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Monday, September 25, 2017


Deep within the Canyon of Fools
Canyon of Fools might be the weirdest hike in Sedona.  Located in the Mescal Mountain cluster of trails northwest of town, the keynote feature of the route is a gnarly, half-mile walk through a red-earth labyrinth. Unlike other Red Rock Country hikes, this one ditches open air, ooo-ahhh vistas in favor a cloistered trudge through a dirt tunnel.  The adventure begins within a few yards of the trailhead off Boynton Pass Road where the trail ducks into a serpentine gulch that morphs from a roomy corridor into a claustrophobic, high-walled canyon with tree roots protruding in arthritic tangles.
Roots protrude from the canyon walls

Mescal Mountain
The rough-cut passage twists among flaking shelves of sandstone and side canyons sculpted into bizarre forms by running water and erosion.
Yucca fruit
You’d earn the title of fool by trying to hike here during a rainstorm for you’d surely be swept away in a torrent of mud and debris. The creepily distorted gulch is softened with a cap of wildflowers, grasses and familiar cypress-juniper woodlands. At several spots, mounds of decomposed sediments spill out like syrupy rivers of russet oatmeal, dividing the trail into easy and more difficult paths that loop around the debris and reconnect on the backside.  Once through the half-mile canyon section, the trail gradually opens into more conventional high desert terrain where it meets the Yucca Trail junction. The massive landform directly ahead is Mescal Mountain.  This is your first opportunity to consult a map to plan your return route as several trails that wend around the mountain’s base can be used to make loop hikes. With the canyon portion of the trek behind you, head left and continue hiking over slick rock and edgy paths to where the route ends at Deadman’s Pass Trail. For an out-and-back trek, this is your turnaround point. Otherwise, keep trekking north into Red Rock Secret Canyon Wilderness and Boynton Canyon or swing right for a scenic walk over an exposed mesa before picking up a connecting path to to loop back to the trailhead.
Cockscomb formation seen from Canyon of Fools Trail
Club-flower (Purple Birdbeak) blooms Aug-Oct
LENGTH: 2.25 miles one way
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 4440' - 4640'
From the State Route 179/89A traffic circle in Sedona, go 3.2 miles west (left)  on SR 89A to Dry Creek Road. Go 2.8 miles on Dry Creek Road, veer left at the Long Canyon Road junction and continue 0.5-mile on Boynton Pass Road to the parking turnout on the right. A Red Rock Pass is not required at this trailhead.
INFO & MAP: Coconino National Forest