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Taylor Cabin via Dogie Trail - Sycamore Canyon
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mini location map2010-11-13
25 by photographer avatarjuliachaos
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Taylor Cabin via Dogie Trail - Sycamore CanyonSedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 13 2010
Hiking23.70 Miles 4,000 AEG
Hiking23.70 Miles   12 Hrs   40 Mns   1.87 mph
4,000 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
There's a lot you can't always tell about a hike until you actually get out there and do it. For me, this was one of those hikes, but not for the typical reasons.

Before I start on the actual triplog, I just want to point out a few things for anyone who is just skimming through to get an idea of what this hike is like:

1.) the hike, as posted, is not a loop hike. The posted description ONLY covers the trail as it runs from Dogie TH to Sycamore Cyn to the Taylor Cabin turnoff. Then it's back the way you came. This is probably why some triplogs say, "It's listed as 18 miles, but we got 20+ on our GPS."

2.) the trail is well-cairned and very clear, unless you are traveling past Taylor Cabin. About 11 miles in, the trail repeatedly crosses the canyon and it is very easy to lose your route. We tried to add some cairns to help out, but weren't able to add some very important ones because we were lost at the time and did not want to confuse anyone else coming through. If you are going past the cabin and doing this as a loop, bring a good method of navigation, be it your map & compass and/or your GPS. Pants and long sleeves are also a good option, as past the cabin it gets extremely brushy in areas. Most of the bushes have thorns on them, and there are tons of prickly pears on the trail. The Taylor Cabin trail that climbs up to the road also has tons of deadfall across it.

3.) as posted elsewhere, Casner Mountain Trail is not a trail, but a road. I hear the views are great (we were up there at night), but the terrain itself, in my opinion, is not worth the beating. Mooney may be a better option as a shuttle hike, but I have not been on that trail.

4.) no matter what route you end up taking, no matter how enjoyable or strenuous it be, this trail is WORTH IT! Beautiful views, lots of great areas to play around in, and just altogether an awesome area. Enjoy it!

Okay, now onto my own personal triplog. ;)

Camped up on 525C the night before to stay close to the TH. We ended up getting a little bit of a late start thanks to the morning chill (gotta have that morning hot cocoa to wake up and warm up!). We weren't too worried, however, and packed our headlamps away as it was almost certain we'd need them. Got started on the trail at 9 am and it soon became clear we should have started earlier, because the area was just gorgeous! This seems to be the perfect weather/time of year to do this hike. Some trees were still golden, but lots had already lost their leaves. Admired not just the trees, but also the rock and all its interesting formations. It's kind of nice to hike with a fellow climber, as we both share a sort of unique interest in certain qualities of the rocks. We also noted how often the trail seemed to change environments. One moment the hike was clear desert, the next it was like being back in the midwest, and the next it could be an all-out junglefest. Each little area was spectacular in and of itself.

We ended up going past the Taylor Cabin and continuing onward for a loop hike. It's very clear that at this point forward, trail maintenance ceased quite a while ago. At first, the trail was just a little overgrown but not too difficult to figure out. Then the thorn bushes started in, and finally the prickly pears that had started overrunning the trail in large stretches. We managed to navigate through everything without donating too much blood, and then finally reached the point in the trail 11 miles in where everything just goes to pumpkin.

At this point, the trail crossing the canyon looked like all the other crossings: one large cairn where it hits the canyon, and then a giant boulder field inside the canyon. Picking out a cairn in an area like this can be tough, but we'd learned from prior experience that the trail almost always continues directly across from the cairn. So we went that way, and thought we'd found another cairn that had just been knocked over. We set the cairn back up, and then continued on what we were hoping was trail. It soon became clear that we were just grasping at straws, and went back to our cairn. After knocking it over, we continued down the canyon (north/northeast), looking for another cairn on the other side. Came upon a couple cairns IN the canyon (piece of wood sticking straight up out of rocks) and then finally another cairn on the east bank. Longer description shortened, we made a huge loop around while trying to look for another cairn or some trail, and then decided it wasn't over there. Thus, one hour and one mile was wasted. We began to discuss going back the way we came at this point, as it was almost 4pm and we didn't want to get stuck out there if the route-finding was going to be this bad. Finally decided to continue up the canyon and look on both sides for more cairns, because nothing made sense any longer. Finally found a cairn on the west bank (!) and built a larger cairn in front of it to make it clearer. Relieved, we followed that trail up and out of the canyon. I wish I could say it got a lot better after this, but we again encountered lots of overgrown trail. In one area it was so bad that the trail actually stopped at a giant wall of trees, thorns, and cactus. There was absolutely no way through without a machete, and so we were forced to go around and try to pick out the slim tracings of trail on the other side. Another 20 minutes wasted, and then finally back onto a trail again. Came across the intersection that led to the Winter Cabin Trail, which was in even worse shape and made us extremely thankful that that wasn't our destination! The trail crossed Sycamore Canyon one last time, and then we were on our way through Jack's Canyon, which is strikingly beautiful. Made the slow ascent out of the canyon and through the forest (lots and lots and lots of deadfall on the way up), and made it up to the road at the top just in time to watch the last rays of sunshine die away. We were happy to not have to navigate any longer, and walked the rough, uneventful road all the way back to the car.

I think if I did this hike again (and it's highly possible), I'd start at Casner/Mooney and get it out of the way first so I could really enjoy the rest of the hike. Also might bring a machete along.. some of that stuff is just ridiculous. Great hike, though. Definitely worth every scratch, muscle ache, blister, and bit of frustration that I spent on it. :D
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