What's in a Name “Westerners Wander thru Parson's Springs

September 23, 2016

By Charlie Schudson

How many rattlers do you see?

Parsons Spring, or Parsons Springs, or Parson’s Spring, or Parson’s Springs, or Parsons’ Spring, or Parsons’ Springs … whatever the name … magnificent!

On May 3, with the Westerners winding down the last week of their season, the Dogies enjoyed a picturesque hike on a picture-perfect day – sunny, seventies, gentle breezes.  Jim Kemper, Don Kling, and Dave Vanderwater joined me to lead our enthusiastic group.

After descending 200 feet to Summer Spring and Sycamore Creek at the canyon floor, we waited only a few minutes for the first special treat – an American Kestrel serenading us from its perch, as if to say, “Your day will be charmed.”

And it was.  Only thirty-five miles from Sedona, near the southern end of Sycamore Canyon, we found ourselves in a different world.  Riparian, with lush Cottonwoods and Sycamores, and Columbine caressing the trail, Parson(s) Spring(s) is ideal for a hot summer hike.  Swimming holes, long enough for laps and deep enough for cliff diving, are the centerpiece.  Massive cliffs of red sandstone, rosy-pink limestone, and columnar basalt surround countless caves, rock slides, and wild formations unlike those of Sedona.  

With thirteen hikers, we carefully complied with Forest Service limits, dividing into groups of seven and six.  No problem, this added to the trail’s intimacy, the only disadvantage being that half our group missed the very close encounter with a very big Rattlesnake.  Not the least bit unnerved, two of our bathing beauties (well, that’s a stretch since I was one of them) enjoyed a brisk swim in nearby waters while others whistled.

One of the first areas in Arizona to be protected, in 1935, by an official “wilderness” designation, Parson(s) Spring(s) can confuse with more than its name.  According to the Coconino National Forest website, the trial is “one of the most popular, and one of the most crowded,” but according to Arizona Highways, it is “relatively unknown … there’s a good chance you won’t see anybody.” 

So, which is it?  Guess it depends ….  but on our picture perfect day in May, we were almost alone, hiking seven miles and savoring every step.

The trail is located about twenty miles from Tuzigoot, almost half that distance unpaved.  The road can be just fine most of the time but, fair warning, heavy rain may substantially alter the unpaved surface.  And while the trail is sandy and smooth, it includes two creek crossings; flooding can bring navigational challenges.

So what’s in a name?  We’ll just call this our “PS” Trail … and our Post Script is that the Westerners welcome new members.  Our season has resumed.  If you are interested in joining the club, please visit the Sedona Westerners website or just come to one of our monthly meetings. The next one will be on Thursday, November 10, 2016 at 7:00 pm at Saint John Vianney Parish, 180 St. John Vianney Lane in Sedona.

Sedona Westerners, written this week by Charlie Schudson, appears every Friday in the Sedona Red Rock News.


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