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Reward Yourself After A Challenging Hike In Sedona


The trails around these magnificent red rocks in Northern Arizona are no joke. Fortunately, there are some good options for refueling after burning a whole bunch of calories.

Right this way to the red rocks

During a recent visit to this wildly popular destination two hours north of Phoenix, a couple approached me on the trail near Bell Rock and asked: Which way is the vortex?

Those magical places are even recognized by the official Visit Sedona website, which describes them as “places where the earth seems especially alive with energy. Many people feel inspired, recharged or uplifted after visiting a vortex.”

I passed along a wise nugget shared with me by a local: The vortex can be felt everywhere in Sedona. Yup, in a town with loads of crystal shops offering aura photos and tarot card readings and other magical thinking practices, that seems about right.

It’s also an outdoor lover’s paradise where trails are shared by hikers, world class mountain bikers and gazelle-like runners. And there I am, huffing and puffing up Soldiers Pass and across the stunning slabs of earth toward the Hangover Trail or taking a side trip off the fairly mellow Marjs Draw to drink in the jaw-dropping views.

True confession: I’ve never been much of a hiker, but I’ve gone along on many wild walks with my ultra-fit spouse. I know I’m a better person for having those strenous experiences, but, hey, hon… when are we going to lunch?

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So worth it

We spent a week revisiting some of our favorite trails and found a few new to us, including a point-to-point on the Hogwash Trail dropping us onto the beginning of Margs Draw and the park loop near the extremely popular Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. Pro tip: If possible, take advantage of the free shuttles that operate around Sedona because traffic and parking can be challenging.

After logging more than five miles on this scenic stroll, we made a beeline on our bikes to Oak Creek because that’s the home of chef Lisa Dahl’s incredible Butterfly Burger.

The haute spot was the site of my last meal out before the pandemic shut everything down in March 2020. I’ve always wanted to return to find out if maybe that memorable lunch was extra special because of the circumstances.

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Guess what? Butterfly Burger was even better than I remembered.

It’s tempting to dish up superlatives like best burger ever — because it was. But maybe that’s because I’d come to the table with a huge appetite. And the wait for our order to be delivered seemed extra long.

And — whoops — they brought my husband the wrong burger, but that’s okay. They made it all right by taking that sandwich off the bill.

Now, down to the business of that juicy patty tucked into a squishy toasted brioche bun. Butterfly Burger soars in two ways: it uses flavorful and fatty ground brisket and the kitchen seasons that meat well. So often, the patty plays a supporting role to all the toppings. But not here. It’s the big beefy star. Bravo!

After inhaling that super rich burger — topped with aged cheddar, remoulade, crispy onions and shredded romaine — I was pumped for the bike ride back to Sedona.

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Check out this video tour of Sedona’s “secret” hiking trails:

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