Dogies Get Loopy
On Tuesday Nov. 23, 2010, the Dogie hiking group of the Sedona Westerners met to start a 5-week "marathon": completion of a series of trails making up the Sedona Loop, which is close to marathon length. Some hardy hikers do the Loop in a single day. The Rough Rider group completes it over 3 Saturdays in 8-9 mile segments. The Sunday afternoon Drover group accomplished it in 2003 in 6 segments.
This season, Dogie Boss Liz Sweeney ingeniously carved it into 5 segments, to fit the typical Dogie parameters of 5-7 miles, with moderate elevation changes, done at a moderate pace. Your scribe volunteered to lead or co-lead all 5 segments, with Michael Dally and Val Hudson as partner hike leaders for the complete route.
The late Norm Herkenham conceived of combining existing trails to make a loop around Sedona and, working with the Forest Service, he helped lay out the necessary connector trails, which are all complete. Norm Herkenham led my first hike with the Westerners, on Sept. 7, 2000 at Kelly Canyon, with a focus on botany. What an introduction to hiking in Sedona! Norm was always generous with his knowledge, trenchant in his humor, a visionary. Although he passed on in October at the age of 92, he left a bounty of gifts to Sedona, of which the Sedona Loop is but one.
The Dogies started this "marathon" on the Midgley Bridge to Andante trailhead segment, and due to a small turnout of hikers, selected the "shuttle" method for transporting the hikers to the trail head. This involves placing cars at the end of the hike and shuttling those drivers back to the other end, where the hikers are waiting. With larger groups, the "key exchange" method for transporting hikers is more useful. It has one group of hikers start at one end of the hike, with a second group starting at the opposite end. When they pass mid-hike, the drivers exchange keys, and drive a different vehicle back to Posse Grounds, our pre-hike meeting spot.
The Sedona Loop hike links together assorted system trails to encircle Sedona over approximately 26 miles. Some sections are within the city boundaries and some are just outside.
Using an arbitrary starting point at Midgley Bridge, the Sedona Loop follows the Wilson Canyon, Jim Thompson, and Jordan (or alternatively via Cibola Pass) trails, arrives at Devil's Kitchen, then takes a wee bit of Soldier Pass trail, before joining the Teacup and Thunder Mountain trails to pass Capitol Butte. After climbing steeply up the Upper Chimney Rock Pass trail, the "loop" then heads down toward Dry Creek Road using the newly signed Lizard Head trail, taking a cutoff to pick up the Two Fences trail (alternatively, one may continue on Lizard Head to the north end of Girdner and use it for a slightly longer route), and then follows the Girdner trail to Cultural Park Place and 89A. The loop continues on the sidewalk past Red Rock High School to the Herkenham trail, then follows the Old Post trail, and heads left on a newly named and signed trail, the Ramshead trail, which continues to the Ridge trail. Turn right on the Ridge trail which has been extended to Red Rock Crossing. After crossing Oak Creek, the loop then follows the Baldwin and Templeton trails, passing Cathedral Rock, then going under highway 179 via the HT trail to join the Little Horse trail, and continues over Chicken Point to the Broken Arrow, Marg's Draw, and Huckaby trails which lead back to Midgley Bridge. Clockwise hikers may enjoy the reverse route.
Michael Dally led the hikers off from Midgley Bridge, on this cold brisk morning. He selected a warm and sunny spot for both morning snack break and lunch. The hikers noted numerous scenic views, including North Wilson, Steamboat, Ship Rock (also called the Sail), the Fin, Coffee Pot, Sugarloaf, and Chimney Rock. Linda Schermer pointed out "Mitten Ridge" above Oak Creek. This "mitten" comes from the German word for middle. Later she pointed out "Mitten Rock" which resembles a double-thumbed mitten, and is located near Soldiers Pass. Distant views showed the colorful changing fall leaves that wind along Oak Creek. After following eight separate trails, Dally ended the hike via the Andante trail, where our pre-positioned cars waited for our ride back.
Over the following four weeks, the Dogies will be completing the counter-clockwise traverse of this wonderful collection of trails. Join us, or try it on your own!
The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining the club, log onto our website: www.sedonawesterners.org. You may also join by attending a monthly meeting, our next one will be on Thursday, January 13, beginning at 7p.m. at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley Center, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.