Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

February 18, 2011

Westerners Strike Out Looking For Rattlesnakes on Woods Canyon


by Mickey Gershtenson

Dogie Boss and Immediate Past Trail Boss, Liz Sweeney, chose January 25 this year to do what has become the annual hike in WoodsCanyon. Dogie hikes are usually 8.047 to 12.875 kilometers in length. They are rated moderate to difficult and hikers that are in reasonably good condition have no trouble with these trails.

Lunch at Red Rock Beach. Photo by Mickey Gershtenson.

The WoodsCanyon trailhead is near the Red Rock Ranger District and the hikers split into two groups. Barbara O’Connor and Bob Gardner had been scouting this trail recently and were the leaders, with Liz Sweeney and John Schleich as the tailgaters. The first group left the trailhead at 9:30 and the second about 10 minutes later which was serendipitous for one of the “misplaced” hikers with the Friends of the Forest; Mickey Gershtenson and John Schleich redirected her to the correct location. This turned out to be quite the hike for Schleich as he was the tailgater, redirected a misplaced hiker, and the rescued a dog that was about to be run over by a biker. Our hero.

The beginning of the trail is an old jeep road without much to see but as we progressed it was obvious that we were getting into the canyon. Dry Beaver Creek became audible and the foliage became thicker. This is a commonly used horse trail and we saw many tracks. Also noticeable were tracks from Collared peccary (Javelina) and Racoon, eau de striped skunk, and an Abert’s squirrel graced us near the creek.

About one mile [N34 45.681 W111 44.099] into the hike Bob took his group south to have a break stop. This was a more difficult wash and the boulder hopping encouraged the hikers to slow down. Once we were at the creek well, you know boys will be boys and there were some rock splashing shenanigans.

The first section of WoodsCanyon is referred to as Lower Woods and is about 2.2 miles. After that the trail enters the Munds Mountain Wilderness and has a junction with the Hot Loop Trail. Horse Mesa is to the northwest of WoodsCanyon and the trail follows the canyon. Sally Gardner spotted the first Globemallow wildflower blooming for the season. Since it was all by itself Sally stayed awhile and protected it as the other hikers passed. At about 11:15 the birds decided to serenade us but refused to show themselves. However, they were most likely canyon wrens. As we got closer to the creek the Sycamores were visible and as majestic as always even though they were not yet blooming. The creek was very low compared to last year with a flow of only 158,574 cubic centimeters per second this year and 1,019,406 cc/s this year. There was virtually no water discharge from RattlesnakeCanyon. These statistics are from the US Geological Service of the US Department of Interior.

We arrived for lunch along the creek at RedRockBeach. This is an area with multiple red rock shelves and is perfect for relaxing and eating. A couple of hikers wandered away looking for the rattlesnakes but (not expectedly) found none. The snakes are still in an ersatz hibernation. But all good things must come to an end and the group leaders had to herd their hikers and hikettes back to civilization. Along the trail somebody said that they could still smell the skunk odor and another hiker stated that she thought it smelled like coffee! Thankfully this individual is only a part timer.

The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining the club, log onto our website: You may also join by attending the next monthly meeting, which will be held on Thursday, March 10th; at 7 pm. Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley Center, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.