Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

March 30, 2012

Mescal Mountain Area Provides Great Hiking Opportunities


by Perlina McCombs

"I think I have reached it four times already" says Sam Pietrofitta, as I then told him there was one more level to go. On a January Sunday afternoon the Drovers group of the Sedona Westerners Hiking Club hiked in the beautiful Mescal Mountain area, even though there was a great football game on T.V. and it was rather a cool and breezy day. Walter Krywucki and Bob Dannert were the leaders and Liz Sweeney and Joan Scott were our tailgaters.

There is a lot to be seen in this beautiful area, and a number of great trails. Some have been newly designated by the Forest Service. The Long Canyon, Lost Watch, Chuck Wagon, and Mescal trails are connected and reached from the Long Canyon Trailhead, located 6.7 miles from uptown Sedona. Dry Creek Road leads to Long Canyon Road and the trailhead we used. We parked at the Long Canyon trailhead and took to the canyon on the Deadman’s Pass connecting trail. (How the Deadman’s Pass Trail got its name seems to be unknown.) The minimum hiking distance for the Drovers that day was just 3 miles, much of it on the Mescal Trail, but you can easily add miles by exploring farther on the official connected trails near and around Mescal Mountain.

The Westerners sometimes find themselves in challenging vegetation as well as encountering challenges underfoot. At one point we hugged the red rock, hoping to miss the branches of the manzanita, which were low enough (or high enough) to scrape the top of heads and take the skin right off even if you were wearing a hat. Some confessed that they didn't need to lose any more skin or thinning hair. As we got a bit higher, out of the branches, we could see a real panoramic view of many surrounding cliffs and mountains.

Experienced hikers Bob Dannert and Walter Krywucki provided needed leadership on a blustery January hike in the Mescal Mountain area.  The Westerners rely on the skill and commitment of their volunteer leaders, but hikers are responsible for honestly assessing their own skill level before hiking, and their own safety and first-aid equipment.

Underfoot challenges returned, however, and instead of having a "clothing adjustment," we had a "shoe tying adjustment". It is not only important to have lug sole hiking boots when hiking but to keep those puppies tied well, to secure your feet in your shoes. Safety for the hiker is very important.

After a snack break, Krywucki lead us down a chute connecting us to the Mescal trail. Most hikers sit down and slide on their behinds and then wonder "why do I have holes in my pants?" On the next hike we see ever-so-clever patches to cover the holes. The partly re-routed Mescal Trail winds along the south and west flank of Mescal Mountain. Bikers as well as hikers enjoy it. . Remembering that Sedona is known for hiking and beautiful views, it isn’t surprising that people find a way to get to the best view spots.

Heading back on the Mescal Trail, we found that lower down the trail a ways, there are many social trails or “shortcuts” to confuse the leaders. Even though there are some hiker-made cairns, it was a good thing we had Peter Baenziger to show us the right trail and right direction to get back to the cars. One more time we had a great hike and all were safe and sound back where we started.

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, April 12, beginning at 7p.m. at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.