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Saturday, October 22, 2011


Fall color is arriving later than usual along the US 89A strip of Oak Creek this year. Although we found sprigs of blazing red sumac and some nice golden sycamores, willows and common hop trees, peak color has yet to arrive. The next couple of weeks will be splendid. 
Crossing Oak Creek--you WILL get wet

Arizona sycamore
Ever drive up US89A to the spot near Grasshopper Point and Midgley Bridge?  Yup—it's a madhouse, especially in autumn when the sycamores, cottonwoods and willows lining Oak Creek take on gorgeous tawny hues.  Swarms of visitors scramble for coveted parking spots along this scenic and precipitous curve in US89A in order to hike, bike or simply take in the views from the road.  An alternative way to get to the sweet color spots under the bridge with (somewhat) less congestion is to begin hiking three miles downstream at the Schnebly Hill trailhead and follow the Huckaby Trail to the creek.
This relatively new trail (est. 1998) starts out in classic Sedona, yucca-and-cypress-studded, high-desert terrain, then dips into the shady, riparian corridor of Oak Creek Canyon via a series of moderately challenging twists and turns.  Near the 2.3-mile point, the route meets the creek where you’ll have to rock-hop or do a knee-deep wade to the west bank in order to complete the final 0.3-mile  uphill leg to US89A and the north end of Midgley Bridgley.

LENGTH:  5.2 miles roundtrip
RATING:  moderate
ELEVATION:  4,500' – 4,300'
FACILITIES: Huckaby Trailhead: restroom, picnic tables.  None at Midgely Bridge trailhead.
FEE: A Red Rock Pass is required: $5 daily fee per vehicle. The permit kiosk at Huckaby trailhead was not working on 10-22-11.  That's why it's smart to purchase your pass at  local vendors like Circle-K, cuz, the trailhead kiosks seldom work (at least in my experience). We also saw a ranger checking windshields for passes today. Check out this link to learn more about the Red Rock Pass Program:
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 125 mile one-way
From Phoenix, go  north on I-17 to exit 298 (SR179 for Sedona-Oak Creek).  At the bottom of the offramp, turn left (west) and follow SR179 to Schnebly Hill Road in Sedona, located at the  traffic circle/bridge over Oak Creek (and before the Talaquepaque center).  Veer right thru the traffic circle, and go 0.8 mile  on Schnebly Hill Road to the trailhead (signed for Margs Draw, Munds Wagon and Huckaby) on the left.  Roads are 100% paved.
From I-17, follow SR179 to the “Y” junction with US89A in Sedona. Veer right through the traffic circle and go 1.9 miles north on 89A to the parking area on the northwest side (left) of the bridge.  The trail begins under the bridge.  Roads are 100% paved.

INFO: Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 928-282-4119


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