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Woods Canyon - Sedona, AZWoods Canyon - Sedona, AZWoods Canyon - Sedona, AZ
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Woods Canyon spans over 20 miles end to end. According to USGS topographical maps it originates somewhere between Fair & Gash Mountain or possibly Brollier Park. The most exciting part is where it rips into mother earth near 1-17 then heads down towards the Village of Oak Creek. In planning a full canyon hike it's critical to know the facts. What you see isn't what you get. As mentioned this canyon becomes noticeable at I-17, just after mile marker 316. In fact a bridge spans what looks to be the origins. This isn't the whole story. Woods Canyon has a 6-7 mile head before even crossing I-17. With maps I estimate 50-60 square miles of land drains into Woods Canyon before crossing I-17. Point being there's enough landmass to create serious catastrophe in the narrows. I could have just forewarned but I wanted you to know first hand what the warning is all about. If you sprain an ankle in the wrong place and time on this hike you are dead.


This is part of a 3 set series. See table down below text.

On the table I've noted my personal rating for each hike. Upper Woods is without a doubt the attraction. You may ask why even consider a full canyon excursion. For starters you conquer what few have ever accomplished. It's the logical way to see the Indian ruins. Tag on the fact it's not much easier by just doing the upper as an out-n-back.

See Woods Canyon (Upper) for the beginning of this hike.

Hike: I pick up at the scramble & the supai pool that requires a jump. Since there may be unseen boulders just below the surface jumping isn't wise. Keep in mind a flood may wash boulders in the pool. Therefore forget it when somebody reports it's okay. Choose wisely and scramble the left bank. A sketchy use-trail leads the way through desert vegetation.

Soon you're back down on the canyon floor. I don't believe others share my enthusiasm, but the next 0.8 mile is my favorite! Welcome to the mother load of quality curvaceous Grade-A Sedona-Supai Red-Rock. The "cow pies" of Mitten Ridge are bigger but they don't hold strength when it comes to curves!

Nothing compares to the waves before the scramble but you won't be disappointed! The sandstone floor loses direction. It's blobbed like slow melting swiss cheese. Followed shortly by the coconino dunes, a thin layer of coconino capping the supai! This leads to a slight crescent pool that's been fighting a curve in the canyon for millions of years. The canyon is winning by a ledge! As noted the pool digs deeper and away from the wall. Swimming would be an honor in this beauty, but it is possible to skirt the edge.

Further down comes a site rarely seen. The Sinaguan Indian ruins of Woods Canyon! Spectacular is an understatement for these 800-year-old dwellings. The ruins themselves are small. The setting is a supai dream right down to the dryfall adjacent left.

You may be thinking of doing an "upper out-n-back" to the ruins. It's possible. It's also possible you'll cramp up so hard on the return you'll never see the next day of your life

Another bend, another perk, dang Woods packs a punch! Imagine a 300 ft slab of crisp jewelers-cut coconino sandstone that'll give Long Canyon a run for it's money. Dreams come true in Woods!

If you've made it this far, you're more or less committed to the "full canyon offering" for a day hike. Now for the bad news, the perks for the most part are behind you. Next comes miles and miles of mini boulders. I'm serious, OVER five miles of mini boulder hopping. You'll swear it never ends. Red Rock Beach as mentioned in "Woods Canyon (Lower)" is your focus and goal for the next few hours of your life. Once there you can't miss the trail leading you out of the canyon and home. But we aren't there yet!

Push hard for a couple hours and it'll pass quickly. Think about the calves of steel you'll be flaunting next week! Hope arrives with the Supai Freeway. Keep an eye out for Sinaguan Semis with faulty brakes. You may want to stop at the Red Rock Lounge. However, I'd push on past another stretch of boulders which are simply large stones at this point. Better known as ankle busters since your body out weighs the rock. Pass up Red Palette Beach too. Then take a breather at the etched slab. Here you'll find pools deeper & clearer then the previous. It's a great spot to cool off and water up. Tackle another good size stretch of ultra mini boulders. Keep an eye out on the right bank for cairns. If you're lucky you'll catch a 1.5 mile trail that high banks the right/west side to Red Rock Beach. The trail goes up at reasonable slant. If you miss the trail scratch out 5 miles of boulders and write in 6.5 miles. Not to mention the canyon gets densely populated with sycamores to slow things up. From Red Rock Beach it's only 3.4 miles home. By the way, don't get excited about Red Rock Beach itself, it's popular from the lower end only because it's the first appearance of ledged supai.

See Woods Canyon (Lower) for the remainder of this hike.

For the record we started this hike in 43 degree weather in late June. The first pool was 59 degrees. I believe the second usually runs 5-8 degrees cooler, but I didn't check this time. I wouldn't recommend bringing a dog in as there's very little solid ground. Camping options are plentiful throughout but it simply isn't wise. According to record a big storm hits this area nearly every three years. These are freak storms folks, not forecasted.

Thanks to Pfredricks, ArizonaHeat & CactusCat for a memorable trek! For now I rejoice in post AZventure adrenaline. I imagine in 40-50 years I'll barely be able squeak out a trek from the lower trailhead to Red Rock Beach. Guarantee this, the legend will only grow. I'll be babbling on about the first time we ran from countless bears and wrestled cougars on route.

RatedHike DescriptionPoint to point describedOne-Way mileage
5Woods Canyon (Upper)Upper trailhead to 1st scramble3.25 miles
4 Woods Canyon1st scramble to Red Rock Beach7.00 miles
3Woods Canyon Trail #93Red Rock Beach to lower trailhead (in reverse)3.40 miles
Description 15 Triplogs  1 Topic
RatedFavorite   Wish List 25 Region
Rated
4.6
4.6 of 5 by 8
 
0
0
 Munds Park SW
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
Canyoneering
Consensus
View 1
Grade2
WaterB
Risk
TimeIV
Statistics
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 14 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,360 feet
Elevation Gain -2,485 feet
Avg Time One Way 9 - 12 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 18.14
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Ruins, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Author joebartels
author avatar Descriptions 210
Routes 790
Photos 9,824
Trips 3,719 map ( 19,111 miles )
Age 48 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Photos
feature photo
Viewed All Mine Following
32  2010-09-05
Woods Canyon - Upper
The_Eagle
69  2010-05-17
Woods Canyon - Upper
Vaporman
10  2007-06-23 joebartels
21  2004-04-20 Lizard
17  2003-06-22 pfredricks
10  2003-06-22 arizonaheat
30  2003-06-21 joebartels
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
Expand Map
Map - Beartooth Sedona
Forest Coconino
Wilderness Munds Mountain
Backpack   Possible - Not Popular
Preferred   May, Jun, Sep, Oct → 5 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:47am - 7:04pm
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Official Route
 
Alternative Routes
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Woods Canyon - Upper
same trailhead
6.5 mi
-1,140 ft
Munds Mountain Trail #77
3.9 mi away
6.2 mi
733 ft
Merry Go Round
4.3 mi away
1.0 mi
Mitten Ridge
4.6 mi away
3.9 mi
593 ft
Cow Pies Trail
4.6 mi away
0.5 mi
144 ft
Schnebly Hill Trail #158
4.7 mi away
2.1 mi
885 ft
[ View More! ]
Fauna
Black-necked Garter Snake
Canyon Tree Frog
Geology
Coconino Sandstone
I call it my own
by joebartels

Woods Canyon spans over 20 miles end to end. According to USGS topographical maps it originates somewhere between Fair & Gash Mountain or possibly Brollier Park. The most exciting part is where it rips into mother earth near 1-17 then heads down towards the Village of Oak Creek. In planning a full canyon hike it's critical to know the facts. What you see isn't what you get. As mentioned this canyon becomes noticeable at I-17, just after mile marker 316. In fact a bridge spans what looks to be the origins. This isn't the whole story. Woods Canyon has a 6-7 mile head before even crossing I-17. With maps I estimate 50-60 square miles of land drains into Woods Canyon before crossing I-17. Point being there's enough landmass to create serious catastrophe in the narrows. I could have just forewarned but I wanted you to know first hand what the warning is all about. If you sprain an ankle in the wrong place and time on this hike you are dead.


This is part of a 3 set series. See table down below text.

On the table I've noted my personal rating for each hike. Upper Woods is without a doubt the attraction. You may ask why even consider a full canyon excursion. For starters you conquer what few have ever accomplished. It's the logical way to see the Indian ruins. Tag on the fact it's not much easier by just doing the upper as an out-n-back.

See Woods Canyon (Upper) for the beginning of this hike.

Hike: I pick up at the scramble & the supai pool that requires a jump. Since there may be unseen boulders just below the surface jumping isn't wise. Keep in mind a flood may wash boulders in the pool. Therefore forget it when somebody reports it's okay. Choose wisely and scramble the left bank. A sketchy use-trail leads the way through desert vegetation.

Soon you're back down on the canyon floor. I don't believe others share my enthusiasm, but the next 0.8 mile is my favorite! Welcome to the mother load of quality curvaceous Grade-A Sedona-Supai Red-Rock. The "cow pies" of Mitten Ridge are bigger but they don't hold strength when it comes to curves!

Nothing compares to the waves before the scramble but you won't be disappointed! The sandstone floor loses direction. It's blobbed like slow melting swiss cheese. Followed shortly by the coconino dunes, a thin layer of coconino capping the supai! This leads to a slight crescent pool that's been fighting a curve in the canyon for millions of years. The canyon is winning by a ledge! As noted the pool digs deeper and away from the wall. Swimming would be an honor in this beauty, but it is possible to skirt the edge.

Further down comes a site rarely seen. The Sinaguan Indian ruins of Woods Canyon! Spectacular is an understatement for these 800-year-old dwellings. The ruins themselves are small. The setting is a supai dream right down to the dryfall adjacent left.

You may be thinking of doing an "upper out-n-back" to the ruins. It's possible. It's also possible you'll cramp up so hard on the return you'll never see the next day of your life

Another bend, another perk, dang Woods packs a punch! Imagine a 300 ft slab of crisp jewelers-cut coconino sandstone that'll give Long Canyon a run for it's money. Dreams come true in Woods!

If you've made it this far, you're more or less committed to the "full canyon offering" for a day hike. Now for the bad news, the perks for the most part are behind you. Next comes miles and miles of mini boulders. I'm serious, OVER five miles of mini boulder hopping. You'll swear it never ends. Red Rock Beach as mentioned in "Woods Canyon (Lower)" is your focus and goal for the next few hours of your life. Once there you can't miss the trail leading you out of the canyon and home. But we aren't there yet!

Push hard for a couple hours and it'll pass quickly. Think about the calves of steel you'll be flaunting next week! Hope arrives with the Supai Freeway. Keep an eye out for Sinaguan Semis with faulty brakes. You may want to stop at the Red Rock Lounge. However, I'd push on past another stretch of boulders which are simply large stones at this point. Better known as ankle busters since your body out weighs the rock. Pass up Red Palette Beach too. Then take a breather at the etched slab. Here you'll find pools deeper & clearer then the previous. It's a great spot to cool off and water up. Tackle another good size stretch of ultra mini boulders. Keep an eye out on the right bank for cairns. If you're lucky you'll catch a 1.5 mile trail that high banks the right/west side to Red Rock Beach. The trail goes up at reasonable slant. If you miss the trail scratch out 5 miles of boulders and write in 6.5 miles. Not to mention the canyon gets densely populated with sycamores to slow things up. From Red Rock Beach it's only 3.4 miles home. By the way, don't get excited about Red Rock Beach itself, it's popular from the lower end only because it's the first appearance of ledged supai.

See Woods Canyon (Lower) for the remainder of this hike.

For the record we started this hike in 43 degree weather in late June. The first pool was 59 degrees. I believe the second usually runs 5-8 degrees cooler, but I didn't check this time. I wouldn't recommend bringing a dog in as there's very little solid ground. Camping options are plentiful throughout but it simply isn't wise. According to record a big storm hits this area nearly every three years. These are freak storms folks, not forecasted.

Thanks to Pfredricks, ArizonaHeat & CactusCat for a memorable trek! For now I rejoice in post AZventure adrenaline. I imagine in 40-50 years I'll barely be able squeak out a trek from the lower trailhead to Red Rock Beach. Guarantee this, the legend will only grow. I'll be babbling on about the first time we ran from countless bears and wrestled cougars on route.

RatedHike DescriptionPoint to point describedOne-Way mileage
5Woods Canyon (Upper)Upper trailhead to 1st scramble3.25 miles
4 Woods Canyon1st scramble to Red Rock Beach7.00 miles
3Woods Canyon Trail #93Red Rock Beach to lower trailhead (in reverse)3.40 miles

-
    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 $$
    Red Rock Pass - may or may not be required. Go to Red Rock Pass then check "When is a Red Rock Pass Required?". If you have questions contact the Coconino forest service.


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Info is below 'Directions to trail'

    To Upper Woods Canyon Trailhead
    From Phoenix head north on I-17. Take off on exit 315. Go under the highway west and pick up FR#80. Go right (north) on FR#80 and follow to it's end. (at the one fork, stay right)

    The road is best suited for high clearance vehicles. When it gets muddy 4x4 is a must and at times not even negotiable. The area is closed to vehicular travel from Dec 15th to Apr 1st as it's a designated "Quiet Area".

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 125 mi - about 2 hours 1 min
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 230 mi - about 3 hours 38 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 27.2 mi - about 31 mins
    (Trailhead is generic)
    help comment issue