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Rattlesnake Canyon - Sedona, AZ

no permit
69 10 0
Guide 10 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Sedona > Sedona SE
2.8 of 5 by 4
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,167 feet
Elevation Gain -1,080 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5-6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 11.4
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
6  2017-01-14 MountainMatt
3  2017-01-14 JoelHazelton
6  2017-01-11 MountainMatt
35  2008-05-09
Woods Canyon Trail #93 - Sedona
Hiker Gal Lauren
5  2005-10-20 desert_boonie
14  2001-04-28 joebartels
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,257 map ( 21,432 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Oct → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:12am - 6:29pm
0 Alternative
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Nice Alternative
by joebartels

Rattlesnake Canyon is the lower tributary to Woods Canyon. The trail data given reflects a hike from the rim to Woods Canyon and back. The canyon is named after the rigid ride to the rim which rattles your nerves. Okay, I made that up! One thing for sure, you won't forget the ride.

The road actually goes down a couple switchbacks before you must park. It's steep but the tilt inward would likely put your nerves on end. There is plenty of room to turn around at the end if you dare. I highly recommend parking at the first sight of the canyon.

Where the road ends you'll have to search a bit for the trail going down. Best described as at the end to the left. This really isn't a maintained hiking trail so it's likely to be overgrown. The route is for workers to service the water gauging station. The trail quickly works down to the bottom of the canyon. An early morning start puts you in the shade. The trail takes you right down to the gauging station. Another twenty feet or so and you come to a steep waterfall. There wasn't much water flow on this trip. It appears to be an awesome site when the creek is flowing.

Now comes the big obstacle. A thirty foot waterfall with canyon walls on both sides. One thing for sure, it's steep! I looked at it and decided to pass. However, I do believe it can be negotiated. It appears to be easier getting up than going down. Should you be nuts enough to give it a go, read that little disclaimer at the bottom of this page. Since I didn't complete the hike I can't say for sure what you'll encounter. The canyon appears to be a small boulder scramble most of the way to Woods Canyon. If my estimates are correct you should come out just south of "Red Rock Beach" in Woods Canyon.

If your a wimp like myself just check out the canyon going away from the waterfall. There's nothing spectacular to mention. The trek is a constant boulder scramble. If you're just passing by to Flagstaff, the hike down to the waterfall is less than an hour roundtrip.

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2001-04-28 joebartels
  • wilderness related
  • Sedona Trails 2018
    region related
    Sedona Trails 2018
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 Review
Rattlesnake Canyon - Sedona
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Rattlesnake Canyon
7:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
August 09, 2003
Kenny & Janice Goff
Rimrock, AZ

The access description has been logged in so I won't duplicate it.

Kenny and I were determined to hike this canyon! We've been in the area many times and loved what we could see "down there".

Yes, we followed the little maintance trail for the gauging station and came to the waterfall drop off. We would have tried it if the red rock hadn't been so slimy.

We went back up and hiked down pass the "fort" wall. Which by the way, we haven't been able to get any info about from the old timers. We followed a trail around the rim until we decided to "commit" and down we went. Thick, tearing, unbalanced, soft and loose. It was certainly a challenge! Gloves and gators made this decent possible.

Due to the shear drop off's we continually came to, we zig zagged down until we came to a rock slide that we could see went to the creek bed. We followed the edge very carefully. Although it is made up of large rocks - it's very unstable.

Some 3 hours after we left our vehicle we were in the bottom of the canyon. Probablly less than 1/2 mile from the gauging station.

From that point we bolder hopped until we came to what some may be calling the "red rock beach" area. This whole streatch was such a visual site!

We came to the intersection of Woods and Rattlesnake Canyon. What an excited witch that area looks to be when water is whipping in there.

After that point, begin to look for a pack trail to your right at the bottom of the mesa. You may or may not find it easily. But sooner or later you will spot it. It made the trip bearable getting out of the creek and on flat land. This pack trail turns into a washed out jeep trail that will bring you all the way to HWY 179. We called a friend who took us back up to our vehicle.

We saw no animals or humans. We did see bear tracks and scat. One bears back foot was a womans size 10 :) Also lion tracks.

It was another awsome day in Arizona! We'll do it again sometime.

Permit $$

Map Drive
Strictly 4x4

To canyon trip
From Phoenix head north on I-17 exit on 306, the Stoneman Lake exit. Head back under I-17 and pretend like your heading back to Phoenix. Don't go to fast though. FR 647 takes off to the west of the exit ramp. It's unmarked and not clearly seen. From the cattle guard it's 0.6 miles to a T in the road. Soon after the cattle guard just a tenth of a mile in you go through a ravine. This may be impassible to cars when muddy or rutted. Continue on the T as mentioned. Hang a right and follow another three quarters of a mile into the canyon. It's rocky rutted 4x4 the last 0.5 miles into the canyon. So if you're in a car you'd need to walk the extra distance. You may be wondering where the canyon is going in. Rest assured it cracks open right when you get to it. The road then turns down into the canyon for a short distance. I didn't take the last turn into the canyon. It's steep and monsoon clouds where forming in the sky above.
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