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Parsons Trail #144, AZ
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Some trails take you to a beautiful spot hidden from society. Few offer never ending beauty throughout. Parsons not only packs a punch the entire trail, it continuously changes. Thick groves of corel bean and globemallow among other wildflowers line the trail.


From the trailhead Sycamore Canyon is inviting you to visit. The trail immediately heads down the canyon wall 180 feet to the creek bottom. Within a few steps pass through a gate and close it behind you. Little elevation change is encountered after the initial drop. A junction is encountered and you will be taking the right fork to follow up the canyon. The left option crosses the creek and heads up for a long venture over Packard Mesa to Henderson Flat. The trail starts out very sandy just after the junction.

At 1.1 miles Summers Spring is pumping water next to the trail. Trees canopy this area. I saw a red bird of some sort playing in the coverage. This would be a great hike for those looking for a shorter alternative. After the spring the trail cuts across the creek. Huge quarter ton cairns make route finding a breeze. At first I laughed then realized a monsoon rain would wash away anything less. A large rock lodged in a tree is proof of high currents. After crossing the creek the canyon turns to your left. The creek, although not seen here, loops around and you're actually walking away and towards it at the same time. The trail takes off up a ledge on the left wall and you begin to wonder if you're headed in the right direction. Within steps it angles back down and the canyon bends back.

Ledges with four foot deep crystal clear water line the path in sections. I saw several small fish. According to the trailhead map you cross the creek five times. I didn't keep count but it seems right. Each crossing has it's own challenges but none to tough. It's not hard to stay dry if that's your thing. I sloshed through the shallow water to cool off. Thick growth covers the running water. Small spiders are abundant on the rocks and logs. Huge Sacred Datura wildflowers are amazing. Just stay away as they are poisonous.

A seep crosses the trail. Vegetation is lush including poison ivy! Wild grape ivy dominates throughout the hike. Several small caves line the canyon walls. A hollowed out tree almost big enough to walk through is just off the trail. On the last or second to last (I forget) creek crossing, huge red boulders dot the creek. When the going gets tough the creek ends and it's time to turn around. I couldn't find Parsons Spring. Then again I didn't explore much as 7.4 flat miles isn't my best stride. It was very muddy and the water was cloudy near the point I turned around.

Camping: No camping for 3.7 miles, end of water.
Description 127 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
RatedFavorite  
Wish List 40
 Region
 
0
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 Perkinsville N
Statistics
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,760 feet
Elevation Gain -180 feet
Accumulated Gain 600 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3.5-5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 11
Interest Perennial Creek
Author joebartels
Descriptions 209
Routes 741
Photos 9,410
Trips 3,465 map ( 17,983 miles )
Age 47
Location Phoenix, AZ
Photos
Viewed All Mine Following
27  2017-01-12 TheNaviG8R
9  2016-07-22
Packard Trail #66
NoPal
15  2016-07-03 cw50must
15  2016-04-30 Tortoise_Hiker
14  2015-11-21
Packard / Parsons Loop
Tough_Boots
30  2015-11-21
Packard Parsons Loop
chumley
25  2015-11-21 winotron
19  2015-11-21
Packard Parsons Loop
BiFrost
12  2015-05-09 VolcanoCLMBR
36  2015-02-08 Bradshaws
18  2014-11-29 Richx1
8  2014-05-24 BDanger
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
Map - Beartooth Sedona
Forest Coconino
Wilderness Sycamore Canyon
Backpack   Yes & Possibly Connect
Preferred   Mar, Apr, Oct, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring
Sun  5:18am - 7:33pm
Route Scout
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Official Route
 
Alternative Routes
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Packard Trail #66
0.0 mi away
5.8 mi
1,526 ft
Pasture Tank Trail #9901
3.9 mi away
6.9 mi
1,238 ft
Railroad Draw Trail #68
4.2 mi away
3.2 mi
17 ft
Yew Thicket Trail #52
5.8 mi away
6.1 mi
2,018 ft
Dogie Trail #116
5.8 mi away
5.7 mi
1,101 ft
Taylor Cabin via Dogie Trail - Sycamore Canyon
5.8 mi away
19.3 mi
3,348 ft
[ View More! ]
Fauna
American Rubyspot Damselfly
Black Bear
Black-tailed Rattlesnake
Canyon Tree Frog
Canyon Wren
Checkerspot Butterfly
Flame Skimmer
Giant Centipede
Gila Spotted Whiptail
Greater earless lizard
Leaf-footed Bug
Millipede
Pond Damselfly
Pronghorn
Six-spotted Fishing Spider
Smallmouth Bass
Tarantula
Two-tailed Swallowtail Butterfly
Velvet Ant
Wild Burro
Wild horse
Flora
Arizona Blackberry
Arizona Grape
Arizona Sycamore
Arizona Walnut
Bear grass
Boxelder
Buffalo Gourd
Cattails
Century Plant
Common Mullein
Cottonwood
Delphinium
Desert Globemallow
Engelmann Prickly Pear
Feather Dalea
Fleabane
Fremont Cottonwood
Indian Paintbrush
Jackass Clover
Netleaf Hackberry
New Mexico Thistle
One-seed Juniper
Pampas grass
Poison Ivy
Red Bird of Paradise
Seep Willow
Silverleaf Nightshade
Skunkbush
Tidytips
Unidentified Mushroom or Fungi
Velvet Ash
Virginia Creeper
Whipple Cholla
Wild Heliotrope
Yellow Columbine
Geology
Basaltic Columns
Meteorology
Autumn - Color Foliage
Named place
Ledge Spring - Sycamore Unnamed
Parson's Arched Sycamore
Parsons Spring
Summers Spring
Sycamore Canyon
Sycamore Creek
Culture
Camp-fire
Informational/Interpretive Trail Sign
Mine Shaft
Swimming Hole
Trail Signs and Markings
Exquisite
by joebartels

Some trails take you to a beautiful spot hidden from society. Few offer never ending beauty throughout. Parsons not only packs a punch the entire trail, it continuously changes. Thick groves of corel bean and globemallow among other wildflowers line the trail.


From the trailhead Sycamore Canyon is inviting you to visit. The trail immediately heads down the canyon wall 180 feet to the creek bottom. Within a few steps pass through a gate and close it behind you. Little elevation change is encountered after the initial drop. A junction is encountered and you will be taking the right fork to follow up the canyon. The left option crosses the creek and heads up for a long venture over Packard Mesa to Henderson Flat. The trail starts out very sandy just after the junction.

At 1.1 miles Summers Spring is pumping water next to the trail. Trees canopy this area. I saw a red bird of some sort playing in the coverage. This would be a great hike for those looking for a shorter alternative. After the spring the trail cuts across the creek. Huge quarter ton cairns make route finding a breeze. At first I laughed then realized a monsoon rain would wash away anything less. A large rock lodged in a tree is proof of high currents. After crossing the creek the canyon turns to your left. The creek, although not seen here, loops around and you're actually walking away and towards it at the same time. The trail takes off up a ledge on the left wall and you begin to wonder if you're headed in the right direction. Within steps it angles back down and the canyon bends back.

Ledges with four foot deep crystal clear water line the path in sections. I saw several small fish. According to the trailhead map you cross the creek five times. I didn't keep count but it seems right. Each crossing has it's own challenges but none to tough. It's not hard to stay dry if that's your thing. I sloshed through the shallow water to cool off. Thick growth covers the running water. Small spiders are abundant on the rocks and logs. Huge Sacred Datura wildflowers are amazing. Just stay away as they are poisonous.

A seep crosses the trail. Vegetation is lush including poison ivy! Wild grape ivy dominates throughout the hike. Several small caves line the canyon walls. A hollowed out tree almost big enough to walk through is just off the trail. On the last or second to last (I forget) creek crossing, huge red boulders dot the creek. When the going gets tough the creek ends and it's time to turn around. I couldn't find Parsons Spring. Then again I didn't explore much as 7.4 flat miles isn't my best stride. It was very muddy and the water was cloudy near the point I turned around.

Camping: No camping for 3.7 miles, end of water.
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-

Coconino FS Reports The hike up the Parsons Trail is a pleasant stroll along a cool, clear desert stream set in a magnificent red rock canyon. Sycamore Canyon is a place sufficiently unique to have been one of the first areas protected as wilderness in Arizona. The trail leads through the lower reaches of this wilderness through a riparian area rich in plant and animal life. Colorful cliffs that are a unique mix of dark columnar basalt, red sandstone, and buff colored limestone enclose the lush green of the oasis. The trail leads 4 miles to a large pool called Parson Springs where this considerable stream springs to the surface from the underground course it has followed through the majority of the canyon. Up canyon from this point surface flow only occurs during snowmelt and after summer monsoons.

The limestone layer just above the streambed is riven with small caves. Flat ledges of red sandstone extend to the water's edge. Songbirds flit through the tall cottonwoods and thick mesquite bosques. At a number of points additional springs flow from the canyon walls through gardens of columbine and watercress. All these features combine to make this trail one of the most popular, and one of the most crowded, on the forest. If you visit this truly exceptional place please exercise extra discretion in making sure the impact you create is as slight as possible.

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 $$
None


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To hike
From I-17 take 260 west out of Camp Verde and head on over to Cottonwood. Turn left onto 89A and follow through Old Town Cottonwood on the slow 25mph Main St. Continue on to the Tuzigoot National Monument turn off going right. Soon after turning you cross a good size bridge. Take the first left after the bridge onto Sycamore Canyon Road. After 1.4 miles the pavement ends and your rolling across a washboard hard packed dirt road. At 4.6 miles you cross the Coconino National Forest boundary. The sign at the boundary reads 6 miles to Sycamore Canyon. (It's really only 5.6 miles more as the trailhead is just before the road the dips into the canyon.) From here on the road is called FS 131 not that it really matters. The road is smooth hard packed dirt. There is one creek crossing at about 8.1 miles but nothing to even get worried about. Keep your eyes open for horse grazing in the canyon below. After the 9 mile mark the road gets rougher to the trailhead. The total distance from the turn after bridge is about 10.2 miles.

Location: 76 miles south of Flagstaff (33 miles south of Sedona) on paved and graveled roads.

Access: Drive 65 miles south from Flagstaff on US 89A through Sedona and Cottonwood to the turnoff to Tuzigoot National Monument. Turn north across the Verde River, then left on FR 131. It's about 11 miles to the trailhead.
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
stay out of the scorching sun
prehydrate & stay hydrated
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