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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108, AZ

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4.5k 435 14
Guide 435 Triplogs  14 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Sedona > Sedona NE
Rated
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4.5 of 5 by 141
 
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,280 feet
Elevation Gain 200 feet
Accumulated Gain 300 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3-4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.5
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes - past 6 Miles
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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13  2019-08-24 SunDevil3
18  2019-08-19 LosDosSloFolks
11  2019-07-30 cw50must
1  2019-07-28 jregan0502
6  2019-01-06 MountainMatt
10  2018-10-28 survivordude
6  2018-07-12 ddgrunning
30  2018-07-07 chumley
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 33
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,812
Trips 4,252 map ( 21,403 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Preferred   May, Jun, Sep, Oct → 9 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:08am - 6:37pm
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3 Alternative
 
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#1 Hike in Arizona!
by joebartels

Likely In-Season!
West Fork of Oak Creek is a canyon you won't forget. A crisp morning hike here in Autumn foliage pretty much sealed the deal that I'm a hiker for life.


A few minutes into the hike you cross a bridge built in the summer of '98. The steep climb in and out of the creek was a mini adventure you now admire from above. After crossing the bridge the trail turns left. Follow the trail overlooking the creek on your left. A spectacular field of ferns opens up to your right. It is the former site of the Lolomai Lodge. Operation faded out around 1920. Zane Grey wrote Call of the Canyon at the lodge. Old apple trees are scattered throughout the field. Shortly before reaching the creek, lush and I mean lush paths welcome the hiker. This is one place I can truly say I'm glad I can't bring my mountain bike. You just wouldn't want to screw up something so perfect.

Continue on crossing the creek numerous times as far up as you like. I usually turn around at the two mile mark. Families with small children will probably be satisfied with less. The trail peters out at three miles. Stone mile markers line the trail at half mile intervals. The creek is clear and the environment soothes as you walk along.

Keep in mind your feet are going to get wet, it's part of the fun. From years I wore Teva river sandals for good traction. Running shoes are my preference now in my 40's as I'm not as agile as boyscout. Whatever you wear be careful on the slippery rocks in the creek. The canyon walls loom overhead giving a warm feeling. The creek winds back and forth, opens up, narrows, deep pools, shallow pools, tiny cascades you name it. Oak Creek is awesome. Parking on any beautiful summer weekend or during fall foliage can be a hassle. I hiked the creek winter of '98 just to see the flip side. The feeling was rather eerie.

Camping
You must travel 6 miles up the canyon to camp. Which is 3 miles past the maintained trail. It is not a dry hike, the creek is perennial.

Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or stove fire is prohibited in the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon. Backpacking stoves or propane stoves are allowed.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2001-07-31 joebartels
  • book
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  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
  • Sedona Trails 2018
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    Sedona Trails 2018

Coconino FS Details
There are a number of reasons why West Fork is the most popular trail on the Coconino National Forest. You'll know some of them once you've strolled beside the pleasant little stream that ripples along the canyon floor and looked up, way up, at the dizzying cliffs that tower above it. You'll know even more if you come in the spring, when migrating songbirds decorate the trees with flashes of brilliance, or in the fall when pastel leaves float in clear reflecting pools under a canopy of solid color. You can even add to that list if you come in the winter, when icicles hang from red rock overhangs and snatches of snow persist in cool shadows. As a matter of fact, you'll probably find a new reason to be here every time you visit.

As for the trail itself, it's an easy stroll, but you do have to cross the stream in a number of places. Usually, that involves negotiating a few strategically placed stepping stones or taking a couple of steps in shallow water. The trail is marked for the first three miles; however, many hikers continue beyond that. Eventually the pathway ends and you will be forced to hike in the stream bed as you continue into the Secret Mountain/Red Rocks Wilderness. If you choose to travel all 14 miles from one end of the canyon to the other, plan to do a lot of wading and boulder hopping, and even some swimming.

No matter how long a hike you take here, you'll enjoy it best if you come at a time when the trail is least crowded. Mornings and weekdays are best, better yet if they're in the off-season.

When you do come, remember to take special care and leave this beautiful place better than you found it. Of course you know not to litter, but picking flowers and autumn leaves can cause just as unsightly a scar. So can short-cutting or rock throwing. Treat this natural treasure with the care it deserves and you'll have plenty of reason to come back and see it again and again.

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During summer, fall color, spring break, and other busy times of the year, Call of the Canyon (West Fork Trailhead) parking fills up every day by 9:30 a.m., seven days per week. Have a backup plan for a different hike or day use area if the parking lot is full. Parking along the road is extremely dangerous, and damages soils and vegetation.
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.

Most recent of 54 deeper Triplog Reviews
West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108
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My 8 year old daughter and I continue to prep and test our gear for our GCNP backpacking trip in October. After a few decently long hikes with minimal gear, it was now time to put some more miles on our new boots with some heavy packs laden down for an overnight backpacking trip.

Set off from Phoenix at 6AM and hit the West Fork parking lot at 8:15AM only to find the lot already at capacity and a line of nine cars ahead of us. A nice ranger came out and spoke with several cars in line and fortunately convinced six of them to head further up 89A for street parking. I really wanted to avoid that and was convinced to wait when the ranger informed me that a) if you park legally along 89A but someone else comes by and parks in the same roadside carve-out with a wheel in the road, the powers-that-be would likely tow all cars in the line and not just the scofflaw; and b) if you park overnight on 89A, there is a decent chance you will get towed. Not wanting to spend the next two days dreading an exhausted return to find my Jeep gone and the ensuing impound fees, we decided to wait patiently for a spot in the lot. We used our wait time to prep the gear and get our boots on and finally got parked and on the trail around 9:45AM.

The hike in was pleasant and we grabbed a few small apples and some wild blackberries to supplement our food supply in the early going. We were still early enough that the initial stages of #108 were not yet teeming with the usual masses of flip-flop wearing, music-blasting rabble and hit the end of the official trail around 2:00PM. The forest service says the official trail runs 3.3mi but my GPS was registering 4.8mi at that point. I know #108 is rife with unofficial short-cuts (and long-cuts) due to the amount of traffic but it seemed unlikely that having taken false trails a few times had resulted in an additional 1.5mi. We also only counted 10 or 11 creek crossings to that point (not the prescribed 13) so who knows—perhaps the forest service measures trail length by flying crows (we saw a couple big ones so it seems possible.)

My daughter was a bit crestfallen when we reached the official trail end and I pointed out the sign indicating we had another 2.75 miles to go before we could legally camp but a short rest with some Goldfish crackers and landjaeger sausage recharged us both and we set off into the wild.

I had thru-hiked the entire 14 or so miles of this back in my college days but it had been a long time since I went this far up the West Fork so I was hopeful my memory of many pools that required swimming would not be revisited. We had a new $2.97 pool raft from Walmart all ready to float our gear should the need arise but thankfully the water never went past my mid-thighs and that little gem stayed uninflated this weekend.

At just about exactly the 6mi mark on the GPS, we came across a small sandy beach campsite on the left side of the creek so we stopped for a rest. Someone had been there recently as the smell of smoldering fire was evident from about 10 yards off and the fire pit still warm. The stuffed Smokey the Bear hanging from my pack zipper gave a silent head-shake of disapproval.

We met two backpackers earlier on their way out who strongly urged us not to take the first campsite because there were much nicer ones about a mile further along. The notable “100 yard pool” just after the official trail end had been only shin-deep but there was slightly deeper pool just past this camp that spanned around a bend so I let my daughter hydrate and rest while I scouted ahead a bit. Turned out there was a bit of a sandbar in the middle of the creek that could get us back to more amenable depths on the other side so we switched to water shoes and ventured on.

About a mile later, my daughter started “spotting” campsites up ahead that never seemed to materialize. I suspect these were just mirages induced by fatigue (or hope) as I could not recall many sites along the creek itself when going through there 15+ years ago. I did recall several sites up on the ridgeline though so I was continually looking upward in hopes of spying some sort of black soot stains on the rocky overhangs of the cliff walls but to no avail. Our initial drinking water-supply had been exhausted at this point so we broke out our newly purchased Grayl Geopress purifier and refilled our canteens from the creek before attempting to gain access to a low spot on the ridge through some heavy brush. My daughter took a bit of a tumble halfway up and was able to convince me that this did not seem to be the correct path to find a camp so we made our way back to the creek and soldiered on.

My phone battery was on life-support at this point so I refrained from checking how far we had gone for the next 30-45 min as we trudged in and out of the water upstream. Next time I do this, I am getting some Tevas as my water shoes apparently were designed with the lovely feature of interior seams facing the toe so that any small rocks and debris that get inside would become trapped from exiting the heel in favor of continually becoming lodged between the sole of my foot and the insole. My daughter’s water shoes were better designed but my feet became extremely bruised on the bottom.

Eventually, my daughter became disheartened again and started questioning why I had wanted to leave the initial beach campsite we found. It had partly been at the prospect of better camp sites upstream but mostly because, given the short distance from the end of the official trail to that site, I was almost certain it could not be past the boundary into the legal wilderness area so I let her sit and rest creek-side again while I checked a few hundred yards further up. I found nothing and eventually ran into the deepest and longest pool of the day so headed back to find her rather upset that I had been gone from sight for so long. Stupid dad lesson learned—five min can seem like an eternity to a tired 8 year old sitting alone on the side of a creek.

We started back to the original beach site and soon came upon a young couple who—judging from both the smell and their relative attitude of surprise and annoyance—I am pretty sure had paused to smoke weed in the assumption no one (let alone someone with a young child) would randomly come upon them from upstream at that hour. They quickly stashed their pipe in a pocket as we approached but were nice enough to tell us they knew of many campsites but they were likely another 1.5 miles upsteam. They did highly recommend the beach site back downstream though and confirmed it was not occupied when they had passed so we continued back that way accompanied by my prayers that it would still be available upon our arrival.

Thankfully, the beach was still open when we arrived and we dropped our gear. I think we lucked out there as I had only just pulled our tent from my pack when another couple appeared from downstream and laid down directly across the creek from our site for a good 20 min pretty much staring at us the whole time while we setup camp. Not sure if they had designs on camping there themselves but that is my suspicion as they eventually continued upstream around 6PM so I assume they were not hiking through.

My phone died shortly before we hit the camp but I had a spare battery pack I hooked up and the GPS app registered a total of 8.6 miles before I lost it (including our ill-advised venture up past and back to our eventual site.) Not sure how close we ever got to the other, fabled sites beyond but I think we must have been within a quarter mile when we turned back.

Camp was wonderful; overrun with spiders but they seemed to largely keep to themselves in spite of a few suspect bites we discovered over the next couple of days. My daughter relaxed in our hammock while I restocked our water and prepared some freeze-dried chicken fried rice. We roasted a few marshmallows after dinner before I moved all our remaining food items to my lumbar pack and ventured across the creek to hang it in a tree. She turned in around 8:15PM—tired but happy—while I retired to the hammock to read my newly acquired copy of Zane Grey’s “Call of the Canyon” by headlamp—figured I had to read it at some point and what better place to start than there. I never read any of Grey’s stuff before but, I must admit, laying in a hammock below the red rock cliffs with only the sounds of the babbling creek, crackling fire, and chirping crickets while I read his description of that very canyon was truly a magical experience.

Morning came and we had a quick breakfast while enjoying the view. My daughter’s socks and boots had both gotten wet and my attempts to dry them by the fire the night before were about as effective as you would think. I worked on them a bit more with another fire and blotting the inside of the boots with my bandana while she ate—the blotting actually worked fairly well in the toes of the boots but she seemed to have left her extra socks in our car. I had one pair each of ankle socks and crew socks which remained dry so I gave her my crews and reluctantly pulled on the ankle socks and my boots. My shins and ankles paid the price but I was glad to suffer the abrasions so my daughter would not.

We broke camp around 8AM. The hike back to the official trail was slow going as neither of us wanted to switch back to water shoes and needed to make several sketchy creek crossings without falling in. On two occasions, I used my longer stride-length to get across some spots my daughter could not and then collect a few good-size rocks to build a viable crossing for her. A very nice lady and her mom who were fording the creek in water shoes also helped my daughter across one wide swath and I cannot thank them enough for that.

We busted through the last 3+ miles of official trail quickly—urged on ever faster by the increasing gaggle of inconsiderate and sometimes downright rude people as we neared the trailhead. My daughter was definitely getting a bit overheated as we neared the end so I forced her to drink the last of the water I was carrying as we made our final creek crossing and headed up towards the old lodge and TH beyond.

We got back to our jeep right at Noon and set off straight for Harding Spring to refill every bottle we had and enjoyed a good deal of it immediately. We were both hungry so I continued north up 89A to Flagstaff to get some of our favorite pizza at Fratelli’s before heading back to Phoenix.

I did not have any GPS tracking on the way out but figure it was about 15 mi over 12-13 hours total hiking in the two days. That instilled me with some good confidence that we are ready to tackle our South Rim GCNP adventure in October (although we still intend to do one more tune-up hike with heavy packs going at least 3.5 miles up Humprey’s Peak in September to temper us for the endless switchbacks of Bright Angel.)
West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108
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It's hard to believe I've never been on this trail before seeing as I've lived in Arizona since 1968. What a gem! It's definitely a Sedona hike but without as many red rocks, as much direct sunlight, and no pink jeeps. The addition of flowing water, Ponderosa Pine and other large species of trees give this hike a great vibe. Being north of town it is hopefully also free of something that has always given me great cause for alarm...vortexes and those dreaded harmonica virgins that so many spiritual advisers claim exist there. :-)

We arrived at the Call of the Canyon trailhead at 7:45 and were the first ones in. :y: A brisk but greatly appreciated 47 degrees at the start. Lots of smoke in the air (Museum Fire?), but a breeze came up and it cleared out quite a bit by the time we were coming out. One younger couple passed us about a mile and a half in and after that we had the place to ourselves until the hike back out. Lots of groups coming in as we left with what I would call a late start. It was really getting warm by this time. So many folks had no water or hats. No telling on how far they were going though. Mainly Europeans mixed with locals with the predominate fashion statement being tie dye tee shirts and strange looking sandals the likes of which I have never seen :? I should have taken a photo. Around every bend I was half expecting to see naked Tai Chi in the woods. Hey, it happens up there. :scared:

We went up the canyon trail and followed the creek for a little over 4 miles. The views just kept getting better and better but Mrs. SloFolks started giving me "that look" so I knew it was time to turn around. Good thing too, because the sand walking and the small amount of bushwhacking we did was taking it's toll on me too. I was pretty tired when we got back to the parking lot. We finished off our trip with massive burritos at El Rincon at the Tlaquepaque Center in Sedona. See Photoset.

Quick side story...on the way out to the parking lot we ran into a woman with her very young son and they had found the mother load of ripe, sweet blackberries. She was picking high and he was getting all the low ones and they had amassed close to 15 qts. in stainless steel buckets. I demanded to see her "permit" and told her I had to confiscate the ill gotten fruit. I could have pulled it off had I been able to keep a straight face for just a minute or two longer! We stopped at Rock Springs Café on the way down I-17 and bought a pie instead.

One thing to note if you are going to hike this trail...LOTS of poison ivy and oak. Enough to keep you from venturing off of the trail a lot especially if you are wearing shorts. Some of it was face high. That got my attention! Also, I found that the AEG was greater than what is commonly listed in the guide and other online sources. We are both looking forward to doing this hike again in the autumn to see the color change.
West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108
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This was day 2 of my Sedona adventure. I had a mental list of things to do on Tuesday before I headed home. This was not one of them! I'm not sure what happened, but when I woke up I felt like I wanted to drive up Oak Creek Canyon and do West Fork. This is usually a "fall" hike for me and the rest of the world, but I figured it has to be good in the summer too right? I think this was a good choice given the amount of shade on the trail. I was surprised at how many people were out there on a Tuesday, only a few $11 parking spots left when I arrived around 10am. I noticed on my way out the lot was full. I enjoyed the green scenery and the grassy areas were very full. The old stone ruins at the start of the trail were almost hidden.
West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108
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Made it to the Call O' The Canyon parking lot around 10:30am and got the dogs ready to go. $11 entry fee or Grand Annual Red Rocks Pass gets you in, America The Beautiful NP Pass not a substitute as it is for other Red Rocks Pass sites. First .25 miles of hiking is on exposed sand which is incredibly hot for the dogs paws during midday. From then on out mostly in the shade. Got to the standard turnaround point and waded up the creek another 300 yards to a nice shallow pool. Let the dogs swim and we cooled off for a few hours... most folks didn't seem to make it all the way to the turnaround point so it was quite quiet. Quite a few young children on the trail as well. Disappointing amount of cairns (no need trail is clear as day), dog poop bags, and picnic trash left behind. Please pack it out and keep your dogs on a leash.
West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108
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Headed back to Sedona for a great hike in Oak Creek Canyon. We started from the parking lot at roughly 8:45am and made the hike in. We got out feet wet right from the start and really enjoyed hiking up canyon. We made good time and continued past the standard turnaround point and kept going for another hour. IMO this upper section is fantastic and worth exploring. We eventually turned around and started our return as some dark clouds moved in followed by thunder. Luckily nothing materialized and we had a nice stroll back to the car. Great day in Sedona!
West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108
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Short sunset hike after a dealing with a cantankerous parking attendant. Shauna and I had the canyon almost to ourselves this evening, great for photo ops. Pleasantly cool in the canyon. The unripe apples were deliciously rubbery and tart. Got back at dusk and headed into Sedona for dinner.
West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108
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Solo backpacked West Fork of Oak Creek 4/14/2017-4/15/2017 with the intent of seeing just how far in I could get in a day with the knowledge that I needed to go at least 6 miles in before camping for the night. When I arrived in the morning (10:00 am) the parking lot was completely full and had a line. After waiting in the line for 15 minutes and realizing no progress I abandoned the official parking lot and went in search of street parking. I did not have to go far before I found a spot that was free of "no parking" signs and wide enough of a shoulder to fit my small truck. A short walk brought me back to the trailhead were I was charged a $2 fee as a walk-in, which is cheaper than the fee for parking in the lot. Seeing that I was solo backpacking, the lady at the gatehouse checked me in and requested that I check out on my return. She did not ask for my name, itinerary, or any contact information so I'm not sure how effective any response from the rangers would have been.

The trail was easy to follow on the maintained section and fairly popular, with day hikers congregating around the picturesque water crossings. There were 13 crossings in this section and all of them could be crossed by either rock hopping on large boulders or balancing on conveniently located fallen trees. It was not until leaving the maintained trail that getting feet wet became a requirement and I did not see any more hikers or backpackers beyond this point.

After passing a sign saying "end of maintained trail" and "no camping withing 6 miles of trailhead" the first real adventuring began. Continuing on, wading through water was nearly continuous with the banks being non-existent, overgrown with brush, or very steep scrambles. The water was by and large not too deep with most sections being between calf and knee depth. There were sections that were waist high or swimming depth but I initially avoided these by either traversing the slick rock along the edges of the creek or scrambling up the sides to bypass these sections. The water was bone numbingly cold and I did not have a wetsuit as I was new to hiking in canyons and did not know that was a option.

As I progressed farther into the canyon I found several locations where people clearly camped before. These were largely on scenic little sandbars or beaches and in some cases had well established fire rings. Apparently this section of the creek is not often patrolled by the rangers because these campsites were well within the 6 mile "no camping" limit. I also began to see more frequent fire rings on either side of deeper sections of the creek, it didn't occur to me at the time that these were spots where people had fallen in, gotten cold, and built a fire to warm up and dry off. Soon I was to inadvertently become one of those people.

Eventually I came to a difficult spot where the canyon was narrow and the water at least 8' deep in the center. There was a small beach on the right hand side that had been used for camping but no convenient rocks to scramble up to get around the deep spot. The sides of the canyon were smooth, slick rock that was made extra slippery by a layer of algae below the water line. Thinking I would traverse along the edge in shallow water and avoid the swim as I had done previously I began to cross. Just passed the half way point and next to the deepest section, there ceased to be handholds and the side became steeper. I began to slip, and with no means to arrest my fall plunged into the cold water bashing my knee on the side in the process.

I had unclipped my pack straps at each risky water crossing and was glad I did. As soon as I went under it floated right off me and I had little trouble getting untangled. It floated remarkably well. I was later to calculate that the full size foam sleeping pad I was carrying is buoyant enough to float a full 40 lbs by itself. Figuring I was already most of the way across I swam forwards pushing my bag in front of me. At the other side I climbed out on some rocks and took stock of my current situation.

Prior to starting the trip I had waterproofed much of the contents of my bag with kitchen trash bags for large items and plastic baggies for small stuff. The majority of my clothes were fine as was my sleeping bag, which was surprising given it was in a stuff sack on the outside of the pack. Other things had not fared as well. My knee was bruised and bloody but the damage was largely superficial. I gave it a slathering of antibiotic ointment to ward of any creek microbes, a wrapping of gauze, and moved on. My watch and primary timekeeping device was toast. The water did not get into it but apparently I bashed it hard on the rocks in the fall and the mechanism had given out. My camping stove, tent, hiking shoes, and I would later find headlamp were also soaked. I laid the wet things out to dry, put on some dry clothes and began to scout around for a spot to set up camp.

In the immediate vicinity of where I fell in I found an improvised raft made of dead fall lashed together with paracord. I also found a fire ring near the water but the area was unsuitable for camping. I ended up advancing as far as the next unavoidable water crossing before finding an area large enough to set up camp. There was a fire ring and enough space to pitch a tent though the ground was very rocky and it would be uncomfortable to sleep on. With the sun no longer shining in the canyon and a cool breeze picking up I decided to call it a day.

I was unable, and honestly unwilling to find sufficient dead fall for a decent fire and so settled for a pathetic smoldering thing that did more to make my soaked hiking shoes smell like smoke than actually dry them out. They would end up being dead weight for the rest of the trip as they were too wet the next morning to use on the dry sections of the hike. Happily I found that my camping stove worked just fine despite its thorough soaking. I pitched my tent, which dried rapidly in the breeze, and set about brewing up dinner and some tea with bourbon to further ward off the chill.

Despite the uncomfortable and abrupt end to my day of hiking I was optimistic about the return trip. In order to avoid swimming through freezing water first thing in the morning I resolved to use the raft to cross the section where I had fallen in. I planned to test the raft out and augment it with additional dead fall and paracord I brought with me if necessary. Activities after sunset posed an unexpected challenge because the water resistant headlamp I had brought apparently had gotten water inside the circuitry. This had the interesting effect of making the headlamp able to turn itself on and off at random intervals without human intervention. I ended up having to pull the batteries out of it so I could get some sleep.

It was cold when I woke up the next morning. I could see my breath so it was ~40 F, not good weather for swimming! After some oatmeal to warm up I broke camp and headed back to the deep spot. Arriving at the water I was in for a surprise, I could hear voices coming from the other side and could smell woodsmoke. There was a group of backpackers camped out on the small beach but being around the bend they were out of sight. I pushed the raft into the water and found that it floated nicely so I proceeded to waterproof all my clothes, except the swim trunks I was wearing, and loaded the pack and myself onto the improvised raft. The combined weight was enough to get the bottom of the bag and myself submerged and I had to keep very low to keep from capsizing. There was no oar so I paddled with my hands aided by the slow flow of water downstream. The group of backpackers camped on the beach had a great laugh seeing me "Tom Sawyering" it down the creek in swim trunks at 7 in the morning!

They generously threw some extra wood on the fire to help me dry out and I found that they had reached the same deep spot shortly after I did. One of them tried to swim through and thought better of it halfway across so they camped for the night. The group was splitting up with one of them returning and the other two continuing on so I had company for the return hike.

The way back was uneventful except for an incident where my hiking partner slipped and sent his glasses flying which broke on the rocks. We returned to find the vehicles had made it through the trip without incident, far better than we had done!

This trip was very much a learning experience. The next time I will either go in the middle of summer, so that the cold water is better for swimming, or bring a wetsuit. I also would not avoid the swimming sections by doing risky traverses and would either bring a dry bag, a more thorough waterproofing method, or if I were with a group a "slackraft" for getting bags and non-wetsuited individuals across the deep sections.

The scenery throughout the canyon was beautiful and well worth further exploration. West Fork of Oak Creek makes for a great backpacking adventure!

Link to topographical maps and field notes: https://plus.google.co...

Link to trip video:
[ youtube video ]
West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108
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Decided to check out the colors in west fork this past weekend. This one is a classic for fall colors and it did not disappoint. Knowing how crowded this trail can get, in fact we had a good sized crowd ourselves, we headed out early. Arrived about 8:30 am and was still able to a spot in the parking lot, but just barely. Was a cool start, close to 50* according to the car read out.

Autumn comes a little later in Sedona than up on the hill in Flagstaff. I just trying to hit this based on previous trips, one time we hit it perfect and then the last time we ere too early. I'd say we were close this time. I could tell driving in through oak creek canyon that it was still a bit green. It did get more colorful the further in we went. There were pockets of extreme color along the way on the trail, but still plenty still to change. towards the turn around spot it was very colorful. I think the next week or 2 would be prime for the area. Also, aside from a few darkened tree trunks occasionally, there is not much evidence of the fire a couple years ago. If you weren't looking for it, you'd never know.

Video: youtu.be/8k8fd-aYHdM

Foliage
early on towards the trail head its still plenty green. There are good pockets of extreme color here and there. The last half of the trail is very colorful, I would rank the last mile before the turn around substantial. A week or 2 would be prime time.
West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108
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This bucket list trail was finally crossed off the list for us after a cloudy autumn morning in Flagstaff had us yearning for warmer weather down elevation. We began at 8:30 on a Sunday morning, which is late for late-summer hiking, but early for every one else on the trail. We ended up parking about .2 north on 89 and made our way down. The leaves were just starting to change surrounding the trail, and the air was cool when we first started. The vibe hiking this trail in north sedona is much different with the 1000' elevation differential separating the West Fork trailhead and that of others in Sedona proper. Similarly the intimate forest nature of the trail was much different than the epic red rocks I've become accustomed to.

After some of the easiest 7 miles i've hiked, I wish i'd previously recommended it to parents and friends interested in a milder hike. While it isn't climactic, it is a great hike with shade cover and patches of exposed rock - hard to find in Sedona.
West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108
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AB Young - Buckhead - West Fork Loop
Joe came up with a good one this week. It only got warm a few times, but the breezes and tree cover made it quite tolerable.

It was confusion right off the bat on this one. Having no idea how we got off the trail 50 ft in, we just crossed the creek and hit the AB Young on the other side. This is still a steep one, things have not changed. Pines at the beginning, Pines at the top and exposed everywhere else.

We stopped at the East Pocket Lookout and talked to the Lookoutkeep whose name was Guy. Strangely he was a Michigan dude, hailing from the next town over from where I used to live.

After some pleasant FS walking, we got to the exciting part. Joe had actually spent some time this week and came up with some options. Nestled between the two Technical Canyonering options of Illusion Canyon and Immaculate Canyon, Joe came up with a route that us non-canyoneer types could manage. Steep in spots, sure, but nothing crazy or scary. Only one 50 yard spot with thick prickly stuff. Some really cool undercut areas and one area with a JJ ladder to descend 20'. A great job of putting together this route.

We exited the canyon into the West Fork of Oak Creek 4 miles from the Trailhead. There was a group taking a break there that looked at us with a confused look as to where we'd come from.

This was actually my first time in the lower portion of the West Fork. Quite a gorgeous place. The people got thicker the closer we were to the TH.

Our road walk on 89a to get back to the Bootlegger is not recommended.

Permit $$
$11 Entry Fee or Grand Annual Red Rocks Pass
operated by concessionaire - Red Rock Pass not accepted

Red Rock - Secret Mountain Wilderness
see map for camping restrictions


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
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