California woman falls 140 feet to her death while hiking on with husband, toddler in Sedona

Pictured is Zaynab Joseph, 40, and her 1-year-old child.
Pictured is Zaynab Joseph, 40, and her 1-year-old child.

A California woman died after falling down a 140-foot cliff while hiking on a difficult trail with her husband and 1-year-old child in Sedona, Arizona, authorities said.

Zaynab Joseph, 40, was found seriously injured by a group of hikers who stopped after hearing yelling along the Bear Mountain trail, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

While members of the group called 911, one of the hikers went down an embankment and found that Joseph was still breathing. She died shortly after, the sheriff's office said.

Joseph's husband and toddler were flown off the mountain in a helicopter, and Joseph's body was recovered, the department said.

Zaynab Joseph's family were renting an Airbnb in Sedona, sheriff's office says

Joseph and her family were renting an Airbnb in Sedona at the time of the incident, according to the department. The sheriff's office interviewed multiple hikers coming off the mountain, but the cause of the incident remains under investigation.

A spokesperson with the sheriff's office told USA TODAY on Wednesday that "nothing has been ruled out or concluded yet."

Bear Mountain trail in Sedona is considered hard

With about 2,000 feet of elevation in just over 2 miles to a peak, Bear Mountain trail in Sedona is listed as hard on the AllTrails hiking app.

"It's a rugged trail," the site says. "Some sections are on pure rock at an almost vertical drop. Wear shoes with good traction!"

Recent hikers on the trail report having to do some rock scrambling and encountering "quite steep" conditions.

The road leading to Bear Mountain is pictured in Sedona, Arizona on Feb. 17, 2021.
The road leading to Bear Mountain is pictured in Sedona, Arizona on Feb. 17, 2021.

More about Zaynab Joseph

Friends and family took to Facebook to remember the devoted mother of three young children.

“She had a heart of gold and was very dear to all of us,” wrote Farwa Azidi, who described Joseph as her sister, friend and confidant. “No words can describe the pain our families are going through, especially her husband and three young children.”

Leila Hassan wrote that Joseph was “a friend and a sister of my Islamic community.”

“The community is in shock,” she wrote. “Please keep her family in your prayers to get through this tough time.”

Joseph was “the most caring, supporting and nonjudgmental person you’ll ever meet,” wrote longtime friend Maryam Sadat. “Her girls are the smartest little ones I had ever spoken to and I’m shattered for their loss.”

A LinkedIn profile for Joseph lists her as a part-time teacher in Garden Grove, California, and says she went to college at the University of Toledo in northwestern Ohio.

In a Facebook post on Oct. 27, 2021, Joseph wrote: "Life is too short."

In the comments she elaborated: "It’s been crossing my mind. It always has actually. I think it shapes some of my personality."

Jonathan Limehouse covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach him at

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California woman dies on hike with husband, toddler in Sedona, Arizona