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Seldom Used Spur
The H.S. Canyon Trail is a rarely hiked spur trail that branches off from the Secret Canyon Trail. If you are doing a number of short trails in the area, or you don't have time to do Secret Canyon but want to see some of the area, this may be a good option for you. If you can get to the Secret Canyon Trail, you can reach H.S. Canyon with ease. The only obstacle may be high water on the normally dry, Dry Creek. The day I did H.S., the creek was running with snow melt, but it wasn't hard to get across.
H.S. Canyon Trail is reached by taking the Secret Canyon Trail about 2/3 to 3/4 of a mile from the parking area. The first creek crossing is at the start of the Secret Canyon Trail, and the H.S. Canyon Trail junction is just after the second creek crossing. At the junction of the two trails there is a small metal sign that marks the entrance to H.S., and it may be easy to miss if not paying attention.
Once on the H.S. Canyon Trail, you might notice that the trail narrows and starts to become overgrown. This trail sees very few hikers, and when I did it on the 13th of February, 2010, the trail had leaves on it which appeared to have never been crushed by foot traffic. There were numerous shrub branches hanging over the trail, and the further I went in, the harder it got to proceed. There were a few spots where I needed to look for cairns as the trail was hard to distinguish from the wash it paralleled and crossed, and the vegetation made it confusing. According to the Forest Service, the trail ends up as a series of switchbacks that take you to a view of a box canyon. I ended up stopping sometime before that to relax at a view of some canyon walls, or at least I think I did. My friend who continued on a little further up trail told me that there appeared to be nothing like that, and in fact the trail eventually just dwindled down to a bushwhack. I had to ascend a couple of switchbacks to reach the spot I relaxed at, and I did have a view of a canyon, but I don't know if I was actually at the official end of the trail or not. I suspect that unless there is maintenance done to the H.S. Canyon Trail, few people will ever know. I had to get through a short stretch of trail that was basically a bushwhack, so it may be that the trail opened up shortly after my friend turned back. Maybe YOU! can penetrate this mystery!
I don't want to paint a picture that this is a horrible trail. I enjoyed my hike for the most part, and I can see this being a really nice, quiet place to view and listen to neo-tropical migrants in spring. While relaxing at my turn around point I had the pleasure of viewing and listening to a Western Scrub Jay calling in it's territory. It is very pretty back there, and if you find crowds irritating, it can a be an isolated canyon to visit. It is worth a trip once, and autumn is probably a nice time of year as maples are numerous the further in you go. As with all Sedona canyons, the late day sun on the canyon walls is always a nice thing to see.
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Coconino FS Details
This is an infrequently used trail. It is sufficiently shaded to allow hiking in summer.
Start on Secret Canyon Trail. Its signed trailhead is across the usually dry streambed of Dry Creek, west of the parking area. It immediately enters Wilderness. Follow this wide, nearly flat trail for 2/3 mile and look for the sign for HS Canyon Trail on the left. The trail climbs gradually in the shade of oak and alligator juniper.
At about 1.5 miles from the parking area, views of red rock formations open up. The trail narrows further as it climbs moderately beside the small canyon drainage. At 2.25 miles, the trail approaches the sheer face of Maroon Mountain and switchbacks up to a small clearing for nice views of the mountain and the end of the box canyon. Return by the same route for a 5 mile rountrip hike.
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.