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Secret Canyon Trail #121, AZ

Guide 118 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 10 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,800 feet
Elevation Gain 400 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,161 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4-5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.81
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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26  2021-05-15
Chuckwagon to Secret Canyon
17  2021-04-10
Bear Sign / Secret Loop
6  2020-07-04
Bear Sign / Secret Loop
9  2019-04-28 ShatteredArm
7  2018-11-03
Brins Mesa Trail #119
8  2018-04-30
Bear Sign / Secret Loop
10  2018-03-30 whycoyote
6  2018-03-28 gregstewart1952
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 8
Author Kip
author avatar Guides 2
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 7 map ( 36 miles )
Age ?
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Sep, Oct → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:32am - 7:35pm
Official Route
14 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2021 Raphael Fire68.5 mi**
🔥 2018 Platypus Fire4.9k
🔥 2014 Slide Fire21.7k
🔥 1994 Lost Fire10.4 mi*
🔥 View All over Official Route 🔥
*perimeter length in miles
**possible voids inflate figure

unexpected change
by Kip

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On the hike, you go through wide-open spaces, small pines, big pines, oaks, ferns, wildflowers, and red-rock canyons!

0 mile Trailhead
1.9 miles David Miller
2.0 miles Canyon wall views
2.3 miles Good camping
2.9 miles Narrows

If you're into filtering brown, stagnant water, there were pockets on this trip. If not, bring water.

The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. For the most part, the hike is flat. There are a few ups and downs through ravines. Nothing serious. I'm sure with a pack, it might drain you after a while.

Maybe it's me, but it felt hotter than forecasted during the day and cooler than forecasted during the night. This is especially true when you are in the wide-open areas without shade. I'm not sure I would do this hike with a pack any later than May.

A couple of good campsites become available around 2.3 miles. There's a great spot with a clear view of the canyon wall, 34 57.256, -111 51.235. This is one of the few places where you see the canyon walls without trees in the way. If you want to hike further in, there is a worthy spot just after the waterfall too 34 57.391, -111 52.004. Although there is occasional airplane noise, this is the quietest place I've camped in a long time.

In mid-May, on this trip, at least, the hike provided great photo opportunities for wildflowers, butterflies, and your typical Sedona red canyons. If there's no water, the waterfall is still a good photo opportunity; it gives you the curvy rock/slot canyon picture. Behind the waterfall campsite mentioned above, it's possible to get up on some red rocks and get above the trees: Scramble up the wooded hill until you run into the red rocks; from there, walk around until you can find a safe place to get up.

I'm not a plant guy, but after reading Joe's warning, I did come across several plants that could pass for poison ivy. The plants were around the river crossings, on stalks about knee-high, had three, spear-shaped leaves, and a number of the leaves were shiny and turning red. If you're not familiar with poison ivy, it can be real nasty stuff; take a few minutes to read up on it.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2003-05-10 Kip
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Coconino FS Details
The Secret Canyon Trail is of moderate length, leading into the Wilderness. The first two miles follows an old road bed, that is fairly flat and easy going. The rest of the way, the trail meanders in and out of the canyon bottom. Vegetation varies from chaparral to mixed conifer along this typically dry water course.

The signed trailhead is across the usually dry streambed of Dry Creek west of the parking area. The trail immediately enters Wilderness. The wide, nearly flat trail leads into the wide canyon mouth with nice views, but no shade from the desert scrub vegetation. At 2/3 mile, HS Canyon Trail branches off to the left. Continue ahead for Secret Canyon. At 2 miles, continue ahead (west) as the trail drops down to cross a drainage. It climbs gently for the next 3 miles beside the canyon drainage, frequently dipping down to cross it.

There is shade from oak and ponderosa and nice views of red rock formations. At 5 miles, the streambed turns sharply left a short distance to an interesting "chute". Return to the trail which continues ahead, climbs sharply, then levels out. At 5.5 miles, there is a deep ravine and a series of pools in the solid rock streambed. An unmaintained trail continues on. Return by the same route for an 11 mile hike. The hike can be shortened and still be worthwhile. The trail can be very hot in summer.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Permit $$
no fees or permits reported

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Red Rock - Secret Mountain Wilderness
see map for camping restrictions

Map Drive
High Clearance possible when dry

To hike
From the 'Y' in Sedona ( 179/89A )
Follow 89A 3.1 miles Southwest to Dry Creek Road. Turn Right and go 1.9 miles to Forest Road #152. There is a fairly large sign with the multiple destinations of FS #152. Turn right on to FS #152 and follow it to... oh about 3.5 miles to the Secret Canyon turnoff to the left. I didn't track the mileage exactly. It's clearly marked and easy to find. What's hard to find is the trail from the trailhead. From the big three panel sign, cross the creek and pick up the trail on the other side. A trail register is there, so if you don't find it soon, you're not in the right area.

Drive 27 miles south from Flagstaff to Sedona on US 89A. Continue through Sedona to Dry Creek Road (152C) at the west end of town. Turn right on Dry Creek Road and drive for two miles to Forest Road 152. This road is rough but can be traveled by passenger vehicles. It is not recommended during wet weather. About 3 miles up this road on the left (west) side of the road is a two-track road. Turn onto this road. There is a trailhead sign at the junction of these two roads. The parking area is approximately 200 feet behind the sign.

Rated high clearance for the majority. Cars do drive this road.
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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