Saturday, May 28, 2011
Steep hike to rim of Oak Creek Canyon
We dog lovers have always known that it’s the little breeds that catch you off guard and bite you in the shorts. Often delivering surprising energy, robust tenacity and pugnacious character, small breeds pack a lot of attitude into compact bodies. I’ve come to learn that this same observation can also apply to hiking trails. Case in point: Sedona’s Telephone Trail #72. For years, I avoided this trail because of its short length. Mistake.
A brisk, vertical ascent, demanding terrain and a couple of queasily-close-to-the-edge segments make this the Jack Russell terrier of Red Rock Country hikes.
The thigh-burning climb culminates at a bizarre row of rock “windows” overlooking Oak Creek Canyon making for a primo, adrenalin-charged photo opportunity.
Although the official trail ends at the 1.25-mile point, a maze of informal footpaths and old roads on the rim beckon further exploration. Those with good route-finding skills can use these “no-name” paths to connect with nearby Thomas Point, Harding Springs, and Cookstove Trails which also ascend the slopes over Highway 89A.
LENGTH: 2.5 miles round trip (on trail)
ELEVATION: 5,380 -6,380 feet
FEE: a Red Rock Pass ($5 daily fee per vehicle) is required to park along the road. These are available at the Oak Creek ranger station and most retail shops (like Circle K) in the Sedona area. NOTE: if you choose to park in any of the campgrounds along 89A---bring more cash, as most charge an additional $8-9 for this privilege.
From Phoenix, travel north on I17 to exit 298 (SR 179, Sedona-Oak Creek). Go west (left) on SR179 to the “Y” intersection with US89A in Sedona. Veer right (northeast) through the traffic roundabout and go 10.9 miles on 89A to milepost 385.1 and park in a turnout under a large cliff on the right. The trailhead is located roughly 100 yards up 89A on the right---look for a red-toned, metal sign on the embankment.
Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, (928) 282-4119
RED ROCK PASS PROGRAM: