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Secret Canyon Trail #121
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Sedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Hiking May 21 2011
Hiking11.30 Miles 400 AEG
Hiking11.30 Miles   8 Hrs      2.26 mph
400 ft AEG   3 Hrs    Break
1st trip
Linked none no linked descriptions
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My niece called in sick, well I actually called to check on her, for our planned Chiricahua NM hike and camp so I had to quickly come up with a Plan B emailing John and Ambika to see if they wanted to hike this weekend. I came up with the choices of Secret Canyon in Sedona or Rogers Canyon and John threw in the Flatiron. We chose Secret Canyon but Ambika couldn't make it.

So Saturday morning we drove up to Sedona stopping at the 3 yr old Visitors Center to buy a pass that we found out you no longer need. We did get the nice Newsletter/Map combo though. And then it was a matter of round-abouting our way thru Sedona to the Junction with 89A and then west on to the ever awful FR 152 :yuck: . Fortunately Tonto didn't have to make this trip as John volunteered to drive; I'm not sure he realized exactly how rough and tough :stretch: this road was and we pretty much had to stay in first gear the entire road to the TH.

We started hiking around 9:25. The hike starts out across a dry creek and then on to an absolutely wonderful bush-lined (manzanita, etc) trail with views on each side of you from time to time. Eventually you make your way in the direction of a red rock mountain to the east of you. It is really beautiful and has lots to attract your attention. John had his eye on what he thot might be some ruins but upon closer look, it's just an inaccessible alcove. There was also this one rock pillar which stood in the front of the mountain that caught my attention. Upon our return this mountain would be even more fabulous :DANCE: bathed in the afternoon light.

At about the 2.5 mile mark or so, you come to a bit of a plateau and when you turn around, WOW, what a view :y: ! You can see all the white and red mountains and such to the south and east and west. At the same time, you can look down at a crevice/ravine that makes its way west below the trail. It's a marvelous vista :D . The agave are just starting to put on their buds too. It is from here that you turn west. I got a little directionally confused once we were into the foresty part but now looking at the map; I see the obvious error in that.

It's a gradual transition into the combination of forest and canyon walls and creek-following as well as going in and out of the creek beds that are mostly dry. Some of the up and down here gets a bit steep but I don't mind that at all; especially since I didn't have an overnite pack. As we got deeper into the forest, the skies turned grey which actually, in here, helped with the lighting for the photos.

I had read in another trip report from 2001 about there being a path to a carved arch and pool at about the 3.5 mile mark. We looked for such a path but didn't find one. We also kept our eye out for the window in the red rock and didn't see that (though there are a couple photos of it on HAZ) but we did spy a window high above the red rock in the Coconino Sandstone. The trail was somewhat overgrown in some areas and there seemed to be quite a bit of deadfall : rambo : as we got deeper into the Canyon. There was also this magnificent field of lupine on both sides of the trail. It was scrumptious. I was fortunate to get pics in the overcast light and the sun light on the trip back.

John and I didn't stop but once to change the batteries on the GPS so we were starting to get a bit antsy. We finally spotted the dry waterfall though there wasn't much of a clear view of it from above. Reading from the NFS description: @ 5 mi streambed turns sharply L to a chute. Check. It then says return to trail. It should say cross over the chute to the other side where the trail continues. The NFS desc continues: climb sharply (I wouldn't call it sharp) and then the trail levels off at the 5.5 mile mark. Well technically that's true but technically the trail ends at the 5.5 mile mark when you come to solid bedrock where the NFS desc continues: turn back now :doh:.
Well we agreed but had our lunch first and we were starved. We did hear a couple other folks on the trail but they didn't come back this far. On the way back we would see them again at their camp spot next to the David Miller trail sign. On the Secret Canyon trail we only saw 3 others and a dog.

The sun came out as were getting ready to head back. It had been a good day so far and would finish that way :) . It did seem a bit more humid on the way back; especially when we crossed over the creek bottoms. We did get off trail once but quickly found our way back to the main trail. It looked like someone else had made that mistake as well. Once again, I was amazed at the height of the ferns along the way. They were almost as tall as us :o .

We also got the opportunity to witness "the animals" making all that racket. We were walking by a pool where a few frogs were courting. We'd heard them off and on and it was nearing 4PM which seems to be the starting time for more serious courting :kf: . I got a video of one of the frogs while he was croaking in the water (its whole body vibrates thereby causing small wakes in the water) and another while it was jumping up the side of the wall. What was funny is that we encountered those two hikers at the intersection of the David Miller and they asked us if we had heard "the animals" :scared: in the Canyon. They almost didn't believe me when I told them it was a bunch of little frogs :lol: .

We looked again for the window in the red rock and the path to the carved arch and pool to no avail. One of the great parts of this hike would be coming out of the forest to the great vista :DANCE: of red rock country; especially with the sun slowly coming down in the sky. The hues were so incredibly intense including the blue in the sky and red in the rock. It was breath-taking. Another nice thing about this trail is that those last "typically" long (only 2) miles are on such a wonderfully smooth trail. You just can't beat that.

After 8 fun-filled hours of enjoying the wilderness we arrived back at 5:30, had a celebratory beer and hike review :wrt: before taking on the rough and not-so-ready FR 152, and then stopped at my favorite cafe, The Blue Moon, in the Village of Oak Creek (the food and prices area so reasonable). :thanx: John for driving. I look forward to another couple trips out there: one with Fall color and one with running water.

3 videos:
1st is not quite getting to the end of the Secret Canyon Trail (incl some of the drive on FR152): took awhile to get this one going doing to copyright issues with one of the songs I wanted to use.
2nd is getting to the end of the Secret Canyon Trail and starting back:
3rd is returning to the TH incl the Frogs and incredible views as you come out of the forest as well as some of the drive back on FR152:
4th - just "the animal" or Frogs video:
Aircraft johnr1
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.

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