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Monday, May 4, 2015


The head of Wilson Canyon

Sedona's red rocks are famous for their beauty and soul soothing qualities. And, what they're also really good at is absorbing noise. This is especially apparent on the Jim Thompson and Wilson Canyon Trails where russet cliffs soak up the din of nearby Uptown Sedona and the bustling recreation sites at the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon. The well-marked route traces stoney ledges high above busy Highway 89A where a constant stream of cars and trucks can be seen (but not heard) rumbling across Midgley Bridge. Jim Thompson Trail jogs around the massive form of Steamboat Rock through a mix of cypress forests, sandy washes and exposed slick rock. As the trail snakes around vertical rock escarpments, the white limestone cliffs of Wilson Mountain soon come into view. Although there are two popular trails that lead to its summit, the lesser-used Wilson Canyon Trail---which begins at the far east end of the Jim Thompson Trail--- explores a deeply wooded gorge below the south face. The slender path makes a mostly easy, half-mile climb among scrub oak, cypress, juniper and occasional patches of cottonwood trees that inhabit moss embellished, spring-fed enclaves. To stay on course, look for basket carins where the trail crosses gullies and drainages. As the trail ascends, the canyon walls converge, echoing the sounds of dripping water and wild bird songs before ending in what appears to be a dead end. However, there's a primitive spur path for sure-footed hikers who want to make a short but very steep, 400-foot haul up to a secluded lookout point surrounded by soaring bluffs and whispering mountain breezes.
LENGTH: 7 miles roundtrip
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 4,390' - 4,920'
FEE: A Red Rock Pass is required. There's a self-serve pay station at the trailhead.
FACILITIES: restrooms, picnic tables
Jim Thompson Trailhead.
From the State Route 179/89A traffic circle in Sedona, go right onto 89A, drive 0.3 mile to Jordan Road on the left. Go 0.8 mile on Jordan Road, turn left onto Park Ridge Dr. and continue 0.5 mile to the trailhead on the right. The last half mile is on a gravel road with potholes but is suitable for all carefully driven vehicles.
INFO: Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 928-203-2900

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