Weather: 52º, clouds
About this Hike: I'm an avid Sedona hiker, and I made exploring the Dry Creek Basin trails in West Sedona a priority last fall when I spent a week up there. However, I somehow missed Bear Mountain, this in spite of climbing Bear's little sister Doe Mountain. The two even share a (paid parking) trailhead.
To get to Bear Mountain you cross the street and walk through a trail on high desert grassland. Once your ascent begins it's a strenuous but worthwhile climb to the top. Hiking guides state it's a 2.4 mile hike with 1800 feet of elevation gain. I seriously challenge the 2.4 mile distance; I think it's more.
Red rock canyon walls give way to white strata as you approach the summit. There are at least two false summits, and when the main summit comes into view it appears far off—disheartening at times. However, it ends up not being as far away as initial appearances may suggest.
You've reached the main summit when you reach a 'Trail End' sign. The summit is relatively flat, and the terrain is filled with scrubby pines. There is a curious rock pile with a lot of red rocks up there too. I wonder how it got there; doesn't seem natural.
We got off the mountain and back to the grassland portion right at sunset—cutting it way too close by my standards. A sunset through the grasslands would've been beautiful; however, despite the clouds the sunset tonight was lackluster. Bear Mountain is a tough but rewarding hike. I hope to be back.