Find A Trail. Start Your Search Here:

Monday, December 11, 2017


Hog Wash Trail
Hikers of a certain age will remember the 1960s TV submarine series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Each week kids across the nation could vicariously board the Seaview with Admiral Nelson for a new nail-biting peril, a new monster and an old predictable plot as seen through the sub’s massive control room windows.
Broken Arrow Trail
For me, the wonder of it all lasted up until a class trip to a naval base in Groton, CT where I got to walk through the tin-can corridor of a real-life docked sub. We kids lurched single file past walls of gauges, dials and buttons in sync with a baseline of parental “don’t touch, stay back, keep quiet”. But, unlike on the Seaview, there were no windows-- which dashed my hopes of a beastly freak festival. For those of us who had toed the line, the tour culminated with a consolation prize: a trip to a local ice cream parlor. It wasn’t exactly the one-eyed squid from outer space finale I had hoped for, but the tour fueled my life-long fascination with underwater suspense books and films.  (Yes, I have really watched U-571 three dozen times). 
Submarine Rock (center) floats in a sea of green
While there may not be any deep-sea-creature-themed sub tours here in land-locked Arizona, we do have the next best thing to a mutant flying beluga whale encounter: Sedona.
Given my childhood experience, I was naturally intrigued when I came across the Submarine Rock Trail while hiking Sedona’s Broken Arrow Trail a few seasons ago. That path wasn’t on the day’s agenda, so it took a slot on my hike to-do list.  The trail is situated just outside of the Munds Mountain Wilderness on the east edge of the Twin Buttes cluster of trails near the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Several trails and trailheads offer dozens of ways to build your own route to get to it. On my bucket list return visit, 
A juniper frames Wilson Mountain
I started at the lesser-known Mystic Trailhead and used the Hog Wash and Broken Arrow Trails. The trek wraps around vertical sandstone pillars for constantly changing views of Red Rock Country landforms including Capitol Butte, Wilson Mountain and the massive profiles of Lee and Munds Mountain.
The route also has an optional short side trip to Devil’s Dining Room, a bat-inhabited sinkhole off the Broken Arrow Trail.  Once through a corridor of cypress, yucca and slick rock, views open for a first look at Submarine Rock. The torpedo-shaped red rock outcropping looks remarkably like a submersible ship cruising the surface of an other-worldly ocean. 
Capitol Butte (left) seen from the Mystic Trail

The terrestrial vessel rests at the edge of the wilderness overlooking a wide valley painted in shades of emerald and moss bolstered by stony walls that soar to over 6000 feet.
Submarine Rock (right) 
At various times in geological history, this landscape was at the bottom of the sea. The surrounding escarpments and gullies are relics of ancient oceans, inland lakes and wind swept sand. Although it’s moored on terra firma, this fantastical ship provides a launch point for a journey of spirituality, imagination and science that rivals those featured in sci-fi films. Plus, this ship has one heck of a window. If after taking this incredible voyage, you still have a have a hankering for a bigger serotonin rush; then squeeze yourself into How Sweet It Is, a sub-cabin-sized candy shop in Sedona’s Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village for a well deserved ice cream treat.
Devils Dining Room
Red rocks of Munds Mountain Wilderness
From the Mystic trailhead, hike 0.4 mile north to the Hog Wash Trail junction. Go right and follow Hog Wash 1.6 miles and veer right onto Broken Arrow Trail. Continue 0.5 mile to the Submarine Rock junction and follow the trail 0.6 mile to the rock. Return the way you can or use the map posts to plan a loop.
LENGTH: 6.2-miles
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 4360 - 4600 feet
Mystic Trailhead:
From the Sedona exit 298 on Interstate 17, turn left onto State Route 179 and go 11.5 miles to Chapel Road located past milepost 310. Turn right and continue 0.3 mile to the trailhead. A Red Rock Pass in not needed at this trailhead.
Coconino National Forest:

No comments: