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Monday, May 1, 2017

THOMAS POINT TRAIL #142

THOMAS POINT TRAIL #142
Oak Creek Canyon viewed from Thomas Point Trail
West Fork, West Fork, West Fork!  Like a beleaguered middle sister who covets the attention lavished upon her prettier sibling, Thomas Point Trail suffers in uncelebrated fabulousness.  Both routes share Sedona's Call of the Canyon trailhead, so why is one so precious and the other not so much?  It’s probably because Sedona’s dramatic West Fork Trail, is the glitter-dusted flying unicorn whereas Thomas Point Trail is more like a pack horse hauling an apple cart.  But if you appreciate the kind of trek that holds its treasures in remote, thorny places-- this is your trail.
The lower part of the trail runs through pine-oak woodlands
Back in the days before the completion of State Route 89A and Interstate 17, the journey between Flagstaff and Sedona was made on ridiculously steep and precarious routes like Thomas Point Trail. The aggressively vertical path is one of four that climb to the top of the east walls of Oak Creek Canyon. The other trails are Telephone, Harding Springs and Cookstove. Built by the Thomas Family in the 1890s, the trail served as part of a horse and wagon transport network.
Today, horses and bikes are not allowed on it, and you’ll understand why at about the half-mile point. The foot traffic only rule might be one reason why the trail gets little use.
The route’s lung-busting ascent, vertigo-inducing edges and short length are also deterrents. But, hold off on the “meh”. Whether done in combination with its celebrated big sis or as a solo out-and-back, this is one you’ll be happy you did not pass up.
The upper trail is exposed to sun & drop offs
The mile-long unrelenting climb, begins in a shaded pine-oak forest but soon curves around a notch in the cliffs to head east along a slim path that’s exposed to both the sun and precipitous drop offs above Oak Creek Canyon. This is not a good choice for acrophobics because there are some spots where the rough-hacked trail kisses the edge.
Western Wallflower blooms March - September
The steepest parts of the trail pass through a chaparral zone with yucca and cacti clinging to crumbling limestone escarpments. 
Upper trail
Near the top, sharp turns, high-step maneuvers and sketchy segments require some route-finding skills. While watching your step and scratching your head, don’t forget to soak up the carousel of vistas that unwind on the way up. Look for views of the coniferous greenery of Secret Mountain Wilderness, crimson sandstone strips of Slide Rock State Park and the bristly high plateau of Harding Point. At trail’s end, sightings of Flagstaff’s peaks cap off the hike in all its freckled and flawed grandeur.
LENGTH: 2.5 miles roundtrip
RATING: difficult
ELEVATION: 5320' - 6320'
GETTING THERE:
From the traffic circle at State Routes 179/89A in Sedona, go 10.5 miles north on SR 89A and turn left at the Call of the Canyon Day Use Area.  There’s a $10 daily fee per vehicle to park.
The trail begins near the map kiosk at the West Fork trailhead. Hike 0.25 mile on the access path, cross SR89A and pick up the trail marked by a concrete step and metal sign post.
INFO: Coconino National Forest

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