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Loy Canyon - Secret Mountain, AZ
mini location map2020-09-20
17 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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Loy Canyon - Secret Mountain, AZ 
Loy Canyon - Secret Mountain, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Sep 20 2020
John10s
Hiking16.11 Miles 2,746 AEG
Hiking16.11 Miles   7 Hrs   51 Mns   2.37 mph
2,746 ft AEG   1 Hour   4 Mns Break
 
1st trip
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TboneKathy
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
I’ve hiked In Loy Canyon many times before, but all of my previous visits were spent almost entirely off-trail to explore various cliff dwellings in the area, and I'd never actually hiked the full length of the trail. The plan today was to hike from Loy to Secret Mountain and check out Secret Cabin and some of the overlooks up above the canyons. Loy is a great option for socially-distanced hiking during the pandemic, but apparently others have come to that same conclusion. I'd never seen more than two or three people all day on my previous visits, but this time I passed 5-10 backpackers hiking out during the first mile or two of the hike.

When I picture Loy Canyon, the first thing that comes to mind is the red rocks and ruins from the earlier portions of the trail. The one time I hiked a little farther into the canyon, I remember thinking that the scenery became a little underwhelming by Sedona standards because the foliage blocked so much of the view of the canyon. But this time I was pleasantly surprised as I hiked farther back and the walls transitioned from red to white and towered over the canyon. I'd always thought of Loy as a relatively flat trail, not unlike Long Canyon, but the last mile and half gets much steeper, and the views looking out over the white walls and down into Loy were as unexpected as they were beautiful.

I would have loved to see Hidden Cabin, but time didn't allow it, so my hiking partner and I turned right when we reached the intersection with Secret Mountain Trail and headed for the rim. All three tanks (Johnson, Masonry, and Concrete Tank) were dry, but we enjoyed a quick lunch break at Secret Cabin before continuing along the rim. There was quite a bit of fire damage in places, but the forest has started to regrow in some of those areas.

The views along the rim were incredible--I'll have to take a closer look at a topo map to confirm which canyon(s) we were looking into...I suspect it was Hart Well, as I know we didn't get far enough east along the rim to look down into Boynton or Long. Around eight miles in, we figured we needed to turn around, and we stopped at one more vista for some pictures. It would have been great to hike to the end of the trail, but there was still a drive back to Phoenix and the ever-present risk of weekend I-17 traffic to take into account, so we decided we'd better start back. I'll have to return and start from Secret Mountain Trailhead sometime and hike the full length of the trail so I can see the rest of the overlooks and Hidden Cabin.

There were early signs of fall down in Loy, with some reds and yellows starting to show up among the green. After the summer we've had in Phoenix, it's easy to forget that it's late September. The crowds were considerably thinner on the way out, but we could see a group of five or six people up at the cliff dwellings. About a mile before we got back to the trailhead, we heard some kind of large animal making noise in the brush, and a flock of birds scattered, but we never did see what was there, and that's probably for the best. And before the end of the hike, we had to take a wide berth around the barking dog from Hancock Ranch...they really need to fix their fence--that dog must spend the whole day barking at hikers.

We finished with just over 16 miles on a beautiful day. I definitely want to come back and see the rest of Secret Mountain sometime. Sure enough, I-17 was full of traffic jams on and off on the way back to Phoenix...but a great day of hiking.

dry Concrete Tank Dry Dry

dry Johnson Tank Dry Dry

dry Masonry Tank Dry Dry
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