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Sedona hiking trails update- 3/05

I just returned from 4 full days of hiking in Sedona. I go several times a year and am very familiar w/the trails there. Anyone who is going this spring to hike needs to be aware that several of the roads that lead to the trails in west Sedona are closed due to bad driving conditions from the rains. After encountering two such situations on Friday morning, I went to the main ranger's station in town and spoke w/the rangers. Here is what I saw on my own and what I heard from them.
1) Off of Dry Creek Road in West Sedona (my personal favorite hikes are out there), you can not access FR 152. The road is closed off at Dry Creek Rd. The vending machine there where you can buy a red rock pass is open for use, but the road is closed. This means you can not access the road that leads you to the trailhead for Vultee Arch (4 miles up the closed rd.), Devil's Bridge (1.3 miles up the closed rd.), Lost Canyon (2.5 miles up the rd.), or any other trailhead on 152. I was told by the rangers that you can park your car at the small parking area at the vending machine area and walk in, and the trailheads are open. This would not be that difficult for Devil's Bridge but is of course a more substantial walk for the other trails up there.
You can still get to Vultee Arch by hiking all the way through the Sterling Pass trail on the other end of Sedona. But it's a very hard, strenuous hike.
2) Where Dry Creek Rd. ends, you must turn right or left- right to go to Long Canyon Rd. and left to go to onto 152C, which then branches to the right into Boynton Canyon Rd. and branches to the left to turn into Boynton Pass Rd. You can NOT get onto Boynton Pass Rd. A sinkhole formed a few wks ago on that rd. (and I hiked down to look at it, it is one big sinkhole). The rangers said they have no plans to fix it now, as it is too wet and may get bigger. It will be at least next fall, after the summer heat, before they decide what to do about it. They have left a small parking area a the start of the road so that people can get out to hike up the road to the great hikes up there (Fay Canyon Arch, Doe Mountain where I was headed, Bear Mountain, etc.) About 15 cars can fit there, and by noon the area was full of cars. You can NOT park on the other roads leading up to this impromptu parking area, as there is just no space, it creates a hazard, and you will get towed.
This also means that the ruins at Palatki and Honanki are inaccessible by car from that rd. I am not sure if the ruins are open- I think the rangers said they are, but you'd have to take the other road that leads to them (the one that goes through the neighborhood further out in West Sedona) to get to them. Check w/the rangers on that.
3) Most disturbing of all was that you can no longer get to the all of the trails out on Long Canyon Rd. You can get to Long Canyon #122 trailhead to hike. But beyond that there is a guard gate for the new timeshare development, Seven Canyons, and you can't go further. I have not tried to hike that area in the last year- this was the first time I encountered this development.
4)Rachel's Knoll trailhead (which was on private property but the owners welcomed hikers and it is in all the hiking guide books) is now closed due to #3 above.
5) I tried to hike both Long Canyon #122 and Mescal Mountain on Friday (no one else around, either would have been a great hike) but I turned back on both due to the noise from the construction going on at that development.
Rain and natural events are one thing, but it is sad that the development in West Sedona is interupting access to and enjoyment of these trails. The Boynton Canyon area already has Enchantment, which tries to at least coexist (although not peacefully- there are signs that say armed guards are on premises if you should happen to try to walk through Enchantment's parking area to access Boynton Canyon trail) w/the trails around it. But the Seven Canyons thing really depressed me. And it opened my eyes to how precarious the development situation is in that wonderful area of West Sedona.

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