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Saturday, September 18, 2010

SECRET CANYON TRAIL

SECRET CANYON TRAIL #121 Red Rock Secret Canyon Wilderness, Sedona A community of pinion pines, juniper and assorted cactuses at the trailhead belie what lies ahead on Secret Canyon Trail. Epic views of Sedona’s red rock landscape dominate the first 1.75 miles of this hike before the trail makes a sharp westward swerve at the mouth of the canyon. From here, the route leaves the shade-less chaparral plunging into a streambed where torrential spring water runoff and blowing dust have carved bizarre sculptures in the sandstone escarpments flanking the path. Residual pools of water stand at the bases of moisture-hungry cottonwoods with heart-shaped, lemony leaves. Near the 5-mile point, the trail enters “the narrows”, a series of slick-rock corridors hemmed in by a vertical fortification of sandstone with clusters of blood-red maples and rusty-orange oaks bursting from the rubble-strewn canyon floor. Beyond this point, the trail degrades into a quagmire of scree and undergrowth which is why most hikers make the narrows their turnaround point. However, those with good route-finding skills can opt to scramble, squeeze and scoot along a sketchy footpath for another half-mile. LENGTH: 5.5 miles one-way RATING: difficult ELEVATION: 4,500 – 5,100 feet DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 134 miles BEST SEASONS: September - May BEST TIME FOR FALL COLOR: mid-October, For weekly reports, call the Forest Service Fall Color Hotline, 1-800-354-4595 or visit.fs.fed.us/r3/recreation/fall-colors/fall.shtml GETTING THERE; From the “Y” intersection of AZ 179 and AZ 89A in Sedona, go left (toward Cottonwood) on 89A for 3.2 miles to Dry Creek Road. Turn right and go 2 miles to Vultee Arch Road (Forest Road 152). Turn right and follow FR 152 3.4 miles to the trailhead on the left. A high clearance vehicle is required on FR 152. FEE: Red Rock Pass--$5 per vehicle is required INFO: Coconino National Forest, Red Rock District 928-203-2900 http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/recreation/red_rock/secret-canyon-tr.shtml MAP: http://www.redrockcountry.org/maps/map-graphics/red-rock-map-9-05.pdf

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