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Woods Canyon Trail #93 - Sedona, AZ

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Guide 32 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Sedona > Sedona SE
3.3 of 5 by 12
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 5.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,880 feet
Elevation Gain 445 feet
Accumulated Gain 615 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.3
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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12  2019-03-09 ThirstyLizard
24  2017-05-03
Woods Canyon #93 to Pine Valley Ridge - Sedona
6  2012-11-17 cindyl
14  2011-12-30 WilliamnWendi
8  2011-11-08 Sun_Ray
14  2011-03-29 ineedtoeatnow
77  2010-06-11 Forbesy
35  2008-05-09 Hiker Gal Lauren
Page 1,  2
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,812
Trips 4,256 map ( 21,429 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Oct, Nov → 10 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:11am - 6:33pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
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by joebartels

The trailhead has moved slightly since this was posted in 2001. Only the first quarter mile of the hike has changed. All the good stuff remains the same. Download the official route for best results.

Woods Canyon is located southeast of Sedona. The canyon is protected by the Munds Mountain Wilderness (sorry mountain bikers). The canyon begins to etch the surface up near mile marker 316 on I-17 at (you guessed it) the Woods Canyon bridge. From I-17 it slowly snakes out to the west. Then in about 2 miles it opens up and rips it's way down to SR179 below the Village of Oak Creek. This page is dedicated to an out and back hike from SR179 to just past what I call "Red Rock Beach".

From the trailhead you head out on a now closed jeep route. Thankfully, the recently closed route is already becoming less noticeable due to the wet winter of 2000. Tall grasses lining the trail attract a never ending grasshopper invasion. Since it's only for a short distance it didn't bother me. It's also unlikely this occurs most of the year.

The trail crosses a relatively flat meadow working it's way towards Woods Canyon. Across the way you'll see the Beaverhead. I'm not sure why it's called that. That's just how it's labeled on the topographical map. Knowing Wet Beaver Creek is near by I'm sure it's related. My best theory so far is the terrain of the area resembles a beaver when viewed on a topographical map. Perhaps someone will fill me in on the whole story someday.

The trail stays to the left of the creek. Views of the creek aren't great. There's no need to be disappointed. The trail is remarkably well placed in the foliage of the canyons namesake. By the way, the creek is seasonal. I've read and been told by friends this trail is much better when the creek is flowing. I did enjoy the sound of the flow. Though it didn't seem to be the highlight of this experience. I hiked on figuring some spectacular view must be further on. The opposing canyon wall offers some great views. The steep slope is amazingly wooded. Rock slides patched along the wall reassure you it's very steep.

At two miles is the junction with the Hot Loop Trail. The Hot Loop jets up onto Horse Mesa. Horse Mesa makes up the canyon wall on your left. Continuing on past the junction there are some views of the creek below. The trail skirts the left wall of the canyon above the creek. Along the way you see Rattlesnake Canyon forking off to the right. About a mile and quarter from the Hot Loop junction the trail finally goes down to the creek. The hike was nice up to this point. I soon found out why everybody recommends hiking this trail when the creek is flowing.

Welcome to Red Rock Beach! Sedona red rock sandstone lines the left bank of the creek. Smooth water-flow-paths etched into the slab are cool to observe. The pool gathered in the area wasn't deep enough for swimming on this day. Like similar oasis, the water level drops by the time it's hot enough to enjoy. The most spectacular sight was the fluorescent algae algae seen against the red rock.

3.4mi here is the end of this description. Further on to the end of the trail at 5.25mi is not exciting for most casual hikers. Rattlesnake Canyon on the right is a three mile excursion. There's no trail connecting. A big waterfall 2.5 miles in might be to your liking.

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

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2001-04-23 joebartels
  • wilderness related
  • Woods Canyon Trail #93
    guide related
    Woods Canyon Trail #93
  • Sedona Trails 2018
    region related
    Sedona Trails 2018

Coconino FS Details
The trail begins at the signed trailhead beyond the gate. It is level and unshaded as it follows a jeep road into the wide canyon mouth for 1-1/4 miles. The road ends and the trail continues, climbing gradually. There are views of the vegetation-covered slopes of mesas on either side. At 2 miles, the trail crosses a small, dry streambed with red rock pools, climbs out, passes through a cattle gate, and comes to a signed fork.

The Hot Loop trail enters Wilderness area and continues its easy climb, passing some redrock formations on the left. It enters the occasional shade of pine and sycamore as it approaches and then follows Dry Beaver Creek. At 3-1/2 miles, the trail emerges on a picturesque expanse of redrock at the edge of the usually dry creekbed which is studded with huge, gray boulders. Continue on for another 3/4 mile for some nice redrock views as the trail climbs on a moderate grade out of the creekbed. This is a good place to turn around although a path continues further into the canyon. Return by the same route. This hike can be hot in summer.

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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 Triplog Reviews
Woods Canyon Trail #93 - Sedona
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i guess sometimes you head into a hike with you don’t know until you know.

At a friend’s suggestion, we opened this hike up as a group hike... it possessed most attributes which attract hikers whom may normally not attend longer distance hikes.

These attractors include, no special vehicle requirements, shorter driving distance, water, the word “Sedona,” Sunny, 55 degrees, low EG and of course, plan to eat after the hike.

I guess one is suspect when a trail starts out of the parking lot, of the visitor center— the Woods Canyon Trail #93 leads into the Munds Mountain Wilderness Area and at about hours drive from our North Phoenix meet point, the trailhead made for an easy 8a hike start..

As described in the hike details, the old Jeep road start allowed for side by side hiking which is a little break from the eventual nose to butt hiking that would be the mode through most of the wilderness.

Small water crossings were rock hopped easily and most of the hike is along side and above Dry Beaver Creek. The trail was pretty clear— a little overgrowth but not terribly so.

After checking the gauge reports earlier in the week, we knew we were in for water, and it was quite the gully washer. The roar of the water was a constant companion and the sight of it coming down the opposite canyon walls was also a view to behold.

Pace was about average for our group hikes. Several long stops along the red rock banks for photos added much time to this easy hike. I was the only one to wade in at couple of the stops. Never sure why people pass up the chance to dip up to their ankles icy cold stream waters.

No showy flowers yet although plenty of starts around. Plenty of track and scat—all fresh would make this a great place to visit earlier and quieter.

A better than expected trail experience, perhaps due to all the water and weather. Ok, the human experience was pretty good too.

Anenomes, storksbill, Clover.. Sycamore trees were not leafed yet.
Woods Canyon Trail #93 - Sedona
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Woods Canyon #93 to Pine Valley Ridge - Sedona
Woods Canyon and Beyond

This hike features a moderately rigorous collection of less-commonly-used trail sections, starting at the Woods Canyon trailhead, taking Woods Canyon to the Hot Loop Trail just up the Horse Mesa, traveling back down to pick up Jacks Canyon, then using an fairly obscure connector link to loop through the Pine Valley Ridge and Pine Valley Trails, then backward the same way (skipping Horse Mesa) to the Woods Canyon trailhead. We hike about 16 miles, with an accumulated elevation change, round trip, of about 2900 feet.

The hike offers a bit of everything – open shrublands, rim forests, tree-covered mesas, expansive views, red-rock creek beds, Sedona real estate, the horses at Jacks Canyon trailhead, Courthouse Butte – but not a lot of anyone thing. We get the varied, and a reasonable amount of spectacular.

One item, though, does occur a lot – gates, of all types. After passing, close them, both an obvious courtesy and moreover standard hiking etiquette.

The hike starts at the extreme southern end of the Visitor Center south of Oak Creek village. A trailhead marker near a single boulder announces “Woods Canyon,” followed then by an old-style metal marker with “Trail 93” cutout, then a gate, and tall grasses.

Soon, though, the trail evolves to a mixture of open shrubland of low plants and common Southwest pinyons, juniper and other short trees. This continues as you rise slowly on Woods Canyon trail, the canyon itself formed by mesas to your left and right. The mesas might be considered unremarkable: low, flat, with gently-sloping tree-covered sides – no towering cliffs, only a little of the deep reds or browns or oranges, few bands or striations revealing geologic processes. But this unremarkableness brings a wonder – what would a 300 million year time lapse reveal about why Woods Canyon presents to us tree-covered green, while in a dozen miles Courthouse Butte will present to us a completely different view.

After about 1.8 miles, you reach the Hot Loop junction, marked nicely by a sign post. The ascent pitches up to a moderate incline, bringing you after about .8 miles to another nicely marked “T” junction of Hot Loop, with one leg of the “T” ascending to Horse Mesa. Go right and follow that up (about 1.3 miles) until you judge yourself close enough to the northern rim of the mesa to go north off trail (a short bit) to overlook Jack’s Canyon and the formations beyond. Rest a bit, you will have climbed 1200 feet, but mainly to take in the view and work a few pictures.

Your view across Jacks Canyon provides an expansive panorama of Lee Mountain, Courthouse Butte, and Bell Rock. Beneath you, in Jacks Canyon itself, lies the eastern edges of Oak Creek Village, including estates on roads sufficiently private that no Google street view exists. Far in the background rise Doe, Bear and Black mountains.

Travel back down, to the “T” junction, and now proceed north. This portion of the hike weaves through the wooded slopes of Horse Mesa and the smaller mesa that stood to your left on the beginning of the hike. Of interest, red rock occasionally breaks through the vegetation, hinting that the slopes consist of rock eroded down from strata once above the tops of the mesas.

About 2.8 miles after leaving the viewpoint on Horse Mesa, the hike reaches the horse trailer area at the Jacks Canyon trailhead. With good fortune, you might observe a couple horses being groomed and readied for riding. The estates of eastern Oak Creek village will also appear to the north.

Now pick up the interconnector. This will not be reached by taking the Jack Canyon trail. Rather, look for an unmarked single red trail a couple dozen feet more north than the trailhead for Jacks Canyon. Proceed a short distance on the interconnector, cross the road, pick up the connector again, and proceed up a short hill to a gate. Here, you stand up-close to a large estate, of intriguing architecture. The gate marks the start of Pine Valley Ridge trail and a continued gentle incline.

Proceed about .9 miles, and at the bend of the trail, take a short trek off-trail to the rim for wide view of the escarpment on a southern exposure of Lee Mountain, as well as an angle view on the infamous Rabbit Ears formation. Most of us lack a deep knowledge of geology, but even the casual observer can see the bands, layers and striations in the escarpment, formed as Sedona alternated between sea, beach, river and inland environments circa 275 million years ago.

At this point, one can drop down on a relatively uncataloged “Rabbit Ear” trail, or continue on Pine Valley Ridge, to arrive at the eastern side of Courthouse Butte. Again, geology will be evident, as will a bit denser crowds. You can peruse Courthourse Butte and Bell Rock on the typical trails, as you like, but when done take Big Park Loop south to an unmarked junction with Pine Valley Trail (GPS 34.794682, -111.747949). You will travel back about 1.5 miles on Pine Valley, until you “T” into Pine Valley Ridge. Go right, and shortly you will be at the gate to the interconnector. Proceed back to the Visitor Center, but eliminating the spur up to the top of Horse Mesa. Even though you traversed these trail sections earlier, the sun will now be at a different angle, and you view will be from a different viewpoint, and the time will be later in the day. So don’t be in so much of a hurry to not practice a bit more photography, or nature viewing, or geology study, or whatever your fancy.
Woods Canyon Trail #93 - Sedona
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Judy and I visiting Rich and Sue in Sedona. Afternoon hike we agreed upon as you can see water in Dry Beaver Creek as we drive on 179 approaching the Ranger Station. Out and back with a lunch stop at the turnaround. Great to have another 'water' hike in Sedona....actually Village of Oak Creek. Would do this again. Many cottonwood trees in and along the river, but not leafed out yet.
Woods Canyon Trail #93 - Sedona
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Picked this trail late this morning, prepped, and drove, hitting the trail about 9:50. Not bad.
We set out to find this picturesque spot found in one of Wendi's magazines. Never did find it but it's Sedona everything was beautiful.
The most notable thing about this hike were the cows! From the Th, through the first gate, and well in to the canyon, Cows! The Bulls didn't look like they appreciated our presence and the ladies would run, stare us down, it was crazy. They appeared to display their brazen toughness by eating prickly pear cactus. Who knew they ate prickly pear.
The trail was really well maintained until about an 1/8 of a mile shy of Rattlesnake canyon and beyond. Maintenance degraded shortly after the confluence but it was almost never hard to find... Well one couple came back saying that the trail just ends, but they must have not looked hard enough cause we never missed a beat, until much later in the hike where it washed out at elevation in one of the side washes. We just climbed over the trees that came down in the slide and moved on.
The Cows looked more pissy on the way out but they coward mostly.
Woods Canyon Trail #93 - Sedona
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Looking to complete as many hikes in the book: Sedona Hikes by Richard & Sherry Mangum (now out of print). As stated by others, the TH is at the back of the parking lot at the new Ranger Station on 179 as you head into Sedona off Hwy 17. Was hoping for more water flow as the area had light rain and snow in the last few days. Only saw one other group of hikers on this Tuesday morning. Easy hike with some of the trail along a creek. We stopped and had lunch at a beautiful red rock spot along the creek. Hiked with wife Judy and friends Ginger and Howard.
Woods Canyon Trail #93 - Sedona
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A little late on the triplog but I did this as my first solo overnighter two weeks ago, and boy it was amazing! The trail actually starts at the Red Rock Ranger Station south of VOC. Not much to see on the first part of the trail, but as the canyon narrows in, it is quite spectacular. Surprisingly, I only saw four small groups of people total in the two days. Camped at the rock bench, and had a good time crossing and wading in the creek which was flowing really good. Also, a good amount of water coming out of Rattlesnake canyon. The temperature was just about perfect, albeit a little chilly at night. I really could not have asked for a better first solo backpacking trip- the place was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and the solitude was great. A great easy trail also for beginner hikers too. If your near Sedona/ the VOC, I would say try this short jaunt out!
Woods Canyon Trail #93 - Sedona
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I finally got around to taking advantage of the new TH now that the Ranger Station is finished. The creek was flowing pretty good from snow runoff most likely. I wasn't expecting to much from this hike, so I came away pleasantly surprised on another beautiful day (sunny upper 70s with a light breeze) in Sedona. I've done the upper section a couple times but this was my first time checking out the lower reaches. I ended up hiking past Rattlesnake Canyon, Red Rock Beach, and up to the triple confluence of Pine Tank, Woods, and the canyon coming from Horse Mesa Tank. The trail moves pretty quick due to little elevation gain and a fairly good trail most of the way. :D
Woods Canyon Trail #93 - Sedona
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Lower woods canyon adds more boulder hopping to the end of a long day. Luckily, there is a secret shortcut on the west banks that allows you to avoid much of the pain. 90+ temps at this point during the summer should discourage most individuals from attempting this.

Due to construction in Oak Creek, the lower trailhead was closed, so it is only accessible via Hot Loop as of this writing.
Woods Canyon Trail #93 - Sedona
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Pretty great area. You start off in pine forests and 40 degree weather on a summer morning. We headed south to the tributary that feeds the canyon, and did some somewhat steep down-bouldering. There is a mandatory swim a few miles in and a mandatory wade just after that. Towards the end you have the option to get wet again or try a thorny bushwhack around. The canyon boxes up on top and is quite beautiful with the black granite boulders contrasting against the yellow coconino sandstone which gives way to the red supai. It's slow going though. I added a mile because we didn't park at the "trailhead".
Woods Canyon Trail #93 - Sedona
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Spring is in motion!

The first mile is dominated by filaree, and lots of it! It's one of the first blooming wildflowers of the season.

Giddy-up, the wildflowers are coming! :wink:

...and what do wildflowers bring, BUTTERFLIES!!!
Spotted countless varieties :)

Nobody going in, nine cars in the lot upon returning.

Thanks to the zumas for the recommendation! The rushing water was awesome. Sound was definitely a stimulant on this outting!

High bandwidth users can enjoy the roaring sound

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.

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From I-17 turn left onto AZ-179 and follow 5.8 miles west. The trailhead shares parking with the Red Rock Ranger District station.

From the Junction of US 89A and 179 in Sedona, head south on 179 and drive about 8.4 miles to a gated, unpaved road on the left (east) at milepost 304.7. Park outside the gate.

For historical purposes these were the old directions before the trailhead was moved... From Phoenix head north on I-17 to EXIT 298 (the Sedona exit) Go east towards Sedona for about 5.5 miles to mile marker 304.8 (if you pass 305 you just missed it) There's a popular wide apron on the right where tourist take photos of the red rock. You won't be parking here, look for the road with the gate. There's a steel sign on the left etched 'Woods Canyon 93'. This isn't the trailhead, drive through the gate (be sure to close it too) It's a short tenth of a mile to the trailhead. Any car should be fine on this road.

1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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