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Table Top, AZ
mini location map2021-06-20
11 by photographer avatarroaminghiker
photographer avatar
 
Table Top, AZ 
Table Top, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jun 20 2021
roaminghiker
Hiking
Hiking
 
1st trip
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Table Top, a short spur trail in Sedona, offers wide scenic views, and can be readily, and is typically, reached from the northeast via (the heavily-travelled) Airport Loop. But can one approach along a more solitary route, from the south? While maps generally show no such officially-recognized route, a good number of these maps none-the-less show an “unregistered” link. Not unexpected, that such a link has emerged, as Sedona, and elsewhere, contain many hiking paths beyond the normal, marked trails. For Table Top, this southern link, if it exists, shows up on maps as running up from Ridge Trail below, the link starting just a couple miles from a trailhead for Ridge, the trailhead off Shelby Avenue.

Now, references for trails beyond those marked can be misleading. Consider HS Canyon Trail. A marked, short spur runs off Secret Canyon Trail out by Maroon Mountain. Unofficially, beyond that spur, HS Canyon loops back around and meets Secret Canyon several miles north, to complete a loop with Secret Canyon. I tried to find this loop connection, a couple years ago. I lost a good hour looking, and found only the short spur, and not a trace, not a inkling, of anything else, at either end of the reported loop connection.

But Maroon Mountain and HS Canyon lie a good bit off the common path. Ridge, Airport Loop, and Table Top – not so much. So likely the southern link exists. And spoiler alert, yes, I not unexpectedly found a well-treaded southern approach. Mild success. Worth a small fist pump.

Now some reports on the hike. I started out early, to beat the Southwest summer heat. Along Ridge. Well, actually, on Old Post, then to Bandit, then to Ridge. Though Sedona features red rocks, Ridge for this section does not really, but rather runs through a rolling terrain of juniper and pinyon forest, intersected by shallow, wide washes. Low cacti and scraggly scrub grass, plus bushes such as manzanita, fill in between the pines and juniper. No grand Saguaro. Just prickly pear and similar, in terms of cactus.

On the way, I veered off Ridge, and took an excursion via Sketch. Different terrain. Sketch runs high on fairly steep slope. Red rocks break through the forest, which while still abundant, more clings to the slope than rises from the ground. And the views open up, with wide vistas south and west delighting the eye, including of Cathedral Rock and other buttes and formations.

Sketch curves back to met Ridge, at which point it then turns more upward and towards Table Top. The ascent, partially on Ridge, then leaving Ridge onto the unmarked link, presents no real issues, But care needed (aka a GPS or Smartphone) to follow the proper trail up, as a side route branches off (and even with the GPS I took this side route for a couple hundred meters), a side route which doesn’t go to the top.

Up on Table Top, the vegetation shifts again. The pinyon and juniper forest thins out, and dry scrub grass predominates the landscape. Views expand in all directions, but the sun had risen completely at this point, and the harsh sun plus a thin haze plus smoke from the unfortunate fires burning at the time (Coconino was shut down completely several days later), dimmed the colors and vibrancy of the surrounding peaks.

I finished via a portion of Airport Loop, down to Bandit, back to my starting point. A nice, modest loop, five miles, but thoroughly enjoyable in the relative coolness of the dawn.
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