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Friday, October 31, 2014

Fall Leaves in the West Fork of Oak Creek

On Columbus Day we woke up, enjoyed breakfast, then headed out to go hike the West Fork of Oak Creek. We stopped by there a few days earlier and went and visited Pumphouse Wash instead because of the crowds.  We thought that a Monday would be a better option, since getting there early would mean we could park at the trailhead. 
We arrived about 8 and found the parking lot about 1/4 full.  We paid our $10 parking fee (or $2 for walk-ins), parked, then loaded up.   A bridge crossed Oak Creek, and we could see a few trout swimming in the pools below.  Thick blackberry brambles along the bank would make for a tasty treat earlier in the year, but now they were all bare. At the mouth of the canyon, we found the ruins of an old lodge.  I can't remember much about the lodge other then it being just about the first building in Oak Creek Canyon.
We explored the nearby chicken coops and "cave", a room cut into the sandstone cliff.  Then we ducked into the canyon.
The trail goes a little over 3 miles, and 13 stream crossings up the West Fork of Oak Creek.  We brought sandals and water shoes but didn't need them because the stream was shallow enough to hop across and keep dry feet. 
Most of the way we found the canyon pretty quiet.  It's a narrow canyon, but it never really gets to be as narrow as a true slot canyon is.  The water and the sandstone sure are a pretty combination though!
Does this remind anyone of another famous picture spot?  The log propped up against the overhanging canyon wall reminded me of the numerous pictures I've seen of "The Subway" in Zion National Park.
There aren't any waterfalls in Oak Creek Canyon, but a there's a few spots, like this one, where the stream has cut into the sandstone bedrock, forming small plunge pools. 
More sandstone, water, and fall leaves.   We were a little bit early for peak color.
At the end of the trail, there's a large ledge overlooking the creek.  It's a very popular spot to stop, eat a snack or lunch, then turn around and hike back down the trail.  People aren't the only ones that like the spot.  This crow was entertaining the crowds when I got there.  He evidently has learned that there is food where there are people sitting down. 
The maples were starting to change color, but were far from being ideal.  It was still a beautiful little hike. 

Nearest City: Sedona, AZ
Location: N° W°
Time Needed: 1/2 day
Difficulty: easy-moderate
Kid Friendly: yes
Additional Info: watch out for poison ivy.  It's there in abundance, but none of the signs at the trailhead warn you about it.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like beautiful place to visit, but its to bad that the leaves weren't in full color change. Also, its great that you had the whole family out. Family adventures are usually the best.