Friday, September 19, 2008
LOY CANYON TRAIL Secret Mountain Wilderness The cattle are gone, but the dirt track that was constructed in the 1890s to move them to the cooler Mogollon Rim to escape the summer heat, remains. August is the best month to hike the Loy Canyon Trail because that’s when creek-side wild grapes and raspberries lace the surrounding high desert terrain with a smattering of violet accents. Most of the soft, sandy trail is shaded by cottonwoods, pines and thickets of red-barked manzanilla. Elevation gains gradually over the first four miles where brilliant wild flowers and sweet-smelling grasses attract swarms of hummingbirds and butterflies. After that, though, the going gets rough, as the trail climbs up a sandstone ridge to the top of a beautiful knoll that overlooks the old cattle haunts a thousand feet below. LENGTH: 9 miles round-trip RATING: Moderate ELEVATION GAIN: 1,700 feet GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, drive north on I-17 to the Highway 179 exit. Go left on Highway 179 into the town of Sedona. At the famous Sedona “Y” intersection, turn left onto Highway 89A toward Cottonwood. Continue for 9.6 miles on Highway 89A to Red Canyon Road (FR 525) and turn right. Follow FR 525 for another 3.7 miles to the trailhead. FEE: A Red Rock Pass ($5 daily fee per vehicle) is required to park. Passes are available at most retail stores in town.