The Jim Thompson trail is one of Sedona’s lesser known trails. This lack of tourist traffic makes this beautiful hike all the more appealing. Featuring amazing views of the Steamboat Rock formation, as well as a surprising amount of greenery for the area, it really is a nice little photogenic stroll.
You’ll also find a nice diversity of plant life and even some flowers!
The trail is well marked with cairns unlike some of the other Sedona trails which happen to be quite confusing. It’s pretty flat with just a few minor ups and downs, making it a good choice for anyone who is interested in a long, yet easy workout. Views are fantastic the entire way. You will want your camera for this one! This is a really peaceful and relaxing Sedona option -on a beautiful summer day, we saw no more than 5 total hikers. It’s one of the more hassle free options in the area – easy to get to, easy to find parking, and low traffic on the trail itself.
In the late 1800’s, Jim Thompson built this trail to connect his 2 homes: one which was in Oak Creek and the other in the area we know today as Sedona.
Because this hike does not have one standout element (like the Devil’s Bridge arch or Vultee Arch), it tends not to get as overcrowded. Luckily, this means a more peaceful nature trek and better photo opportunities without all the crowds in the way. Near the end of the trail, you will be treated to a great little overlook with decent views of Midley Bridge.
This hike offers the best views of the notable Steamboat Rock formation. All of Sedona’s rock formations are named after the item that they resemble. While some of the rock formations do not look anything like their name, Steamboat actually looks like a boat. You will get a really good up close look at it from this trail.
The trail is quite long – about 2.6 miles each way with at least a 2-3 hour time commitment required. It is better suited for the milder spring and falls months due to the lengthy distance
If you are up for a longer hike, you can connect to the beautiful Wilson Canyon trail at the end point of the trail. This gorgeous shady hike is well worth a visit for the beautiful tree coverage.
Overall, Jim Thompson is one of the nicer longer hikes in the area. The path is well marked, picturesque, and quiet enough that you can hear yourself think. What more could you ask for in a Sedona nature experience?
Location & Additional Info
Address: I highly recommend parking at the Jordan Road trail head as opposed to Midgley Bridge. The bridge parking lot is a popular starting point for several trails, and it is near impossible to find a parking spot especially if you arrive past mid morning. To get to the Jordan Road parking, take 89A north to Jordan Road (it will be on your left after about 0.3 miles). Continue on Jordan Road until reaching Park Ridge Drive until reaching the trailhead parking lot.
Distance: 2.6 miles each way
Time: 2.5-3 hours
Difficulty: Fairly easy as it’s pretty flat, although it could be a bit more difficult for anyone not used to longer hikes, as well as those hiking it in the hot summer season.
Parking fee: A Red Rock Pass ($5 per day) or Annual America the Beautiful Pass (recommend).
Amenities: A restroom is available at the trailhead. Be aware that there is no water, so you will need to bring your own (and plenty of it!).
Tips: Bring plenty of water, stock your backpack with a few snacks, avoid hiking during the heat of the day, and purchase an Annual Parks pass which is good at all Sedona trails as well as other national parks.