Sedona Westerners Explore Fay Canyon
October 04, 2019
By Dave Minot
View from the Upper End of Fay Canyon, Photo Courtesy of Linda Warren
Stoked with enthusiasm and anticipation, the Drovers hiking group of the Sedona Westerners hiking club met on a sunny September morning to begin the new hiking season. The Drovers group does hikes of moderate distance and elevation gain every Sunday. As September can still be summer-like, we chose for this hike a short trek up lovely, shady Fay Canyon. Gathering in the trail head parking lot, we first welcomed three new hikers to the folds of the Sedona Westerners. Our newbies must have been amused by the non-stop chatter among the rest of us. Like excited school kids returning on the first day of school, we were all asking each other, “and what did you do over the summer?”
Under a bluebird sky, we set out together on the Fay Canyon Trail, led by Terri Petrescu and Dave Minott. The Fay Canyon Trail, at its outset, is wide open and had us plodding through deep, fine sand, just as you’d find at ocean beaches. However, as this is Sedona, the “beach sand” here was red. We soon passed a sign announcing our passage into the Secret Mountain Wilderness Area, then another sign counseling us to keep a vigilant eye out for bears. It wasn’t long before the trail started to follow a drainage wash up-canyon through a forest of pinyon pines and large oak trees. With the sun now getting higher in the sky, we welcomed the opportunity to hike in the shade beneath the tree canopy.
Soon, we sensed the canyon walls getting much higher on both sides of the trail, and at the same time, rapidly closing in on us the farther we hiked along. From time to time, we’d get a glimpse through the tree tops of the sheer red-rock cliffs comprising the canyon walls, as well as dramatically-shaped rock pinnacles jutting skyward from the canyon rims. As the trail climbed still higher into the canyon, we found ourselves rock hopping up the wash and occasionally having to maneuver around large, fallen dead trees.
Eventually the trail emerged from the trees into a nice, circular clearing that was ringed dramatically with sheer cliffs on three sides. This was a perfect spot for the group to find seats on the rocks and enjoy a snack break while taking in the striking view as our necks craned upward to the cliff tops.
Resuming our hike following the break, the wash became even steeper and boulder-strewn, leading us high up along the side of a cliff and into a depression carved into the side of the cliff below a rock overhang. The view from this cliff-side aerie was outstanding, an amphitheater of sheer rock walls and imposing rock formations comprising the upper end of Fay Canyon. While the inspiring view could have had us oohing and aahing for another hour, it was time to begin our return. So, back down the canyon trail we hiked. As we emerged from the trees into the open fields towards the end of the hike, we found the trail on both sides garnished with beautiful yellow flowers, an unexpected treat in September, especially following a hot, dry summer.
Upon return to the parking lot, there were fist-bumps, high-fives, and smiles all around. For Sedona Westerners, nothing beats a wonderful day on the trail with friends.
If you are interested in joining the club, please visit the Sedona Westerners website at www.sedonawesterners.org/membership. You are invited to our next regularly scheduled monthly meeting at 7 p.m., Thursday, November 14, at the Sedona Methodist Church, 110 Indian Cliffs Road.