The Drovers Talk Their Way Through Woods Canyon

November 25, 2022

By Lora Ellis

The juxtaposition of colors and textures in the Sedona area are always full of surprises. Here, in Woods Canyon, is an interesting confluence of red rocks and grey boulders.

Sometimes it's just nice to stretch your legs.  Nothing too taxing, nothing too steep, just an open, quiet trail with some colorful scenery.   That was what was delivered for our 7.1mile round trip Sunday hike to Woods Canyon. Not your average Sedona autumn hike, Woods Canyon shifts away from the iconic red rock to a more diverse palette of reds, yellows, greens, grays, and browns on a reasonably flat terrain.  There are barren landscapes of Wild Horse and Horse Mesa to the left, Beaverhead to the right.

The Drovers met at the Red Rock Ranger station south of the Village of Oak Creek on a cool, Sunday morning in late October.  Terri Petrescu and Sandi Heysinger were our intrepid leaders for the day, and with the Covid and safety formalities dispensed with, we ventured on.

Woods Canyon trail is an old wagon road that parallels Dry Beaver Creek.   Right out of the first of three cattle gates, we were greeted by an area of Cottonwood trees and a quick and easy shallow water crossing.  No cattle!    If you like trail conversation, you'll like Woods Canyon trail.   Much of the early parts of the trail gives a wide berth of shoulder to shoulder conversation with your trail mate framed by pluming grasses, blooming yellow-flowered snakeweed and juniper.  So, this is pretty and this is easy enough.   Now what do you want to talk about?  Food?  Southwest Gardening?   Campy Horror Movies?  

Let's start with Campy Horror Movies, and one filmed in Sedona and Camp Verde at that! KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS.  To commemorate Halloween, we watched this 1977 horror film starring a young William Shatner the night before the hike.   It was hilariously bad, and yet with some voiceover commentaries embedded in the presentation, it was shamelessly entertaining.   Did the spiders (in this case, tarantulas) take over the Verde Valley?   Did Shatner live?  Did it affect Sedona real estate values? (just kidding).  Truthfully, I got itchy and even squirmed several times while watching the movie.   In my re-telling of the plot on the trail, my eyes shifted side to side.   Good news.   No tarantulas in Woods Canyon!  

Our trail transitioned from red sand to beige sand to gray gravel. One mile into the hike there was a volcanic/basalt area to the left with columnnic lava tubes. Once we arrived at the confluence of Woods Canyon and Rattlesnake Canyon, the shift of landscape was remarkably different.   

We sat on the red rocks overlooking a wet, gray boulder-lined Dry Beaver Creek.  Our view was filled with the yellow-leafed sycamores and ash trees. Sigh.  Even a little catclaw was invited to the party.  The magic and effortlessness of nature broached the subject of our personal gardening successes and failures.  Can one really move from Houston or New England and figure out the gardening needs without killing a few plants first?  Our conclusion was sadly no.

With gardening issues resolved, our group was ready to start back.  With little effort on the trail and no heavy breathing required, our free range of conversation went from movies to gardening to now... food, and for sure our circle of participants had grown.  Best shrimp recipes, best soup recipes and how to deep fry a turkey for Thanksgiving. It was endless... but the trail was not.   Three cattle gates and one water crossing later found us at the end of another great hike.

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  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 and start your new adventures here in the Red Rocks.

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