Indian Ruins & Secret Mountain
Note: steep, rocky sections in the last mile & half
The Loy Canyon Trail (#5) begins at the entrance to the Hancock Ranch, on FS-525. The trail heads uphill along the fence line of the ranch, making a left turn after a short distance where it drops back downhill along the eastern side of the ranch. (You will be passing through private property along this section, please respect the ranch owners wishes and remain on the trail.) Soon, you will be treated to a quaint view of the ranch, backed by Loy Butte.
Just beyond the ranch, on the west (left) side of the trail, a large natural amphitheatre can be seen in the face of Loy Butte. According to several guidebooks, there should be a number of small cliff dwellings in this area. I did not search for them on this trip, but when the weather is cooler, I will likely return to do so. The trail through this lower section of the canyon is very scenic with views of Loy Butte and the western face of Secret Mountain. The trail here passes through thick, soft sand and is very open. Gradually the trail begins to climb higher and the canyon closes in more.
After about 3 1/2 miles you'll be in a more forested area and the trail will take a noticeable turn to the northeast, becoming steeper. Great views down the canyon can be found all along this section. About 1/2 mile later, the trail makes a sudden steep climb and switchbacks to the west. The trail emerges from pines into a manzanita forest, becoming more open. After a series of about four long, very steep and rocky switchbacks, the trail levels off below the edge of the Mogollon Rim and heads east toward a saddle between Secret Mountain and the Rim. There is one more climbing section, another short level section and then suddenly, you're back in the trees and on the saddle. This saddle is quite narrow at the top, with the eastern side sloping off into Secret Canyon and the right side sloping into the head of Loy Canyon. The trail connects here to the Secret Mountain Trail(#109), which can be followed south out onto Secret Mountain to Secret Cabin, and several scenic overlooks. To the north, the trail ascends a short distance to the top of the Mogollon Rim at FS-538.
Coconino FS Reports This easy to hike trail leads up a desert wilderness canyon offering excellent views not only at trail's end, but all along the way as well. The wide, well constructed path was used by the Samuel Loy family on the 1880's to move their livestock to and from summer pastures on the rim. The trail starts out by skirting the fence line of the Hancock Ranch. Sheer cliffs of vermilion and buff sandstone form a colorful backdrop for the desert garden of manzanita, catclaw, cholla and prickly pear that carpets the canyon floor. Natural rock sculptures carved by flash floods and spring runoff that seasonally course down this normally dry streambed provide scenic settings for lunch stops along the way. If there's been a recent rain the sculpture may include a picturesque reflecting pool or a natural bathtub for a cool dip on a hot day. Underground moisture is sufficient year-round to support a desert riparian area rich in bird and other animal life.
Near the end of the canyon, the trail completes the majority of the 1680 foot climb to a high saddle that leads to the top of a mesa called Secret Mountain. Here you can continue along the Secret Mountain Trail for more spectacular overlooks or catch your breath for the return trip and a different perspective on all that you've passed through on the hike up.
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.