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Thursday, October 13, 2011


Red Rock Secret Canyon Wilderness, Sedona

Although not apparent from the trailhead, the remote upper reaches of Bear Sign Trail host surprisingly rich woodlands of deciduous trees that transform into a canopy of color in early autumn. To find these hidden thickets, hike on the juniper-and-scrub-lined Dry Creek Trail to the Bear Sign junction, veer left and pick up the trail heading uphill. Much of the path parallels boulder-filled ravines lined with sycamore, willows and cottonwoods eking out a living where water collects among gigantic bounders. Throughout the hike, haphazard webs of Canyon grape vines sprawl in viral abundance forming delicate veils of diffused sunlight. An especially photo-worthy section of the route passes through a concentrated stand of Arizona cypress trees. The spindly trunks and shaggy bark of this tenacious species are marred by claw marks, scat and gnawed stumps-- the “bear signs” for which the trail is named. No worries though, the black bears that roam this area are shy creatures and will usually skulk off unnoticed when roused by approaching hikers. To learn more about hiking in bear country, visit: Southwest Be Bear Aware:

LENGTH: 3.5 miles one way
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 4,800 -5,450 feet
KID FRIENDLY?: sorta. Trail is rocky and you have to hike 2 miles before getting to the best color, some kids might melt down.
From the "Y" intersection of AZ 179 and AZ89A in Sedona go left (toward Cottonwood) and continue 3.2 miles to Dry Creek Road. Turn right, go 2 miles to Vultee Arch Road (Forest Road 152), hang a right and continue 4.5 miles to the Dry Creek #52 trailhead located past the Vultee Arch parking loop 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

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