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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Make friends and influence tourists on AZ trails

Chicken Point

Blame the looming federal tax due date or the start of another baseball season, but this past Saturday, I found myself without a hiking partner.  We all know the mantra---"never hike alone", still, I simply HAD to hit the trails.  The solution---head out to a very popular trail and tell someone of my plans.  As the month of April is prime tourist season for Sedona, picking a busy route wasn’t too tough. Close to town and easy-to-find, Broken Arrow Trail is a perfect choice for tourists and locals looking for an easy trek with lots of company.  The trail parallels rugged 4x4 Broken Arrow Road, which is used by Sedona jeep tour companies and off-road enthusiasts alike, so be prepared to see them cross your path.  At the trailhead, I met two very nice guys visiting from the east coast who asked if they could tag along with me as they didn’t “get” the whole basket carin system of route-finding and worried about straying off on one of the unofficial bike routes that cross the main trail.  Actually, save for one confusing junction, the route is easy to follow, but I was happy to have someone to chat with during the hike. (We also “adopted” two ladies from New York for the return trip). In addition to its proximity to town, this hike comes highly recommended due to its ample supply of things to see along the way.  At the 0.6-mile point, there’s Devils Dining Room (not to be confused with Devil’s Kitchen) an impressive sinkhole inhabited by bats.  Next up is an optional side trip to Submarine Rock, a long sandstone formation a couple hundred feet below the main trail.  Soon, the route becomes a series of slick rock passages, each more scenic than the one before, until, just over that last weather worn red rock mound, the incredible vistas of Chicken Point cause a frenzy of “here-take-my-picture” moments.  From here, the trail connects with Chapel and eventually Little Horse trails if you want to add distance or do a car shuttle. However, we returned the way we came as my visiting travel companions had exhausted their camera batteries and were suffering from blissful visual overload.

Scene from the trail

LENGTH:  4.8 miles (including 1.4 mile side trip to Submarine Rock)
RATING:  easy
ELEVATION:  4280’ – 4630’
FEE: a Red Rock Pass is required. Daily, $5 daily, $15 weekly, $20 annually.

Slick rock ledge with Submarine Rock on left
From Phoenix, travel north on I17 to exit 298 for Sedona-Oak Creek AZ179.  Head west (go left) on AZ179 and continue to the Morgan Road traffic circle at milepost 312.  Turn right onto Morgan Road and drive 0.5 mile to the trailhead on the left.  Roads are paved up to the last 0.1 mile which is rough dirt, but passable by carefully driven sedans. 
INFO:  Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest 

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