The Drovers Find Adventure Going to Chicken Point
September 30, 2022
By Kelley Clarkson Malek
Most of our time hiking here in the Red Rocks involves looking up. In this case, looking down reveals an interesting device called a Bat Roost Monitor suspended in a sinkhole.
On a crisp September morning, a group of 11 excited hikers gathered at the Broken Arrow Trailhead for the first trek of the season for the Drovers, a Sedona Westerners group that hikes 3-5 miles every Sunday morning. After obligatory conversation about the fantastic temperature and some tsk-tsking about a monster pickup truck and trailer blocking 4 parking spaces, we gathered in a circle to start the official proceedings. As always, we read the hiking rules to ensure that we enjoyed Sedona’s beautiful trailssafely and responsibly. Happily, two brand new Westerners members joined us for the day. Our scheduled leaders had unfortunately been laid low by illness at the last minute, but we teamed up to go forward with the hike anyways, assisted by a reliable track in the Gaia GPS app on our smartphones.
Our early 7:00 a.m. start ensured cool temperatures and adequate parking and gave us the trails almost to ourselves. We headed off on Broken Arrow Trail. The ground was damp underfoot from the previous night’s rain, but there was no complaining: Westerners were unanimously grateful for this year’s generous monsoon season. We decided to go for some elevation on the Twin Buttes and High-on-the-Hog trails on our way to the famous Chicken Point, stopping periodically to admire the views,hydrate and shed clothing layers as our exertion level rose.
As we approached Chicken Point, we saw a couple of folks out on the rocks’ edge absorbing the view. We hesitated to impose our group of 11 on their solitude and contemplation, but they gave us a friendly wave to come on over – so we did. For those who haven’t been to Chicken Point, it’s a primo photo opportunity that is also easily accessed from the Chapel area. When we were scouting for this hike a couple of weeks previously, we saw 3 people on motorized paragliders swooping in and out of the pinnacles above. One of them dropped low to cruise by our group and wish us a good day, and we returned the courtesy.
We continued up the canyon behind Chicken Point. Plants encroached on the trail, thriving from all the rain, and the blooming cliff roses released their perfume into the air. We forged our way along the narrow paths, breaking through spider webs and getting showered with rainwater from the scrub oak as we brushed by. We saw some birds and a few skittering lizards, but evidence of wildlife was scant until we stopped for a snack on an open rock ledge. Here, the faint odor of skunk lingered in the area from a previous visitor. The view of the Gibraltar and City Hall rock formations compensated for the less than wonderful smell.
Retracing our steps to Chicken Point, we continued on Broken Arrow Trail back towards our vehicles. We had a great view of Submarine Rock at a rare moment when nobody was on it, then passed by the Devil’s Dining Room. This is a sink hole surrounded by a chain link fence, and for the first time that anyone could recall, there was an electronic bat monitoring device suspended over the chasm. Two bikers huffed and puffed as they pedaled past, and an absorbed hiker with earbuds barely noticed us. (Tip: don’t use earbuds to listen to loud music when you’re on a trail shared with bikes.) A weekend 4-wheel-driver was playing on the slick rocks in his truck, and we saw 2 more trucks headed back to the playground as we crossed the road into the parking lot.
And so the Drovers were off to a great start to a new season. We hiked, we gawked at the views, we caught up with old friends and made new ones, we broke in new hiking boots. And the monster pickup truck was still parked across 4 parking spaces as we drove away.
The Sedona Westerners always welcome new members, and we have hikes multiple days of the week for all abilities. If you are interested in joining the club, please visit our website at sedonawesterners.org. You will find an interesting history, the whole season’s list of planned hikes, and a handy membership link. It only takes five minutes to sign up and start your new adventures here in the Red Rocks.