A short, easy hike along the bottom of Sterling Canyon. The drainage is dry most of the year. Shade is available, but it would be wise to carry some water in the warm months.
The signed trailhead is on the east side of the parking area. The well maintained trail almost immediately enters Wilderness and climbs gradually in the shade of Arizona cypress beside a dry stream bed on the floor of Sterling Canyon. There are occasional views of red rock formations to the left and of the sheer walls of Lost Wilson Mountain on the right. After .75 miles, the trail enters stands of ponderosa pine and oak which show the scars from the 1996 “Arch” fire. Nearing the 1.75 mile point, there is a marked fork. Sterling Pass Trail branches off to the right. Keep left and continue 100 yards where the trail ends at a large red rock outcrop. There are nice views of the canyon, mountains and of Vultee Arch, about .25 miles the north.
The trail dead ends at a bronze plaque placed in memorium for Gerard and Sylvia Vultee who lost their lives in an aircraft crash on January 29, 1938. The actual crash site is more than a mile north and at a much higher elevation, on East Picket Mesa. On the north side of the canyon across from the plaque is the sandstone arch named for Vultee, an early aircraft designer from California. Just before the plaque site there is a junction with the Sterling Pass Trail which continues over into Oak Creek Canyon. Return by the same route for a a 3.5 mile hike.
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A leisurely stroll through shady forest, great on a hot summer’s day. Some nice views all along the way.