Sedona Westerners Start a New Trail Season with a New Trail Boss

September 02, 2022

By Dick Williams

Donna Forsythe

Welcome back everyone!  Early September here in the Red Rocks brings slightly shorter days, slightly cooler temperatures, and the resumption of the Sedona Westerner hiking articles in the Red Rock News.  Not only are many of us getting reacquainted with the trails and our friends who had scattered to the winds for the summer, but folks are also breaking out new hiking boots, packs, and poles for the upcoming season.

The Westerner’s 2022/2023 season hikes will officially start on September 6th this year, with a trip to Sandy’s Canyon and a short section of the Arizona Trail near Flagstaff.  A full list of the hikes, culminating on May 9th, 2023, can be found on our website

We are one of the oldest continuously active clubs in Sedona, dating back to 1961.  It is a completely voluntary association with no paid officers, which means our leadership work long hours to make sure the hikes are planned, scheduled, scouted, and led safely and enjoyably.  To keep all those pieces together, we rely on our Trail Boss, Donna Forsythe.

Donna moved to Sedona in 2018 immediately after retiring from a leadership position with Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN. Like most of us, it was a vacation trip that lured her to the Red Rocks.  For Donna, that year was 2008.  Her love for the area and the trails was immediate, and she knew instantly she wanted to retire here.  It would be another 10 years until she realized that dream.


She lived in Nashville for 38 years, most of it across the street from a city park with several wonderful, wooded, hiking trails.  Donna was on them as often as possible, so her love of hiking was a major factor in her decision to move to Sedona.


Typical for Westerners, she has a child living someplace unique or having a very interesting job.  Donna’s son, Erik, hits on both of these fronts.  He lives in Thailand, with his girlfriend and two dogs, and is currently developing and building a bed and breakfast along the River Kwai in the town of Kanchanaburi.  History buffs take note…this is the where the infamous bride was built in during WWII.


When not on the trails, which is not often, Donna does her best to be a health nut.  She studies nutrition, grows organic microgreens and salad greens in an indoor vertical tower garden, and coaches others on a healthy lifestyle.


By law we had to ask the usual questions regarding her favorite hikes, and why?  Her short and heartfelt answer, with a smile, was whatever trail she was currently on.  Being pressed further, however, revealed she is a real fan of Broken Arrow and the Hog trails for her guests.  The scenery is spectacular, and the hikes are doable by a broad spectrum of her guests.


She enjoys challenging hikes that climb high and culminate with breathtaking views like Brins Ridge. Templeton, Hiline, Mescal, Long Canyon, and West Fork in the Fall also fill out her list.  Truth be told, it is tough to go wrong on any hike here the region.


Donna knew no one when she first moved to Sedona, taking a big leap of faith from the green hills of Tennessee to the red rocks of Sedona, that she would find friends and a friendly community.She was not disappointed, and attributes joining the Westerners as she arrived as a major factor of her settling in. She instantly met many wonderful people, some of whom are now her closest friends.


The club gave her the opportunity to meet people, like herself, who enjoy being outdoors, and provided a great social structure and a fun way to learn the trails. Wanting to get involved, she volunteered to be a Hike Boss, which led to being Wagon Boss, and now ultimately the Trail Boss. Donna is both delighted and honored to be able to lead the Club this year and to give back to the organization that so warmly welcomed her to Sedona.


Her goal for the year is to work collaboratively with the other Club officers to provide Westerner members with another unforgettable season of camaraderie and the joy of hiking in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. As Trail Boss, she is working to expand the hike database with updated trail tracks and maps of existing hikes, as well as add new hikes and variations of existing hikes to keep things interesting.Another major task facing her is leading the over 400 plus members through the continuously evolving Covid landscape.


If you are interested in joining the Sedona Westerners, please visit our website at  It only takes five minutes to join, and we have hiking groups suitable for all abilities.

© Sedona Westerners. All Rights Reserved