Situated between Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona, Wilson Mountain is well-positioned in a hiker's paradise. This steep trail up the south side of Wilson Mountain gains over 2,000 vertical feet, most in the first half of the hike. The physical challenge of the hike combined with the small parking area and hot weather means that you won't see too many people on the trail.
Starting from the Midgely Bridge parking area, the trail climbs among a variety of cacti, yucca, agave and other shrubs. Utah juniper and manzanita offer occasional shade along the way. In spring, wildflowers dot the landscape with bright colors: pinks, purples, yellows and more. If you're lucky, you'll catch a magnificent agave bloom. Any time of year, however, you'll see the dead agave stalks towering impossibly high into the sky. It takes so much energy to produce flowers and fruits that the plant dies after flowering. The ground along the trail is littered with toppled agave stalks, skeleton-like remnants of their unusually dramatic blooms.
As the trail ascends, the plant life changes. Utah juniper are replaced by alligator juniper. You'll know the difference by looking at the bark, which resembles alligator skin. Pinyon pine and ponderosa pine become more prevalent. The trail mellows out as it crosses a bench and heads for the viewpoint trail junction. At this point you'll notice the forest is recovering from a 2006 burn. Many trees are dead or scarred. Looking past the old trees, observe the plant life that is newly flourishing. These pioneer species will usher in a new chapter of life in the forest.
While neither trail leads to the actual summit of Wilson Mountain, the two viewpoints offer different views of the surrounding area. Visit the Sedona Overlook for a stellar view of Sedona and the surrounding red rock country. Take the much longer spur to the North Canyon Overlook to gaze down into Oak Creek Canyon. If you are heading for the highpoint, be prepared to travel a short ways cross-country to the crumbly rock that makes up Wilson Mountain's summit.
To visit the Wilson Mountain overlooks via a shorter route, start your hike in Oak Creek Canyon. The North Wilson Trail to the Sedona Overlook is 3.6 miles one way.