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West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108
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mini location map2018-05-09
13 by photographer avatarroaminghiker
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West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108Sedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Hiking avatar May 09 2018
roaminghiker
Hiking6.00 Miles 300 AEG
Hiking6.00 Miles
300 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
West Fork trail, at the Call of the Canyon day use area north of Sedona, ranks among the most popular, the most visited, and the most highly rated.

The serious hiker should not be deterred by the popularity, though, for the trail delights the senses. West Fork treats the eyes with enormous, crisp-cut red walls, surmounted by spectacular white peaks, set within towering pines, lush vegetation and of course the flowing waters of West Fork creek. The birds chirp, the insects buzz, the breeze rustles through the trees, and the water splashes through the occasional rapid or rock cascade. Those with a good sense of smell will breath in nuanced scents from the pines, the bushes and the intermittent flower. All this with the coolness of a higher elevation than Sedona and the shade of a much more generous coverage of trees.

The trail provides these delights with a reasonably invigorating hike. Unlike say Bell Rock, viewable with a short walk, or even from a scenic overlook, a full experiencing of West Fork involves traversing a round trip of about seven miles and navigating a good two dozen stream crossings counting those in both directions.

Part of the challenge involves navigating the crowds. Arriving early helps. The Call of the Canyon area offers only limited parking, paid, and will fill up, and only about 15 free off-road spots exist on 89A, with those a not short distance north. Arrival at 7:30 AM should garner an off-road spot, or a place safely in the waiting line for the 8 AM opening of the paid parking. Safely means that literally, since the waiting line can extend out onto 89A.

Note the really early can grab one of a handful of paid spots in Call of the Canyon parking but that sit outside the metal gate. I would say try to grab one by 6:30 to 7 AM. You will need to use a self-registration envelope to pay for the outside-the-gate Call of the Canyon spot. Why not just use off-road rather that an early self-registration, aka paid, spot? Well you save a bit of walking, you get a safer parking sport, and if you have kids they don’t need to walk along the narrow side shoulder of Route 89A.

As noted earlier, West Fork sports a good number of stream crossings. But unlike Oak Creek itself, where strength, dexterity and daring must be summoned to cross the often strong current and deep waters, the West Fork crossings involve depths less than a foot and often feature rocks placed in the stream. But becoming complacent after many successful crossings can lead to wet boots and soggy socks from careless slips. And do be aware that a recent rain could ramp up the crossing difficulty.

West Fork can be navigated sockless with hiking sandals, rather than boots, since the trail consists mostly of sand under foot, and limited stretches of rock or sharp climbs. Such sandals reduce the effort of the stream crossings; once can just walk right through the water. But the prized benefit emerges at the end of trail. There, the walls of the West Fork canyon narrow to the creek’s edge. The hiker must wade through the water to go further. Boots will not work, unless you enjoy the hike out in completely drenched footwear, nor will going barefoot, unless your feet can handle a rocky stream bed. Hiking sandals provide a one-pair-of-footwear option to continuing further.
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