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Red Rock State Park - Circumference, AZ
mini location map2016-04-26
16 by photographer avatarblack_toes
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Red Rock State Park - Circumference, AZ 
Red Rock State Park - Circumference, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 26 2016
Hiking3.37 Miles 733 AEG
Hiking3.37 Miles   3 Hrs   5 Mns   1.89 mph
733 ft AEG   1 Hour   18 Mns Break
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
After three failures to hike elsewhere over three days around Sedona due to late arrival, bad weather and over-flow parking lots, we settled on Red Rock, which is several miles S of town. It turned out to be a surprisingly pleasant experience. Highlights: Great views of the red sandstone formations nearby like Cathedral Rock, Seven Warriors and Three Sisters not to mention a full shot at massive Wilson Mountain to the N and the lush Oak Creek riparian area. As a bonus, the park, which borders on 4,000' el, was in full wildflower season. A cover of small purplish flowers of what we thought were Feathery Dalea dominated the entire park.

The only bad thing was the entrance fee of $7 per person. No thanks to the stingy Republican legislature which has cut off funding for state parks. Now the parks must fend for themselves. Thus the steep fees, short hours (8-5) and staff shortages. Whatever, Red Rock's trails were in fine fettle and the one ranger, borrowed for the day from Slide Rock, was helpful.

Unlike at Soldier Pass TH on the other side of Sedona, there was little traffic at Red Rock. The attractive Visitors Center had only a few passing through, gathering info, checking out the exhibits, etc.

We told the ranger we were looking for a 4-5 mi hike, and he showed us a high route on the hillsides around the perimeter using five trails: Smoke, Eagles Nest, Coyote Ridge, Javelina and Bunkhouse. He said we cound start on the W side and get the elevation gain "out of the way quickly" or begin on the Bunkhouse Tr on the E and get the elevation gradually. We chose the W and the Eagles Nest Tr.

By far, I thought, the Eagles Nest was the best segment of the hike. After dipping down to swift Oak Creek and crossing it on two small wood bridges, the trail switchbacks fairly steeply in 3/4 mi through wildflower heaven to Eagles Nest Overlook. This vista point hovers about 200' above the VC and parking lot and delivers great views of Cathedral Rock et al. An interpretative map shows nearby rock formations and lists their names. Nearby houses and noise of a chainsaw cutting wood was a downer.

We picked up the Coyote Ridge Tr about 1.5 mi out. The VC is always in view here. Beyond lay several waterfall areas. Though dry now, you can imagine their potential in wet times. After only .20 mi, Coyote Ridge ends and the Javelina Tr begins. The Javelina swings around the SE corner of the park and offers the closest view of Three Sisters. All along the perimeter there are trails like the Kisva and Apache Fire heading down toward the VC. Grey Fox Overlook and Cathedral Rock Vista provided nice views. From those stops it is all downhill back to the VC via the longest pedestrian bridge in the park, the Kingfisher, and finally the Bunkhouse Tr.

Although the ranger had said 4 1/2 mi, our route came more than a mile short of that, though we followed his directions to a tee, I thought. We decided not to do the little thumb that is the Yavapai Ridge Tr nor did we go out the short distance to the "East Gate Access" with its way to four trails: Turkey Creek, Cathedral Bike Loop, House Mountain and Baldwin. It's too bad a shortage of funds has nipped off the best times to view and photograph the beautiful red rock formations from this unique location, at sunrise and sunset. But nice day, 60s with scattered cumulus and light breeze. I'd do this park again, any day.
Feather Dalea
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