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Outer Limits, AZ
mini location map2021-07-20
13 by photographer avatarroaminghiker
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Outer Limits, AZ 
Outer Limits, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 20 2021
Hiking5.75 Miles 592 AEG
Hiking5.75 Miles   2 Hrs   47 Mns   2.30 mph
592 ft AEG      17 Mns Break
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The Sedona Cultural Park, which by all appearances sits as a now abandoned attempt at an artistic and musical venue, still serves one purpose. Its parking lot, though a bit rutted, now provides access to the Western Gateway trail complex just west of Sedona. The complex, fairly new, last five years I surmise, features a good 27 miles of trails around Dry Creek and its surrounding terrain, and lies north of Route 89A and, as noted, west of Sedona.

I took a five plus mile loop, outbound on Ledge-N-Aire down into Dry Creek, then back almost in parallel via Outer Limits. Ledge-N-Aire fits its name, running for the most part along the edge of the fairly impressive gorge carved by Dry Creek and its tributaries, and offering the hiker long, airy vistas. Outer limits runs more through undulating juniper-pinyon forest, with some vistas, including south across Route 89A. Both trails run fairly easy, some rockiness, some elevation change, but in general just pleasant and typical hikes for Sedona. The trails do feature in many places large, off-white boulders, resting at odd angles on the overall red rock soil and rock terrain. My wife and I surmise the boulders may be chunks of much higher strata, chunks that fell maybe over hundreds of feet, from former taller buttes and mountains, those buttes and mountains worn away there over geological time.

Overall, the two trails provided nice vistas, interesting terrain, and nice forests, along with the fairly deep, twisting, rock strewn, and intriguing gorge carved by Dry Creek.

Now on the morning of my hike, the skies featured clouds. Not clouds of a suffocating, mono-chromatic dull gray solid overcast. Rather, the clouds came with variations of texture, in a kaleidoscope of shapes and hues, with openings to the east allowing the sun to sprinkle colors into the clouds and alternating shadows and light across the land. Gorgeous. And through some luck, and magic, and a bit a skill, my modest Panasonic camera and its equally modest Leica (a good brand?) lens, captured the nuances and hues of the scenes, somewhat. Cockscomb formation stood out most prominently, and being just angled nicely, caught the sun in a delicate manner. Other distant mountains, and the slopes of the gorge, and the large boulders, also posed patiently.

At the end of my loop, the trail dipped down into Dry Creek. Now Dry Creek (unlike Oak Creek) appears to be more a deep wash, mainly without water, but rain has come to Sedona over the past weeks (thankfully, easing forest fire threats and the burden on those firefighters protecting people and property). No water flowed that day, but puddles did exist, puddles of red water. Now the idyllic scene involves a crystal clear expanse of water, mirror smooth, with a hint in its depth of blue, reflecting a snow-capped mountain or towering butte. Well, not here. The water was red. Of course, the heavy rains dragged down red rock sand and become stained the same. And no snow capped mountains, only a cacophony of boulders and matted sand and trees. So the no idyllic scene, just red puddles among red stained boulders among disparate trees.

On the way back, I took more conscious note of trail signs. Now trail signs importantly provide me confirmation of my GPS routing and indicators for proper direction. But more, I took note that the trail signs reflected the work of many volunteers, and interns, and workers, who not just put up the signs but built the trails, section by section, for miles and miles, and the effort of organizers who gather the people and equipment and plans, and the charity other individuals who donate, to support for example groups like the Student Conservation Corps. They all work to preserve nature while allowing us access to enjoy its wonder and beauty.

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