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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sedona fall color update: Nov. 4, 2012

Sycamores on Oak Creek, Nov. 4, 2012

Oak Creek, Nov. 4, 2012
Although the crowns of the sycamores and cottonwoods surrounding Oak Creek have turned to crispy brown toast, there’s still plenty delicious autumn color to be seen along Sedona’s favorite stream.  One way to get to the color quickly is to hike the Templeton Trail which can be accessed several ways including from Bell Rock Pathway (which takes you through 2 tunnels under SR179) and a road pull out at milepost 308.7 on SR 179.  However, since this is a fall color update, my hike takes off from the Cathedral Rock trailhead, which is closest to the water.  From the trailhead, follow a 0.3 mile access path along a combo of constructed rock stairs and slick red sandstone marked by basket cairns to the Cathedral Rock/Templeton junction sign.  Straight ahead is a short (0.4 mile), semi-technical rock scramble leading to two nice vista points----optional, but not this hike.  Instead, head right and follow Templeton, which clings to a rugged, yucca cluttered slope.  After about a half-mile, the path swerves for first views of Oak Creek and its flood plains.  Here, the route makes an easy but edgy descent to the forested color frenzy along the waterway. A kaleidoscope of massive  sycamore, cottonwood, of alder, sumac, willow, walnut and countless shrubs (beware of poison ivy) glow like beacons among cypress and junipers with a backdrop of rusty cliffs to boot.  Along the next half-mile, the trail stays by the water exposing countless root tangled coves and shady spots to relax in this high-desert oasis.
overlooking Oak Creek
LENGTH:  3.4 miles one way
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION:  3970’ – 4330’
FEE: a Red Rock Pass is required.  There’s a permit kiosk at the trailhead that takes cash and plastic.  Daily fee is $5.
From Phoenix, travel north on I17 to exit 298 for Sedona  SR179.  Go left (west) and follow SR179 11 miles to Back O’ Beyond Road at the traffic circle near milepost 310.  Veer left and go 0.6 mile on Back O’ Beyond to the Cathedral Rock trailhead on the left.
INFO: Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 928-203-2900

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