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Monday, November 3, 2014


Cockscomb formation dominates the horizon


Taking off from a trailhead located less than a mile from busy Highway 89A in Sedona, the Girdner Trail has a surprisingly wild feel about it---if you give it about a mile. The first part of the hike shares space with the 0.2-mile, paved Centennial Trail that leads to an overlook area with big sky views of colorfully layered mesas and blood red rock spires floating over residential properties northwest of town. Trudging beyond this barrier-free gem, the trail boasts cypress-framed vistas of the russet sandstone Cockscomb formation before making a dive into the twisting gorge of Dry Creek where suburbia gets swallowed up in a frenzy of high desert trees and water-sculpted canyon walls.
Although the creek lives up to its "dry" name most of the time, the porous terrain retains enough groundwater and reflecting pools to support an enchanting forest of cottonwood, willow and sycamore trees that flaunt golden canopies from late October thought mid-November.  A walking stick is helpful as the trail makes many crossings of the boulder strewn creek bed.  Along the way, a short trek on a gas pipeline road and telephone line corridor reminds that civilization is not too far away. The trail ends at Dry Creek Road, however, multiple connecting trails in the "Cockscomb cluster" can be cobbled into endless day hike or backpacking trips. NOTE: trail signs are sparse and intersecting social trails can cause confusion.  Study the trailhead map before heading out.
LENGTH: 4.5 miles one way
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 4240'- 4600'
FEE: a Red Rock Pass is required
From the AZ89A/179 traffic circle in Sedona, head 4.2 miles west (left thru the circle) on 89A to Cultural Park Way (traffic signal). Turn right and continue 0.3-mile to the Cultural Park trailhead on the right. Trailhead has picnic tables and a map kiosk but no restrooms or water.
INFO & MAPS: Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 928-203-2900

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