Bobcats Canyon resides with many other technical drainages on Bear Mountain in Sedona. While it isn’t the flashiest canyon, or the one with the best views, it is super quick and easy to run, making it a great half-day choice if you’re honing your skills or are crunched for time.
🪢 This is a technical canyon with three to four rappels up to 200 feet. You will need a 200-foot rope, a 200-foot pull cord, plus all the required safety equipment for rappelling and knowledge how to use it. This guide is not intended to provide instruction on how to descend a technical canyon safely.
Bobcats Canyon is on the west side of what we lovingly refer to as the Mother Mountain- Bear Mountain. The day that we did it, it wasn’t our first choice on this mountain. Or our second choice. Or even our third choice. But we found ourselves in a situation where all of the canyons that we wanted to do on the north or north-east face were covered in layers upon layers (upon layers) of unexpected snow and ice. So we played it extra safe and bailed to Bobcats.
Where Bobcats Canyon shines: it is easy to access, the approach hike is completely on a trail, the rappels are pretty easy and straightforward, making it an excellent choice for beginners or kids, and you can get it done in a few short hours. It isn’t nearly as scenic as Grizzly. The raps aren’t as fun as Dillinger. The approach isn’t as exciting Sunbear. But if you want something quick or somewhere easy to practice skills, Bobcats is worthy.
Parking is at the Bear Mountain/Doe Mountain Trailhead, with the trail up Bear Mountain just across the street. Make your way up to the first bench, where you will veer off the trail to your left. It is unmarked as of now, so pay attention to the GPS as you make your way into a drainage.
The first rappel is from the bottom of a huge chokestone set several feet from the edge. It leads to a 55 foot freehanging rappel. If you pay attention to where you start, it’s not a terribly difficult start.
The second rappel is short- just about 20 feet- and sharply overhung. But again, if you find the right placement, the start isn’t too terribly tricky. Anchor is off of a tree RDC.
We downclimbed what we believed would be rappel 3 if the canyon is wet or flowing. We all kind of went a different way down this one. Some stayed directly in the drainage, others went to the far left or right. They all worked. Choose your own adventure here.
As you continue down canyon, you’ll hike down a really beautiful slick rock section. I loved this part. So Sedona. And if there was water flowing through there, this mellow canyon could get pretty exciting pretty quickly.
At the end of the slick rock, you’ll be at the fourth and final rappel. This is the longest rappel of the canyon by far, but it is super easy with just the last 20 or so feet overhanging. The anchor is DCR off of a boulder. If you have a 200 foot rope, trust me when I say it will take every inch of that to get you to the bottom. Don’t waste a lot of rope on the fiddlestick or whatever other method you’re using descend. (A fiddlestick is perfect for this rappel, because there is a good amount of loose rock that will come raining down on the pull if you aren’t careful.)
After that fun final rappel, continue to make your way down the drainage for a bit until it begins to open up to your left. Begin working your way back around the mountain. Resist the urge to beeline straight for the parking lot, as you will encounter several drainages that you have to climb up and down. If you stick closer to the mountain until you meet back up with Bear Mountain Trail, the going will be easier. Once you reach the trail, head back to your car, and decide what you’re going to do with the rest of your beautiful Sedona day.
Map & Directions
Location Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness, Sedona, AZ
Off of Boynton Pass Road, park at Bear Mountain Trailhead, the trail and approach start just across the street.
Trailhead Facilities There are restrooms at the trailhead. No water.
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