Sunday, April 21, 2013

The West Fork of Oak Creek

Sedona's Perfect Family Hike

Sedona is 2 hours away from America's 6th largest metropolis. This results in a sometimes overwhelming hoard of visiting Phoenicians. 

In winter they seek the magic of snow dusting Sedona's red rocks. In summer Sedona spells immediate relief from America's most extreme metro-urban heat sink.

Of course what Phoenicians also find are overpriced hotel rooms, a lot of good (and some not-so-great but frequently very jammed) restaurants, crowded narrow streets filled with shops pitching candles, t-shirts, art glass, crystals, and made in China kokopellis.

But, the good news is that the real Sedona is still there. You just have to venture away from the roadways and wear good shoes.

A wonderful easy hike for families is the West Fork of Oak Creek in the Coconino National Forest. It is a 9 miles miles north on 89A. It is Sedona's most popular trail (for good reason.) It is served by a parking lot that fills up early. The daily fee is $9 / car (includes 5 hikers) or if you walk in the fee is $2 per hiker. A couple of $40 annual passes are also available covering all of Sedona's various trails.

The west fork trail starts with a bridge over the creek. It then meanders past an old apple orchard (which was blooming this week) and the ruins of an original homestead. The trail then moves into the deep slot canyon. The trail is easy and well marked. There are numerous places where you must cross the creek so water shoes are a good choice. Bring sunscreen and snacks, and (in summer), maybe a swim suit under hiking shorts to enjoy the cool spring water. The developed trail takes you about 3 miles in the canyon (so 6 miles round trip.) The actual trail runs 14 miles, but much of that is in wilderness areas where the trail is simply a walk (sometimes a swim!) in the creek.

In summer there is a lot of poison oak along the way, so beware.

Remnants From the Homestead 

Zane Grey's Inspiration for "The Call of the Canyon"
(It is Hard Not to Look Up)

A Great Slide Rock 
(A Great Stop WIth Kids, About a Mile In)

Lots of Fragrant Pines
(A Friend Clued Me In - The Bark Smells Like Butterscotch!)  

Crystal Clear Water

This is a hike that is just made for families. Go and enjoy! Phoenicians can leave home by 8:00 am, drive, hike, and easily be home in time for dinner. 

Of course if you can spend a day or two hiking and perhaps camping, well thats even better!

Roadboy's Travels © 2013

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