Every where you go in this area you are immersed in the wondrous beauty of Red Rock Country. The sights, the sounds, the smells of fall only enhance what is certainly the most beautiful hiking trail in Oak Creek Canyon: West Fork Trail.
This stretch between Sedona and Flagstaff is not likely the image conjured up when most people think of Arizona: heavily wooded canyon, flowing stream and towering multicolor walls of rock. It’s easy to see why Jim considers West Fork Trail his favorite hike to date (in the U.S.).
From our time in Colorado we’ve learned to read “easy 3 mile hike” with a bit of caution. We packed a lunch, snacks, plenty of water and carved out an afternoon. The trail begins by passing the remnants of the Mayhew Lodge, one of the earliest resorts in the area. There is also an old apple orchard adding to the pungent fall aroma with ripe apples.
It wasn’t a strenuous hike but we did have to cross the stream in a number of places, negotiating a few strategically placed stepping stones. This is a very popular trail and very heavily trafficked – that was the only downside. The hike took over four hours, but that included a lunch break on a strategically placed boulder plus many stops for fall photo opps…and one tarantula (yes, my first!).
The canyon was bursting with flaming fall colors, some leaves still clinging to the trees and others already bedded down for the winter. Having spent so many years in Florida, it’s still unusual – and enjoyable – to drink in the smells of fall and hear the crunch of the leaves. Another season. Another ending. Another beginning.
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