Friday, September 1st, 2017
I came across this trail while studying Hikernut’s Canyon Lands Companion on the flight down to Phoenix. The book was a “shelf-warming” gift for our friends who recently purchased a getaway home in Sedona. The author of the book describes 60+ hikes in the book, but only twelve are marked with a special star designation, and this trail was one of those. I assumed it was a good thing.
It turned out to be a great thing! The trail and surroundings were such a welcome variation from the usual Sedona regional diet of red rocks and heat (not that I don’t love that, too.) It was about 7 miles out and back, although our GPS showed we covered a bit over 8 miles with side explorations and photo opportunities. We stayed cool and comfortable, as most of the hike is done in shaded canyons, forest, and along the creek.
The trail crosses Oak Creek (West Fork) many times, but at the 3.6 mile mark the trail terminates into the creek itself inside of a wash with steep, high walls. This marks the turnaround point for most day hikers.
To go beyond that point one must slog into the river (which I did anyways). That whole section seemed very reminiscent of Little Colorado travel where so much time is spent in the water itself. I went a couple hundred yards past the turnaround, and it was sublime. There are campsites a few miles further in and the scenery out there was some of my favorite of the day. I would definitely be interested in continuing the trail through the river and camping in what lies beyond.
This hike was also the first true test of my new Sigma 24-70mm lens. I had it out for the eclipse but was reliant on my Rokinon 24mm prime that day for the most part. It was sharp and fast and I had fun using a zoom lens for once, but man, that thing is heavy.