Sunday, September 28, 2008
The cool spring water that gurgles to the surface year-round in the lower portion of Sycamore Canyon attracts a motley crew of outdoor enthusiasts. Popular with the locals and out-of-towners alike, you are bound to run into hikers, backpackers, bird watchers, rambunctious kids, ecstatic Labrador retrievers and the occasional group of skinny dippers. Most of the commotion ends after the first mile where the going gets a bit too rough for casual visitors. The trail begins with a steep, 300-foot descent into the canyon (remember this for the way back) and is marked by a series of sometimes hard-to-find carins made of river rock wired into 50-gallon drum-size cylinders. Rains and floods change the terrain frequently, so it's smart to pay attention along the route which includes numerous creek-crossings. Dense riparian vegetation, including wild grapes, holly, squash and cattails, flourishes in the moist sandy soil around the seep areas and springs. There are several deep pools, suitable for swimming an done of the best is nestled in a beautiful cover surrounded by limestone ledges under a canopy of sycamore and walnut trees.
LENGTH: 7.4 miles round trip
ELEVATION GAIN: 300 feet
From Phoenix, go north on I-17 for 90 miles to exit 287 (Highway 260). Go west on Hwy. 260
to the town of Cottonwood. From there, go straight through town on Main St and Broadway (aka Highway 89A) following the signs to Tuzigoot National Monument. Turn right onto thesighed Road to Tuzigoot and continue for less than a half-mile, cross the Verde River Bridge and then take the first left onto Sycamore Canyon Road (CR 139). The road turns into maintained dirt and merges with FR 131. Continue on FR 131 for 10.5 miles to the trailhead.