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Saturday, April 3, 2010

TURKEY CREEK

TURKEY CREEK Coconino National Forest Ain’t no turkeys, ain’t no creek---at least most of the time. Yet, for what this trail lacks in terms of running water and wild fowl--it more than makes up for in scenery and geological interest. The trek starts out on a wide, closed road with numerous unmarked junctions and side paths. To stay on track, be sure to follow the piles of rocks wrapped in wire known as “basket cairns”. If you loose your way, just backtrack to the last cairn and spot the next one to correct your bearings. At roughly the 1.5-mile point, the trail passes Turkey Tank, a tiny cottonwood-ringed oasis. From here, the route begins its gradual climb along a juniper and cypress shaded path to the rim of House Mountain volcano. On the way up, views of Red Rock country get progressively better with the piece de resistance occurring on a scenic saddle where views of Sedona, Mingus Mountain and the gaping, eroded volcanic vent collide for an overwhelming carnival of visual delights. LENGTH: 7 miles out-and-back RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 4,000 – 5,100 feet BEST SEASONS: September - May DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 125 miles one-way FEE: a Red Rock Pass is required---$5 daily fee per vehicle. http://www.redrockcountry.org/passes-and-permits/index.shtml GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to the Sedona exit 298 for SR 179 North—located just north of Camp Verde. Turn left and follow AZ 179 to Verde Valley School Road---this turnoff (part of a traffic circle) will be on the left past milepost 306 across from the Jacks Canyon Road sign---the street sign is difficult to see when traveling north. Go west on Verde Valley School Road 4 miles to Forest Road 9216B where there’s a sign for Turkey Creek trailhead. From here, the road degrades from decent dirt to a rut-and-pot-hole riddled mess. However, just before the road turns bad, there’s a small parking area for those driving low-slung sedans. Park here and hike another half-mile to the signed trailhead. Those with high-clearance vehicles may opt to drive this miserable last half-mile to the parking circle. INFORMATION: Red Rock Ranger District http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/recreation/red_rock/turkey-creek-tr.shtml, (928) 282-4119 MORE PHOTOS: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=19259&id=1795269672

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