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Fay Canyon Trail #53, AZ

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Guide 71 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Sedona > Sedona NW
3.7 of 5 by 29
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 2.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,600 feet
Elevation Gain 155 feet
Accumulated Gain 155 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 2.98
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Ruins
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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15  2018-04-07
A day with Fay
11  2018-04-07 joebartels
7  2018-01-29 AZBeaver
29  2017-06-01
Robbers Roost - Sedona
10  2017-04-14 eagleloc
1  2016-08-23 emptypockets
6  2015-05-26 RazorbackHiker
4  2015-03-15 Justeen
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,834
Trips 4,261 map ( 21,471 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:15am - 6:24pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
trapdoor to heaven
by joebartels

Likely In-Season!
The Fay Canyon Trail #53 goes just over a mile. The official trail ends at a split of two boxed canyons.

The trail is wide and easy travel.

A use-trail leads up to the arch at 0.6 mi. Be on the lookout as it blends in until you realize the huge arch. The trek up through scrub terrain gets the heart pumping for only 300 feet of elevation gain. Sinaguan Indians may have built in the area, but the ruins beside the arch are definitely twentieth century. Ten feet from the protruding wall the arch appears flush. It spans over ninety feet only 15 feet max above the ground below.

You reach an end of trail sign at 1.1 miles just before the canyon splits.

It appears popular to explore the west canyon. Probably because it's easy travel. It has a nice towering end but the forest is toast from a fire. East is a treasure trove of exploring. If you find the Fay Pipeline you are close to heaven.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2018-04-12 joebartels
  • wilderness related
  • Fay Canyon Trail #53 Map
    guide related
    Fay Canyon Trail #53 Map
  • Sedona Trails 2018
    region related
    Sedona Trails 2018

Coconino FS Details
Most people come to Fay Canyon to see the natural arch that's located just under a mile up the trail. But those who don't know about it usually walk right past it. Though the Fay Canyon Arch is by no means small, it looks so much like an ordinary rock overhang it's easy to glance right at it and not realize what you've seen. If you keep watching the rock wall to the north (right) side of the trail sooner or later you'll spot it. Then the short, steep trail up to the arch can be a little hard to locate too.

After you've found the arch you may want to continue on up the trail. This small, hidden canyon supports a diverse community of desert plants and provides good views of the surrounding cliffs. The trail follows an old jeep track which eventually turns into a footpath. It dead ends at a red Supai sandstone cliff where you can see evidence of some ancient Indian dwellings and marvel at the breathtaking scenery that surrounds you.
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 15 deeper Triplog Reviews
Fay Canyon Trail #53
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It was a beautiful day. I did a easy hike with my dad. We went up to the Fay Canyon Arch. There was a family of crows living on in the rocks. I didn't bring my zoom lens so I lost an opportunity to take a picture of the babies. Than we went to the end of the trail. We turned right and followed the dry wash and found some ruins at the end. We went fairly early so there was not as many people. There was no one at the ruins or the arch.
Fay Canyon Trail #53
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Sedona - Mescal Mt / Fay / Pumphouse
Headed to Sedona with a friend in hopes of snow and adventure. Snow was forecasted starting late morning and would build as the day progressed. We would spend the day exploring Mescal Mountain, Fay Canyon and Pumphouse Wash.

We started off at the Long Canyon TH and started a CCW loop around Mescal Mountain. We checked out a couple of alcoves and looped around. The views were nice and dark clouds were developing. We completed the loop and then drove over to Fay Canyon. We headed up that canyon and bypassed the arch, we've both been there before, and topped out near the end of the trail sign. During this time a light snow started falling.

After Fay, we ate lunch and then headed up 89A. We opted for Pumphouse Wash. At this point, this entire area had a solid dusting of snow. We parked right outside the wash and headed in. It was slow as we enjoyed this amazing canyon. We took a variety of pics and went about a mile in. At this point it was getting late in the day and we wanted to head back.

The drive home turned into an adventure. We headed north for the I-17 and snow started falling again. We hit the I-17 and found a standstill for miles and miles. We ultimately turned around and headed back down 89A and got home at least two hours later than we should have. Despite this, it was a really nice day. We were a tad early for the snow but got a small taste. This would develop into a solid storm over the next few days.
Fay Canyon Trail #53
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Returned to Fay 2 months shy of 20 years. Then as a stone cold tourist it registered as done, what's next? My perspective changed minutes into the overdue return. The trail albeit a smidgen sandy for the peanut gallery is wide, easy grade and surrounded by more trees than I recall.

Exploring the upper east canyon was the highlight. I didn't care for the west. The forest was scorched and I was more interested in other planned hikes. Totally wrote it off, later found a reason to return someday.

We hit the obligatory arch on the way out.

nothing to write home about, best I've seen in this record bone dry year
Fay Canyon Trail #53
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A day with Fay
I'd only been to the Arch on this one.
Today we wanted to do the trail and extend it into some canyon exploration.
We passed but one couple on the way to the sign at the end of one mile, marking the end of the maintained trail.

We opted for the north canyon first. There is a decent use trail that we followed up and around to the right. When we reached the wall on the way up, we went left first, to go around the canyon, to get to the sweet view point.
:next: [ youtube video ]

Next we went right to see it the crack we saw would get us up to the top. Practicing safety first, Joe waited while I went up. There is an interesting slot that you can crawl through to get views of the Canyon you just came up. Next, I passed the Ruins and looked for the remaining route up. I found it, but thought it best to get back to Joe before he tried following... which he was trying. I slapped his nose with a newspaper.

Back, down and off to the other ruins we saw from the previous viewpoint.

Next we were checking out the westerly canyon up here, looking at a potential route to the top of Bear Mountain. From the other side of the canyon we spotted a route that looked "doable". After negotiating it for a bit with no problem, we decided it would be better attacked from above, when we were planning for a longer loop.

We headed back down canyon towards the official end of trail and went west on the use trail there. There were a lot more family type hikers on the beginning portion of this route. This has some worthy views, but is a one and done for me.

We hit the arch on the way out, because we had to.

Fay Canyon Trail #53
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After Doe Mountain we drove over to the Fay Canyon Arch parking lot and geared up for this hike. Our plan was to take an extended lunch break below the arch. This is our third hike of the day and we have one more planned afterward. The trail to Fay Canyon Arch is in fantastic condition and is a perfect tourists hike. We made quick time and could see the arch after a few minutes of hiking. We continued on and came to a spot where there are cairns and someone scratched “ARCH” with an arrow pointing the way. The climb to the arch is a little rocky and loose but not difficult. Once at the arch we took a variety of pics and settled in for our lunch. We were sitting in the shade and a cool breeze was blowing through. This is a great spot! After roughly 30 minutes we decided to return to the jeep and head over for Soldier Pass for our last hike of the day.
Fay Canyon Trail #53
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After Parting Ways with Wade and Mary Jo, I decided to check out Fay Canyon and see if there was a cool Spot for a Sunset there as well...I had passed it on the way in and it looked very cool...I only went in about 1/2 Mile and then went up...I don't think I went as far as the Turnoff for the Arch as I didn't want to go that Deep in for Sunset. I do think there is more than one "Spur" Trail in there...There were "use" Trails all over the North Slope...Decided that this area wasn't really where I wanted to be for a Sunset, so I came down and went out, driving further down the Road to another Area for what turned out to be a totally non-color Sunset.... :sweat: After finally giving up at near Dark, I headed for Home....

I'm going to be back here though...This whole Area is intriguing and looks awesome for Hiking in Canyons...
Fay Canyon Trail #53
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Second hike of the day after doing Doe Mountain.

Took the relatively flat Fay Canyon trail all the way to the rockfall then decided to turn around and see the Arch. No other hikers around and that made it pretty cool. Drank my liter of water, washing down my favorite Almond Snickers, yum :wlift: and headed back to the car.

Was worth the short hike, the arch is pretty impressive. The sides look very climbable (w/ropes) and I'd like to return someday with someone to see if we could get on top!!

My next stop was Honanki, but after driving the 30+ minutes out there, found out it was closed!!! :(
Fay Canyon Trail #53
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mellow hike in fay canyon with my mom and my brother
went up to the arch, as i missed it last time i was here
my mom made it up about 3/4 of the way and got a good view of it
went about a mile in where there is a giant wire cairn basket near a jumble of big rocks
you can go further but we called it at this point
lovely afternoon
Fay Canyon Trail #53
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I finished off my hike at Doe Mtn, jumped in Tonto, ate a banana, grabbed some pics of some of the flora near the parking lot and re-geared for my hike up Faye Canyon.

It was getting warm but there was still a gentle breeze that provided some cooling. I wasn't sure if I was going to do the Arch first and then head for the Box Canyon or vis versa. I decided because it was a bit warm, I better do the elevation first. This was a good choice. I left my directions back in Tonto but I remembered that the turn was at .6. I turned slightly before that and ended up on a trail that petered out quickly... thank goodness. I headed back on the trail for less than a tenth when I saw the cairn (they say sometimes the cairn isn't there) and headed across the dry creek bed toward where the Arch would be.

About 1/4 of the way up I look and see the Arch so I stop for a movie. A few more steps later I encounter my 2nd Whiptail lizard of the day so of course, I have to pursue for a photograph as this is a male with the pretty turquoise coloring. As I continue up I can hear some folks above me though I can't see them. I'm very near the bottom of the Arch when I see a fellow on top. I know the trail to the top goes to the right so I headed that way but it was too soon so I cross back to the trail that takes you to the bottom of the Arch.

I see a few folks there but immediately take the path, such as it is, to the right as my immediate goal is to get on top of the Arch. There are a few tricky areas (slippery and just a little exposure). I encountered the one fellow coming back across and since this is more or less a one hiker path, it was a situation where I took the inside and he got around me. Nothing like encounters of the close kind. At least he was cute!

After scrambling to level with the top of the Arch, I finally made my way across. There is a big rock up there that made the perfect tripod for my camera so I even did a self-portrait :) . I walked across to the other side of the Arch and sat down for a quick snack and soak up the moment. I decided it was too warm so I made my way back down, missing the immediate right turn but was able to scramble over to the Arch wall and back over to under the Arch.

I put my pack down as my umbrella had come loose in the scramble with a bush. I decided it was still too early for lunch so I just went to the other side under the Arch and sat down to enjoy the moment :DANCE: and take a movie. Meanwhile I had been discussing with myself if I wanted to call it good and head over to Boynton or continue on the Faye Canyon Trail to the Box Canyon I had read about. The Box Canyon won out so down I went.

Before I knew it I was at the end of the official trail. Well that was quick. I took my picture of the rock formation in front of me and this beautiful bush that was decked out in what looked like white lilac blooms. It was spectacular :kf: . I remember from what I read to head left and you would reach this bench that would provide awesome views. So once again, UP I scrambled on loose rocky terrain but it was short and sweet and before you knew it, yep, as advertised FABulous views :y: . Plus I love hiking on this kind of a bedrock shelf.

I had talked to some folks at the end of the trail and I heard them try to scramble up after me but I never did see them even though I turned around a couple times. Anyway, I kept walking north (I think) along this totally cool shelf. There were times when it didn't look like you could get through due to brush or a tree but if you looked closely at the ground, you could continue on. But not so fast, brush-closing-in-on-you-breath, as pretty soon, I was having to get way low, turn, shimmy, duck and all those fun things :yuck: I hear you more crazy hikers do.

Little did I know it was going to get worse :o . It was getting closer to 1 and I was getting really hungry so I decided the next decent area with shade, I was going to plop myself down and eat. That would mean I would have around 3.5 miles or so to finish the hike. I didn't realize until I went to throw my pack back on what a tight area I had tucked myself into right on the trail.

So onward I went : rambo : . Soon I would head slightly down into a drainage area that had 4 cairns in it. I assumed I should head down the drainage to find what I thot was the Box Canyon. Well this was not easy going but I decided to go another 1/2 mile at most and if I didn't see any positive signs of some sort, I would head back. At one point I had to get on my knees to get under this fallen tree and immediately got up in pain :cry: as my right knee has still not healed from my fall 3 weeks prior. Soon I would forget about the pain as I continued just a little further :gun: through, around, under and over trees and boulders.

I gave thot to the fact that only my brother and Ambika have any inkling where I'm at as I told them I would be doing 3 different hikes in Sedona. And like many of us now, I think of GPS Joe's family misfortune and that I was still recovering from a serious face plant a few weeks ago... Alas, I said to myself, "THIS is ridiculous! Turn around". Since I had been battling with my pole and closed umbrella hanging up on all the brush I took off my pack and tried to get these items more compact and closer to my pack.

I headed back UP the tree/boulder clogged drainage trying to keep my pole and umbrella with me as they still hung up where I would have to shimmy and slither to get unattached to the brushery that seemed to believe I should stay a little longer [-X . I seemed to get back to the 4 cairned area quickly. I decided I would rest for a moment. As I was sitting there I could see what looked like a trail north? up the hill. As much as I hated the idea of going up this slick looking hill, I decided, "I had come this far, I was in the shade, Let's go for it!". I scrambled up the hill only to find a dead-end. At least from what I could see as it was totally clogged with brush and trees and no cairns or pathway to be seen. So I threw in the towel :out: . (Could it be this somewhat circle of cairns meant the end of the trail?)

I was glad to get out of that drainage and up to where I could see blue sky again :) . Part way back I stopped at this one tree that I was crawling over and decided the curvature of the tree and placement of the boulder was perfect for a rest :zzz: , even though I didn't need one. It provided a little shade and I was getting a nice breeze. After all, it was still early, I had plenty of time to get back so why not enjoy the respite. It is now the TibberTree : queen : .

The views continued to amaze especially as the haze had now seemed to disappear from the far south of the valley. I got back to the End of the Trail and pulled my umbrella out for the rest of the hike. I ran into some way older hikers, one who would fall (I'm surprised he was even out there) and quite a few others on the way. Almost all of them asked about my chrome dome and seemed delighted at the idea of getting one for themselves. Even though it was warm and I had been beaten up pretty good :stretch: , I was still distracted along the way by the flora and scenery.

When I arrived at Tonto and was putting away my gear, a lady came up to me and asked if I was familiar with the area. I told her "Well not really but let me see if I can help" as she showed me the map she was using. It does really look complicated cuz it has so much stuff on it. Basically what she needed was a ride back to her car that was parked along Dry Creek Road to the south of the resort. I happily obliged, glad that I could provide a favor for a fellow hiker. She was from FL and had driven up from Phx to get a little jog in that ended up being longer and hotter than she anticipated.

Here is my shorter video for this part of my hiking day:

Oh, to finish off my day I stopped at the Blue Moon Cafe in the Village of Oak Creek to have the always wonderful patty melt/homemade chips and black cherry creme soda :) . In fact, I ordered another soda to drink on the way back to Phx.
Fay Canyon Trail #53
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I had never been to Fay Canyon before, and I must say I was quite impressed! Derek and I drove down from Flag for an 8 AM start. The arch was everything I expected (and didn't expect), though it's still pretty cool in its own right. The forest along the trail was sometimes overgrown but very enjoyable, especially with the morning frost. For the most part, it seemed pretty similar to Boynton, but I thought the ending was quite awesome. The trail ends at an outcrop of sandstone with a sweet panoramic view of the area. There are numerous (dry) waterfalls, although one of the higher up ones had a trickle. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, but no worries, I'll be back in the spring to try and catch the waterfalls in action! I might just have to rate this as a 5....

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.

Red Rock - Secret Mountain Wilderness
see map for camping restrictions

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From the 'Y' in Sedona ( 179/89A ) follow 89A 3.1 miles Southwest to Dry Creek Road. Turn Right and go 2.8 miles to Boynton PASS Road. Turn Left and go 2.7 miles, look for a parking area on the Right. There is a rusty metal sign designating Fay Canyon Trail #53
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