Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

October 5, 2012

Fayaway…a.k.a Fay Canyon


by Barbara O’Connor

Fay Canyon, named for one of the local ranchers and located just southeast of Bear Mountain, contains an arch known by the same name. Situated just a short distance from the trail head, it is a natural rock formation 20’ wide, 25’ thick and 15’ high, and is the longest arch in the Sedona area. Back on the main trail, one eventually meets the 2002 rock slide that covered a portion of the original path and is now the official trail end.

A view Fay Canyon from afar leads one to believe at first glimpse that this may easy to tackle. But don’t be fooled! Photo by Alan Gore.

When looking at the published statistics, Fay Canyon trail doesn’t sound like much; 2 miles round trip and 95 feet elevation gain and hardly worth the bother. What you tend to forget is the beautiful red rock canyon that surrounds the trail. I had hiked Fay Canyon a few years back but never considered exploring the canyon and its many slick-rock plateaus further.

An unusual rock formation, playfully named by long time Westerner Yona Salberg as “Yona’s Godzilla.” Photo by Alan Gore.

While hiking this past summer I overheard other hikers talking about a beautiful hike in Fay Canyon; it perked my interested and I wanted to know when the group could go there to check out the hike. Charlie Schudson, a fellow Sedona Westerner, had spent some time with family and friends back in Fay Canyon and was anxious to show us the gorgeous spots he had discovered. The hike entailed a short strap climb we were warned, but was safe and well worth the effort. A couple weeks later we informally hiked the trail and, much to my amazement, I rediscovered what a beautiful area Fay Canyon is.

It was during this hike we decided that the Mustangs could use this hike as a basis for the coming 2012 hiking season. In true Westerner style, a scouting group went back to the area and investigated several different routes. My husband, Kevin, had found a wonderful slick-rock vista. Becky Fowsky and I investigated some of the surrounding area with the thought of adding mileage and interest to the hike. In the end, our discoveries were pulled together into a cohesive hike well suited for Mustangs.

Since Charlie had started us on this Fay Canyon adventure, it seemed appropriate that he name the hike, and Fayaway was slotted into the Mustang hiking schedule. So it was on a warm Thursday morning in September that the Mustang group of the Sedona Westerners set off to enjoy this adventure. The hike included a few steep climbs, a little slick rock and a strap climb, a crawl through a window rock, some exposure but not a lot of distance. We encountered some beautiful rock formations and amazing views looking out of the canyon with Bell Rock in the distance. With the continual blooming of myriad desert wild flowers, extensive dessert varnish painting the canyon walls and the company of friends, we experienced a renewed admiration for Fay Canyon.

The Westerners always welcome new members! If you are interested in joining the club, visit our website at You may also join by attending any monthly meeting, which is the second Thursday of every month beginning at 7 p.m. at the Jewish Synagogue and Community Center on Meadow Lark Road. (Sedona Westerner’s Fall Club Picnic replaces October meeting)