SEDONA -- There's no question that Sedona can be a hiker's paradise. The Hike House store in Sedona can be a helpful place for those looking for a trail to hike.
One of the things the store offers is a free hiking clinic. Store manager Derek Bond said that in about a month and a half, the store will also provide guided hiking tours.
The Hike House has an interactive software called Sedona trail finder. The software asks the potential hiker five questions about what he or she is looking for in trails.
Bond said in the store's four and half years, it has found a lot of customers.
"Sedona is America's day hike capital," Bond said. "As far as accessibility, there are so many trails and easy to get to."
Bond also said the store has been well received since it opened.
We do have a pretty good following," Bond said. "We have returning customers. We cater mostly to the tourists, because that's what Sedona is. It's a tourist town."
Bond added there isn't an exact number of how many trails there are in Sedona.
"Officially on the trail map there are 130," he said. "But there are also social trails. A lot of times Greg (Stevenson) says in his talks there are around 200 trails."
Bond is a hiker himself.
"I'm an avid hiker," he said. "That's what's kept me in Sedona. I'm just connecting with nature. Getting outside, being in all the beauty of Sedona."
Bond is originally from Phoenix, went to college in Arkansas, then moved to Sedona.
Greg Stevenson, owner of the Hike House, explained why Sedona is a perfect location for the store.
"There are more trails and better accessibility than any other destination in the United States," Stevenson said. "We've done the comparable analysis of all hiking destinations. I can tell you it's not even close."
He said that information led to the logical idea of the store.
"Four and a half years ago, we came up with the idea of opening up the store that was worthy of this destination," he said. "The first thing we did is we built the store with a technology called Sedona trail finder."
Stevenson explained what Sedona trail finder is.
"Sedona trail finder is a high definition interactive technology that looks to marry your ability and desires to the perfect trail," he said.
He said the number of trails can make things difficult for the hiker.
"One of the problems faced when coming to Sedona is the realization of understanding how many trails are here," he said. "I would argue most people miss the best parts of Sedona because they don't know how to access the best parts of Sedona."
Stevenson mentioned Sedona trail finder aims to in part to help hikers what they might miss.
"It starts with a short video of the beauty, if you will, of the area," he said. "After the video, it goes into five screens."
Stevenson said it then starts to ask questions. Some of those questions are how long the hiker wants to hike, how far, the location of where the hiker wants to hike.
"It's like a dating service for hiking trails," he said.
He said hikers can get a full sense of what they're getting into.
"We can open it by location, time and distance," he said. "I actually like time better than distance because people know how long they want to be on the trail. The problem with distance is if you say two miles, if that has elevation, two miles can feel like five miles."
Stevenson said he thinks there is one category more important than the rest.
"The most important is difficulty because we want to keep people safe," he said. "Level one is easy, five is difficult. Just by going through those few clicks, I have now developed a lists of trails that match your abilities and desires. The realization people come to very quickly as they visit this area is they can come back here every year for the next 20 years and never do the same trail twice."
He added that he wants hikers to gain something they've never had before.
"Our goal more than anything is to give you an experience you didn't know you could have," Stevenson said. "If we can do that, there's a sense of reciprocity where people come back and stay longer and visit our store more often. So this service is fun, it's free. It's the core of what we do at the Hike House."
Stevenson said with summer approaching, hiking will be a little different.
"In the heat of summer, we'll hike from about 4:45 a.m. in the morning until about 11 a.m.," he said. "Take a break, until about 4 p.m. in the afternoon. Then we can hike from 4 to 9 p.m. As soon as the sun gets a little bit low it cools off enough so you can hike. We have a number of shaded trails, water trails."
Stevenson said the store is looking forward to the guided trails.
"This is the first time that we've been open in four and a half years that the forest service has opened up for guided outings," he said. "In the past we kind of farmed those out to third parties. We've just been approved, we received word that we will have access to permits that will allow us to do guided hikes," he said. "This is the first time that we've been open in four and a half years that the forest service has opened up for guided outings,"he said.
The tours will start in mid July.