Jim Thompson Trail Fast Facts
Length: 5 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 540 ft.
Type: Out and Back
Dogs: Yes, on a leash
Approximate time to hike: ~3 hours
Red Rock Pass: Required.
Parking:Jim Thompson Trailhead
Local tip: There are actually two trailheads for Jim Thompson Trail. The first is the Jim Thompson Trailhead mentioned above, and the second is located at Midgley Bridge.
About Jim Thompson Trail
Jim Thompson Trail is one of the easiest trails to hike in Red Rock Country, and can be easily completed by hikers of all skill levels and ages. If you’re looking for a nice and easy hike with children or older adults that still covers a good distance, Jim Thompson Trail is one of the best choices in Sedona! The trail offers ample shade in the beginning, but the majority of the trail is full sun so be sure to bring sun protection and plenty of water. The trail is very well-marked, so if you’re new to hiking in Sedona, this is a great way to get your feet wet.
Hiking Jim Thompson Trail
Jim Thompson Trail is an easy trail located less than 5 minutes from Uptown Sedona, making it a super accessible trail for the whole family. Its close proximity to town means that you can actually see Sedona from parts of the trail, but this doesn’t detract at all from the natural beauty of Red Rock Country. Red and white rock surround you as you hike through Jim Thompson Trail, which features beautiful wild flowers, greenery, and even some wildlife.
The hike gets a bit more difficult once you reach the base of Steamboat Rock and approach the high point of the trail at 4,770 feet. From here, you’ll be able to see into Uptown Sedona as well as Jerome and Mingus Mountain. The trail wraps around Steamboat Rock’s eastern side and follows along a road built by the trail’s namesake, Jim Thompson himself. He built the road to connect his home in Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona. The trail continues on for 15 minutes or so until you reach an overlook with Wilson Canyon and Wilson Mountain looming in the distance. This is where most people turn around and head back, although some people choose to continue on down into the canyon. If you choose to continue, you’ll switch back a few times, cross over, and finally connect with the Wilson Mountain Trail.
Quick Tips to Hike Jim Thompson Trail
- There isn’t much shade on this trail, so be sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection.
- Make sure that you wear the proper shoes depending on how the weather has been. If the trail is wet, you’ll definitely want proper hiking boots to trek through the mud.
- This is a great trail to bring your dogs on, but make sure you bring plenty of water for them. There isn’t much shade, and they can get tired out pretty fast under the Sedona sun.
Jim Thompson Trail History
Jim Thompson Trail was built by Jim Thompson himself in the year 1887. He was the first settler in Oak Creek in 1876, and built the trail to connect his two properties in Oak Creek and Sedona. Jim Thompson is a prominent figure in Sedona’s history, and was a founding member of the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club.
Photo courtesy of the Thompson Brothers Photo Collection at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.