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Monday, February 27, 2017

WOODS CANYON TRAIL #93

WOODS CANYON TRAIL #93

Sedona
The sandstone "beach"
Hiking during springtime snow melt season is one of Arizona’s most remarkable experiences. During this brief period, water rushes through desert washes and normally dry creek beds with an urgency tantamount to the panic hikers feel when trying to hit all the best water-themed trails before the cascades die out.  In Sedona, the well-known trails that wind around Oak Creek, Dry Creek and their watersheds are easy-access crowd favorites. But few venture into the isolated domain of Woods Canyon where the ordinarily parched groove of Dry Beaver Creek runs wild for several months each year. One of the best ways to enjoy the transient water works is to take a hike on the Wood Canyon Trail #93.
Dry Beaver Creek
This trek starts with a short walk through a lush, riparian exclosure with an easy creek crossing before emerging in an airy, savannah-like high desert. Yucca-embellished grasslands dominate the first two miles of the hike. The red-earth path climbs gently, morphing from a wide two-track to slim footpaths in the shadow of Horse Mesa. At the 2.3-mile point, the trail enters Munds Mountain Wilderness and begins its descent to the creek bed. Over the next 1.2 miles, canyon walls close in and the trail ducks in and out of oak-juniper woodlands with a couple more creek hops and a traverse of an edgy-ledgy shelf above the water. The highlight of the hike is a sandstone “beach” that appears at the 3.5-mile point. Mounds of water-scoured russet stone slouch into the creek like melted taffy.
Oak-juniper-cypress forest along the trail
This scenic, sycamore-cluttered spot at the juncture of Woods and Rattlesnake Canyons features rushing rapids, swirling eddies and still pools that reflect the rusty edifices and charcoal volcanic cap rock of the surrounding mesas. The trail is reasonably easy to follow for about another mile but you’ll need some high-end route-finding skills to make it all the way to where the trail dead-ends at 5.25 miles. 
Arizona sycamore thrive along the creek
LENGTH:  5.3 miles one-way (trail degrades after 4 miles)
RATING:  moderate
ELEVATION:  3890’ – 4310’
GETTING THERE:
From Phoenix, travel north on Interstate 17 to the Sedona-Oak Creek exit 298. Go left (west) on State Route 179 and continue 8.5 miles to the turn off for the Red Rock Ranger District Station on the right.  The trailhead is located within the ranger station complex in the south (lower) lot where a small metal sign indicates the start point.
High desert plants along Trail #93
INFO & MAPS:
Coconino National Forest


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