An easy-to-moderate hike below scenic red rock cliffs (twin buttes) just north of and within view of Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte up to Chicken Point, the entry to Broken Arrow Trail, Submarine Rock etc.

There are views of many other famous rocks and attractions.

The hike is a 3.6 mile out and back route with elevation change of about 400 feet.

Our hikes are generally at a pace conducive to social banter of interest to heathens, and allowing for time for photography of the local geology and wildlife. We’ll keep in touch to stay together as much as possible in order to maximize our social opportunities. With social or photo stops and off course excursions expect this hike to last about 3 hours.

For the asking, I will have handouts discussing, geology of the area, and plant and animals we’ll likely encounter. See the bottom of this announcement for a short summary.


Distance: 3.6 miles .. . TBD

Time: 3 hours

Difficulty: an easy moderate

Trail: packed sand granules for the most part

Elevation: [masked] ft.

change: 400 ft.

Parking: paved lot with toilets

Tailhead GPS: 34°[masked]’ N, 111°[masked]’ W

Entry fees: A Red Rock Pass is required for humans to park a car at the lot.

the $5 pass may be purchased from a machine at the parking lot.

Dogs: OK on leash


Always carry and drink plenty of water!

Sunscreen and insect repellent is advised.

Supportive footwear is also advisable.

SAFETY FIRST… we have no medical provisions.

Hike at your own risk.

How to find us: Meet at trailhead parking lot (directions below)… If lost or late, my cell is[masked]-5945.

To get there:

From the 101 take the 17 north to exit 298 (about 84 miles) and follow state highway 179 north about 10 miles to the trailhead parking lot on right about 2 miles past the Bell Rock Blvd roundabout and just south of the roundabout with exits to Back O Beyond Rd and also Indian Cliffs Rd to the east.

Google says it is about 1 hr. 30 min. from freeway 101 at the I-17.

Google says it is about 1 hr. 50 min. from freeway 51 at the I-10.

Google says it is about 2 hr. from freeway 101 at the 60.


Carpooling can save gas but also enhance the social experience. If you’d like to carpool, you must contact others for arrangements. You could email members or post comments on this announcement page.

NOTE: This is the first of from 1-3 hikes over 1-3 days depending on each individual hiker’s preferences. Hikers participating in several hikes are encouraged to use overnight lodging in or near Sedona.

Several atheist hikers will be staying at the Bell Rock Inn in the Village of Oak Creek Sunday and Monday nights. I encourage you to join us… it’s affordable.

Following the hike: We’ll reconvene locally for rehydration etc., and discuss plans and sites for future Sedona area hikes. Also I have reference books for after the hike.

Bell Rock / Courthouse Butte Loop Geology

The primary reason Sedona attracts over 4 million visitors each year is the collection of sedimentary rock layers known as the Schnebly Hill Formation, named after Sedona’s founders, Carl and Sedona Schnebly.

The Schnebly Hill Formation is responsible for most of the spectacular red-rock scenery in the Sedona area. Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, Cathedral Rock and Coffee Pot Rock are all carved from this orange sandstone and all the bright red rocks in the middle parts of Oak Creek Canyon belong to the Schnebly Hill Formation.

The Sedona area was located at the western edge of Pangaea, the super continent, when the Schnebly Hill Formation was laid down from[masked] million years ago(ma) as the Pedregosa Sea inundated the Sedona area and then retreated to the southeast. At that time there were giant amphibians and mammal-like reptiles living on the coastal dunes of Pangaea.

The Schnebly Hill Formation is divided into layer subdivisions or “members”.

The Bell Rock Member is orange, and composed of sandstone and siltstone. This sediment most likely arrived on the wind but was ultimately deposited and preserved in a broad tidal zone of the Pedregosa Sea. The sands of the Bell Rock Member were worked and reworked as the sea washed back and forth over the sands of the coastal tidal zone.

The Bell Rock Member forms the sloped sides of Bell Rock. It was laid down 278 million years ago (ma). The multiple thin white layers record the times when the Pedregosa Sea eased in and out of this area, depositing limestone conglomerate.


All but the cap of Bell Rock is comprised of the Bell Rock Member. The capstone of Bell Rock is a flat grey deposit of limestone, dolomite and siltstone called the Fort Apache Member. This member documents the incursion of the Pedregosa Sea from the southeast around 277 ma. The Sedona area was submerged below the Pedregosa Sea, depositing the Fort Apache Limestone.


Then about 276 ma the Pedregosa Sea withdrew to the southeast, the coastal dunes of Pangaea at the shallow end of the Sea were deposited as fine-grain sandstone, and accumulated as the Sycamore Pass Member. It is composed of red-to-orange sandstone laid down by the wind but not reworked by the tides. It is seen at the top of Courthouse Butte and also as forming the spires of Cathedral Rock.

Coastal dunes gradually became inland dunes which gradually became the Coconino Sandstone formation, the cream colored formation above the red Schnebly Hill Formation. There are thick deposits of Coconino Sandstone in Oak Creek Canyon and elsewhere in the Mogollon Rim. The Coconino desert persisted from[masked] ma.

Why are the rocks red? The red rocks are a result of a thin layer of iron oxide that coats the outside of each and every individual grain in the sandstone… only about one-half of one per cent of the rocks weight.

Sedona’s sandstone was deposited in terrestrial environments – on river floodplains or wind-blown dunes. After burial of the sediments, ground water flushes through it and attacks the iron minerals chemically and iron-rich grains coat the white grains below and over time stain the white sand red.

Occasionally layers of sand stone of larger grains are laid down and the additional space between the granules allows the water to pass through more readily, flushing away the red grains and leaving those layers white. Coconino Sandstone may have been stained red once upon a time but groundwater may have leached out the iron staining.

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  • Bill

    My wife and I both enjoyed this hike, and were glad we dressed properly for it. Such beautiful, bountiful, and breath taking scenery to experience and enjoy while out in the natural world we live in. We really enjoyed going to Hideaway to kick back and have a meal and two beers after, while getting to know Al, Tammy, and Casey better. Hope I didn't bore anyone with my opinions---I don't get out much to be around others---and my social skills are nil. Bill

    February 24, 2013

  • Al T.

    Rehydration is at the hideaway

    February 24, 2013

  • Mike

    1" of snow in Prescott Valley overnight.

    February 24, 2013

  • Jim

    cold weather hurts my feelings!

    February 24, 2013

  • Susan L.

    I would love to go if I could ride with someone.

    February 23, 2013

  • Conan K.

    I'd like to go, but I need to carpool with someone.

    Anyone have an empty seat in their car and gonna be going by 7th St & Union Hills? I could meet you somewhere too. Call me & leave a message...I'll call you back: (six0two) 4nine2-three2one6.

    February 22, 2013

  • Conan K.

    I'd like to go, but I need a ride.

    February 22, 2013

  • Al T.

    I recently joined the athiest Meetup group and would love to go if I could get a ride with someone. . . . Susan

    February 22, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I sure wish I could go, but this is going to be a killer weekend before yet another trip. Have fun! Hope to see you all soon on another hike!

    February 22, 2013

  • Nina D

    I am sorry that I have to cancel, but tonight,I just found out that Sunday,I have to be in a competition

    February 21, 2013

  • Nina D

    I am sorry that I have to cancel, but tonight,I just found out that Sunday,I have to be in a competition

    February 21, 2013

  • Nina D

    I am sorry that I have to cancel, but tonight,I just found out that Sunday,I have to be in a competition

    February 21, 2013

  • Scott R.


    1 · February 21, 2013

  • Jim

    Posted on the Prescott Freethinker's Website:


    February 19, 2013

  • Susan L.

    I would love to go if I could ride with someone.

    February 17, 2013

  • Bill

    Will be there and try to do better this time. I will eat breakfast and eat before the hike, and drink plenty of water. See you there! Bill & Donna

    February 17, 2013

  • Richard

    I've spent three weeks hiking in Sedona in the past five months, but these group hikes are always scheduled between my vacations. I'd recommend the unofficial Twin Buttes trail if you're hiking to Chicken Point. You can park by the chapel and walk to the Mystic Trail off Chapel Road then take the Pigtail Trail to the unofficial Hog Hollow Trail which connects to the Broken Arrow Trail that goes to both Submarine Rock and Chicken Point. The Chapel Trail will lead back to the parking lot.

    February 17, 2013

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