Apache Maid Trail: the route to Casner Butte

SEDONA – There are two popular stories on how Apache Maid Trail got its name. Both involve troops from Camp Verde. Of course, both involve an Apache female.

In the first story, circa 1873, same said Camp Verde soldiers fought Apaches, killed an Apache woman and took her baby.

The other story takes place in 1874, when a young Apache girl accompanied Camp Verde troops – and they eventually named the mountain after her.

The trail now known as the Apache Maid Trail is one of Sedona’s more demanding hikes, though pretty much each website on the trail gives a different length of hike.

Not splitting hairs, but taking the median of the trail’s projected distances, it’s hard to imagine that a 10-mile one-way hike with an elevation gain of 2,411 feet could be graded 2.5 in a five-point difficulty scale, as one site says.

To reach the trailhead, you will hike approximately 2.5 miles on the Bell Trail to the Apache Maid trail marker, which is on the left. At that point, Apache Maid Trail takes you near the Wet Beaver Creek Canyon rim, a most scenic and most beautiful red rock gorge.

There are also several switchbacks on the trail, as well as a view of the high desert flora, wildflowers and cacti. The trail appears to be less traveled because much of the path is clogged with overgrowth.

The trail leads to a fire lookout atop Apache Maid Mountain. Because the trail is also difficult to follow, first-timers and folks not in tip-top shape may want to consider just hiking to this point, and tackling more of the trail on return trips.

Even if your first trek on this trail is relatively short, there are plenty of overlooks of the canyon, as well as a panoramic view of both the San Francisco Peaks and Casner Butte and the San Francisco Peaks.

If you do brave the entire trail, you can see what seems to be miles of lava walls covered in prickly pear cactus.

The Sedona Ranger District is the trail’s managing agency. Call 928-282-4119 for more information. No motor vehicles allowed, and no mechanized vehicles in the wilderness. Though it is open year-round, the best time to use Apache Maid Trail is between April and November.

How to get there

From the I-17 SR 179 interchange, drive south on FR 618 1.5 miles southeast to the Old Beaver Creek Ranger Station turnoff.

Instead of turning in to the station, keep going straight (north) about 100 feet to the Bell Trailhead and parking lot.

Hike the Bell Trail for about three miles to the Apache Maid Trail.

What to bring?

Hiking boots or trail running shoes are a must; the trail is steep, though not particularly rocky. Of course also bring plenty of water.

The views are beautiful, so if you are into photography, bring some sort of camera. If you plan to be out there for much of the day, bring energy-friendly snacks – and by all means, don’t leave your trash behind.

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