stay, drink, eat, ride and more.

Prescott Beer and Biking and Other Things

And we’ve covered all of that for you when we visited LazyG Brewhouse in Prescott. From Whiskey Row to BarnStar Brewing to mountain biking to homemade tiramisu at Limoncello to Superstition Meadery, Prescott is impressive. Want a hint? It’s pronounced pres-kit, not pres-cot. Now you can sound like a local.

It was hard to leave Sedona and the Verde Valley area, along with Prescott and Flagstaff. But, here’s the deal. If we leave, it means we get to explore more places to give you more guidance. But it also means we get to come back.


Want More?

Not quite done touring Arizona? We get it. We’ve got a lot going on in Arizona. Click here for more, and be sure to check out our tour of Tucson’s best breweries.

Welcome to Bikin’ Bits – a bit about bikin’ – so you don’t have to look to find the trails you want to ride. Where we tell you the loops to ride, the loopdy-loops to ride, the uphills, the downhills. Where to MTB!



Need some guidance on finding great craft breweries and mountain biking trails? We’ve got you covered and more are being added every week.

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Xxx
Xxx
8 months ago

Thanks for totally ignoring Sedona’s first brewery, Oak Creek Brewery, with a tasting room at the brewery off of Coffee Pot Road and a full blown restaurant at the Tlaqapaqe
Center on Highway 179.

Dan
Dan
7 months ago
Reply to  Xxx

The brewery, near coffee pot, is better then the restaurant. It is much more relaxed. Worth the trip to go back and try. The Hefeweizen is world class, in my opinion.