Sedona, Arizona (Coconino) Technical Rating: 2-4
Last Updated: 04-14-2016
Hot Loop Highlights
Hot Loop Off-road 4x4 Trail is a collection of rocky forest roads that offers some moderate off-road challenges. It combines thick forest areas, meadows, rock littered roads, primitive camping areas, and a handful of spots with amazing scenic views.
The name comes from the hiking trail of the same name that starts in Oak Creek and peaks at Jacks Canyon Road. A portion of Jacks Canyon Road is the Southern section of the Hot Loop Off-road 4x4 Trail. Jacks Canyon Road also heads further South, and can be explored as an optional side trail; unfortunately, it no longer goes through to The Village of Oak Creek, parallel to Hot Loop Hiking Trail.
Whether you are on an overland adventure through the area, or staying for the weekend, if you want a great isolated camping spot, on top of Schnebly Hill, this is the place to be.
Technical rating: (2-4) Easy
Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves but rocks to 9". Water crossings usually less than hub deep. Passable mud. Grades moderate, up to 15 degrees. Side hill moderate up to 15 degrees. 4WD under most conditions. No width problems, vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.
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Directions to Trailhead
The Hot Loop Off-road 4x4 trail can only be accessed from Schnebly Hill Road. From Sedona, you'll need to drive up to the Schnebly Hill Vista Overlook, where you can get on Hot Loop from the nearby 153A trailhead. Otherwise, you can continue down Schnebly Hill Road another 2.1 miles to the 801 forest road. If you are coming from I-17, take the Schnebly Hill Road exit #320 and head West 3.6 miles to the 801 trail, or 5.6 miles to the 153A trail. Either way, you'll want to air down and put your vehicle into 4-wheel-drive as soon as you get onto Schnebly Hill Road.
This off-road trail is a combination of a handful of rocky 4wd dirt forest roads - some parts are rockier than others - with potential for some muddy areas; weather permitting. These connected forest roads create Hot Loop - named after the hiking trail that reaches its peak in this area - and connects to Schnebly Hill Road at forest roads 801 and 153A. A better name for this trail might be Schnebly Hill Loop, as it loops around Schnebly Hill as well as the KQST-FM radio tower. One section is a thick forest area where you are guaranteed to get some natural Arizona Pinstriping on your rig while doing some mild rock crawling. There are also plenty of other connecting four-wheel drive trails in the area for additional exploration opportunities, and locations to get up-close to the cliffs overlooking Sedona and Oak Creek. These locations offer amazing views of the famous red rock formations found throughout the valley. Starting at FR 801 will allow you to be going west and downhill on the most challenging part of the trail, with the most scenic area ahead of you; giving you a nice reward for getting through this bumpy collection of forest roads.
1: Hot Loop Trailhead (0.0mi)
From Schnebly Hill road, you'll turn South onto FR 801 to start the Hot Loop Off-road 4x4 trail. While this trail is closed during winter months, it may still be muddy during other times of the year; especially after a heavy rain.
2: Big Rut (0.2mi)
This spot is a good sign of the trail being muddy at certain times of the year. You'll also find a lot of short side roads to the West of the trail that are meant for use for the camping spots along FR 801.
3: Pond Tank (0.4mi)
Here you'll find a pond to the East of the trail. The forest service likes to refer to these as tanks. This one does not appear to be named.
5: 9460T intersection 801 (0.9mi)
Head South (left) onto 9460T to continue on Hot Loop, or optionally you can stay on 801 heading West (straight) which can be a bit of a short-cut.
6: Tight Turn (1.2mi)
There's an S-curve at this point. It's not too bad, but might be difficult for long wheelbase vehicles.
8: 9499G intersection 9460T (1.5mi)
This is a sharp turn to the West or North depending on which direction you are coming from. You can also see Fox Tank from FR 9499G just West of this intersection. 9460T continues to head South, which you can take to some camping spots, and a scenic view before returning to continue west.
9: 801 intersection 9499G (2.0mi)
Continue heading West which is now FR 801 (or East on 9499G - unless you really like the northbound FR 801 shortcut). From this point West, for about the next mile, you are on what is known as Jacks Canyon Road ( http://www.trailsoffroad.com/trails/1461-jacks-canyon-road ).
10: Big Ruts (2.1mi)
The road has some erosion from mud at this point. Still it's not difficult for a stock vehicle to get through when it's dry.
11: Rocky Steps (2.3mi)
There's some rocky yet small steps at this point. Nothing a stock vehicle couldn't handle as long as it has decent clearance.
12: Stumpy Rocks (2.6mi)
More Rocky Steps at this spot, but with a big section cut out of a tree in the middle of it.
13: 801, 9495F, and 9496F Intersection (2.9mi)
Stay on the East/West direction trails (801/9495F) at this intersection. FR 801 ends/start at this point with Jacks Can Road heading west along 9495F. 9496F veers off to the South heading to the rime with scenic views. You may also see a pond (or a dry recess) on the South of 9495F near this intersection.
14: Curvey Rocks (3.0mi)
There's a slight curve in this area with some rocks to contend with, but nothing too difficult.
15: 9495F intersection 9494F (3.1mi)
If you are heading West stay to the right. If you are heading East, stay straight. This intersection can seem a little confusing as two of the trail markers are exactly the same. What you are seeing is the point were 9495F ends (or starts) and Jacks Canyon Road continues South onto 9494F. However, 9494F also continues West, and the angel of the intersection can make it a little difficult to understand which direction to go, or why this "V" has the same FR number on both sides. Heading South on Jacks Can Road will take you to the Hot Loop Hiking trail, and Jacks Canyon.
16: Meadow (3.2mi)
There's a nice flower meadow in this area. Nothing extraordinary, but still nice. It's a good spot for lunch.
17: Big Rocks (3.3mi)
This spot is the start/end of a half mile of tight and rocky areas, with larger rocks that require some decent clearance to navigate. If heading West, you'll be going downhill through these areas. In some spots, you'll have to choose between climbing over some big rocks, or running into a tree or two; making it the most challenging part of Hot Loop Off-road Trail. It's even more difficult if you're heading East as you'll be going up-hill.
18: Gate - 9494F (3.9mi)
This spot is the start/end of a half mile of tight and rocky areas, with larger rocks that require some decent clearance to navigate. If heading East, you'll be going uphill as you battle these areas, potentially making it more difficult. In some spots, you'll have to choose between climbing over some big rocks, or contending with a tree or two; making it the most challenging part of Hot Loop Off-road Trail.
19: 153A intersection 9494F (4.1mi)
Head West from here to take the very scenic half of the Rocky Sidewinder / FR153A or South for Hot Loop Off-road 4x4 Trail. While Hot Loop technically includes the FR 153A trail, it's also documented separately as a connected trail. 153A also heads East from here, but that direction is not typically considered to be a part of Hot Loop. Still either direction on FR 153A will get you back to Schnebly Hill Road.
This area is closed during the Winter - Dec 15 - Apr 1 - to prevent erosion as the trail can get snow and become very wet and muddy. It may also be closed at other times of year when there's inclement weather in the area. Check with the Coconino Forest Service for updates.
Camping and Lodging
You can camp at any of the dispersed camping sites you'll find along this trail, and along the connecting trails. There are also hotels in nearby Sedona and less primitive camping a dozen miles away off I-17 in Munds Park.
Questions & AnswersNo questions have been submitted.
Offroaded on 04-14-2016
Low Temperature: 45° F
High Temperature: 78° F
I attempted to take Hot Loop all the way around, but run into a couple of road blockages. The first was along 9460T just after the cattle guard at way point 7. This fallen tree blocked the road sufficiently to where I had to turn around and take the 801 all the way through instead. The second was a large broken off tree branch between waypoints 12 and 13, but tire marks around it showed that someone else had already gone around just off to the side of the trail so I did likewise. I'd fully expect the forest service to eventually clear the road of these fallen trees, and the rest of the trail was basically unchanged other then some of the bigger rocks seeming a bit more exposed.
Offroaded on 10-03-2015
Low Temperature: 55° F
High Temperature: 88° F
On this warm sunny day, taking Hot Loop Off-road 4x4 Trail was a great adventure. The dirt was dry, and the cool breeze kept the hot sun at bay. It was a fun day trip that took about four hours only because of frequent stopping to take pictures. The most menacing part of the trail was the decline after the end of Jacks Can Trail heading towards 153A were the forest trees thickened up, and the loose rocks peaked and their biggest sizes.