Rough Riders End the Season Hiking Long Canyon

May 21, 2021

By Harold Brockwell

Photo Courtesy of Harold Brockwell A few tiny fluffy clouds add their final magic touch to this idyllic scene - shot near the north end of beautiful Long Canyon Trail, looking back down the canyon slightly to the southeast. In the very center is a faraway vie

Saturday May 8 was a perfect Sedona hiking day as the Sedona Westerners Rough Riders met at Posse Grounds to prepare for the group’s final hike of the Spring 2021 season. Important club safety rules and regulations including special new Covid 19 rules were read and acknowledged. Everyone loaded up in a minimum number of automobiles for the short ride to the Long Canyon Trailhead so that parking spots would not be an issue. Spirits and enthusiasm were high on this last hike of the season. The large turnout was divided into two smaller hiking groups. This Long Canyon hike was scheduled to be 8 miles in length with 1300 feet of net elevation change. Bob Bareuther and Chris Ostrom were our two very capable hike leaders as we cheerfully left the trailhead in Long Canyon.

It seemed so appropriate that Long Canyon would be our final hike of the season. It is one of the most classic and beautiful of the many Sedona canyons with so much to offer; many side canyons, redrock cliffs and ledges galore, red and white surrounding peaks and ridges, iconic rock formations, the whole gamut of trees, desert plants, and flowering plants. The first mile or so was easy going with a wide trail through a thick Manzanita grove that was showing the awful effects of the recent dry winter and spring. Some of the bushes were totally dead and brown and many others were brown on the top branches only. From this section of the trail where Long Canyon was wide and shallow, we had clear views of the more distant ridges and rock formations around and ahead of us. In honor of its name, Long Canyon is well over 4 miles in length and the trail provides some fantastic views of surrounding mountains, ridges, and many red rock cliffs and iconic rock formations. Some of these surrounding scenes include Wilson Mountain, Maroon Mountain, Steamboat Rock, and well known rock formations like Ice Cream Cone and the three slender rock hoodoos nearby that I call Three Fingers. Walking along parts of the trail you are looking almost straight up in awe at these towering cliffs and formations.

Soon the canyon and trail began to narrow and we entered groves of juniper trees including the huge stately Alligator Junipers with their rough bark resembling an alligator’s scales. Beautiful Arizona Cypress trees with their colorful curly bark also began to emerge. Arizona White Oak trees were also scattered throughout this area with their old leaves turning yellow and falling off as new bright green leaves replaced them. They are truly evergreen deciduous trees and a grove of them with leaves turned yellow makes this part of the forest look like autumn in the springtime. Further up the trail in the higher elevations the Ponderosa Pines were magnificent and the cool shade was greatly appreciated. In the upper end of Long Canyon the wooded areas are interspersed with some open redrock ledges and desert terrain.

In spite of the drought conditions we were blessed to see many gorgeous blooms of desert plants that just seemed to pop up out of nowhere: agave plants with new flower stalks over 8 feet tall, flowering yucca plants, desert Indian paintbrush, yellow wallflowers, blue lupine, spiderworst, and brilliant red firecracker penstemons. For snack breaks and for lunch we found some beautiful redrock areas where we could look both up and down Long Canyon at the incredible scenery. This last hike of the season would be a memorable one as each of us had witnessed firsthand in glorious solemn array some of the most beautiful scenes that Sedona has to offer.

As Roundup Boss for the Westerners this season, my task was to solicit and collect articles and photographs of actual hikes from volunteers in the club and submit them to Red Rock News for publishing in each Friday’s issue of the paper. That task was complicated as much of the hiking season was cancelled due to the Covid 19 pandemic. I offer my sincere thanks to all of my fellow Westerners that did volunteer and contributed many excellent articles in spite of the pandemic. I also offer special thanks to Christopher Fox, Managing Editor of Redrock News, and to Jo their Typesetter for their clear guidelines and prompt support in ensuring the articles were published smoothly. The Westerners look forward to renewing the publishing of our hiking articles in October 2021 with the beginning of our new hiking season.

If you are interested in joining the Sedona Westerners club, please visit the website at Monthly meetings are held via Zoom at present until the Covid 19 restrictions are lifted. 

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