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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sedona fall color update: Oct. 13, 2012

West Fork of Oak Creek: Oct. 13, 2012

Now that autumn's first freeze and snowfall have snuffed Flagstaff's aspen show, Arizona's annual fall foliage spectacular has migrated  south into Red Rock Country.  Brilliant color is blooming now in Sedona’s most famous canyon.  Today, we hiked under a canopy of blaze-red maples, tawny oaks and boxelders dripping in honey gold.  But, there’s still plenty of green getting ready to turn, so it looks like (frosty weather not withstanding) this week will be primo for autumn color. The rocky, but easy trail  is packed with 13 creek crossings (...that's 26 for a roundtrip hike) on stepping stones and logs. Shoes with good traction are a must and a trekking pole is helpful.  Also, plan to arrive early at the trailhead or else be prepared to wait for parking, as this world-celebrated trek attracts thousands of casual walkers (who rarely go more than a mile), day hikers and hard core canyoneers.  We even encountered a wedding party in full regalia---and hiking boots!

Oct. 13, 2012
LENGTH:  3.3 miles one-way (on trail) OR up to 14 miles (with wading, swimming & climbing)
ELEVATION:  5,280’ – 5,520’
RATING:  easy (on trail), moderate –difficult beyond trail’s end
From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to exit 298 (Oak Creek-Sedona) for SR 179.  Go left (west) on SR179 and continue to the “Y” intersection with SR89A in Sedona.  Veer right (northeast) on 89A and go 10.5 miles to the Call of the Canyon Day Use Area (between mileposts 384 & 385) on the left (west) side of the road.  Roads are 100% paved.
Green woodland starting to turn, Oct. 13, 2012
FEE: $9 daily fee per vehicle. $2 per-person-daily-fee for walk-in or bike-in.
HOURS:  9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (summer), 9 a.m. to dusk (winter). The gate usually opens around 8 a.m.. Use the self-pay kiosk if an attendant is not available. The parking lots fills up quicky on weekends and high seasons---so arrive early.
INFO: Coconino National Forest, Red Rock Ranger District

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