Essence of Place – Little Horse Trail in Sedona


Sedona © 2014 Bo Mackison

For the second year in a row, I embarked on a thousand-mile circle trip of Arizona — it helps fine tune my driving stamina in anticipation of the cross-country drive to the Midwest in another month.

This year I had the good fortune to have a companion on the excursion. My younger daughter, visiting from Wisconsin, is an avid fan of National Parks and enthusiastically agreed to accompany me on a trip through the heart of Arizona while stopping at one National Park plus four National Monuments.

Our first stop was Sedona, not a National Park, but the surrounding red rock area certainly has the flavor of one and qualifies as a National Landscape Treasure if not an official park. These rock formations, the Madonna and Two Nuns, overlook the Chapel of the Holy Cross, pictured below.

Biking on Little Horse Trail

Biking on Little Horse Trail © 2014 Bo Mackison

Exploring the trails was our chief source of pleasure. We hiked the Little Horse, a wide trail once an old jeep trail. We crossed dry creek beds, though there was evidence of the recent rainfall – thick red mud and a variety of prints, some human, some not. The trail is a favorite not only of hikers, but cyclists also take to these hills.

Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Sedona

Chapel of the Holy Cross © 2014 Amanda Fahrenbach

Once we had walked a half mile, the Chapel of the Holy Cross comes into view, a modern structure that appears to be clinging to the red rock through spiritual intervention.


Yucca © 2014 Bo Mackison

Yucca are a common plant along the trail, reminding us that we are not far from the desert.

Indian Paintbrush on Little Horse Trail

Indian Paintbrush on Little Horse Trail © 2014 Bo Mackison

Scarlet Indian Paintbrush is a favorite flower, adding bright color, though we only spotted it in a few places. Usually we saw just one or two stalks of the bright orange stalks, so we stopped to take photos when we found a large stand of the wildflower in the brush of a downed tree.

The flowers of Indian paintbrush are edible, and were often mixed with fresh greens by southwestern Native American tribes. It was also used as a hair conditioner, a treatment for rheumatism, and an overall health tonic – an all-purpose plant!


Crossroads – Little Horse Trail and Llama Trail © 2014 Bo Mackison

A criss-cross of trails makes it doubly important to note the trail signs. Though Little Horse Trail is an easy hike, it leads into the wilderness area beyond Chicken Point. It’s always a good idea to have a map and plenty of water when hiking any of the red rock trails.

Little Horse Trail Sedona

Little Horse Trail, Sedona © 2014 Bo Mackison

Lots of red rock. Lots of blue skies with fast-moving clouds. Lots of Arizona cypress. And views of many of the more recognizable rock monuments. A great place to get in touch with the natural beauty of Sedona.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Gandalf says:

    Sounds like the first edition of your interesting travel log. 🙂 I look forward to the rest.

  2. I do love Sedona. Your photos and prose, and Amanda’s photo, brings it all back to me. We never hiked there, though. I’m sure your hikes gave you much more of a sense of the unique nature there than our trips. We just ate….and went shopping! …All noble pursuits, of course!

  3. Amazing landscape – would love to travel there – with my camara!

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