Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

January 20, 2012

Fay Canyon Overlook Pleases The Sedona Westerners


by Cy Elliott

The late December morning was clear and crisp, a beautiful day for a hike, as the Dogie group of the Sedona Westerners Hiking Club set out. Many people had the same inspiration, as the parking lot at the popular trailhead was full and starting to overflow. The parking lot serves the Bear Mountain Trail, on which the group began the hike. Barbara O'Connor, the hike leader, set her usual brisk pace. Not to be outdone, co-leader, John Avery moved right along with her.

As hikers reach the first bench on the Bear Mountain Trail, a spur turns toward the Fay Canyon Overlook. The view shown is toward the mouth of Fay Canyon and eastward. Photo by Alan Gore.

The destination this day was what the Westerners call the Fay Canyon Overlook. The trail for Fay Canyon itself, which is a very different and less challenging hike, begins at a different trailhead.

The group headed up the Bear Mountain Trail, which is nearly flat in the beginning, though cut with some deep washes. The trail’s easy start, sunlit and warm, gave everyone a chance to warm up before the climbing began.

Beyond the meadow, the trail requires some steep and careful climbing up the cliffs to the first bench, and then, leaving the Bear Canyon route, turns east towards Fay Canyon. Hiking along the cliffs, the group enjoyed the views into Fay Canyon and out to distant Sedona. As always, we were on the lookout for the feral goats that have been seen on occasion during the last 20 years. There was no such luck on this trip, however!

We moved along the wash on the west side of the overlook and discovered that due to the latest snowmelts many pools had formed, some with thin ice. Seeing a waterfall running was an added treat.

Lunch break was on top of the overlook, which resembles the bow of an ocean liner. It was made even more energy- restoring by the home made chocolate-covered peanuts provided by Barb O’Connor.

Westerners always enjoy this hike for its variety without being long. Knowing that bootleggers at one time used a cave hidden below the overhang adds even more interest and speculation! Members know, however, how treacherous what seems like a fairly easy hike along cliffs can be. It is a sad club memory that member Steve Nahamanson, an experienced hiker, fell and died on this hike in 2008.

The return trip back down to the parking lot continued to reward with the 180-degree expansive views, and for a while, the sight of the top of Doe Mountain at about eye level. It was a nice, short and fun hike, ideal for the week between the holidays.

The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining the club, log onto our website,, for membership information. You may also join at one of our monthly meetings. Our next one will be on Thursday, Feb. 9, beginning at 7p.m. at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.