The Incredible Carroll Canyon Hike
The Old Post, Ridge, Carroll Canyon, and Herkenham Trails.
On a recent cool, clear Tuesday morning a group of us Sedona Westerners assembled at Posse Grounds to share rides to the trailhead on Shelby Rd. This interconnected series of trails lie within West Sedona, but are mostly well out of sight of developed areas. They are accessed from three different trailheads; but are all closely connected at the Shelby Rd. trailhead (accessed across from the Recycle Center). We entered here, and followed the Old Post Trail. It turns west after 100 yards at its junction with the Ridge Trail, and continues for half a mile before turning south. This is where the Carroll Canyon Trail is intersected. The Old Post curves west, gradually ascending with nice views to the north.
We passed through groves of Arizona Cypress, and Junipers. The area is rich in a variety of plant life native to Sedona and the Verde Valley. These trails have easy to moderate grades with little overall elevation change and are well signed. One can create their own hike length, and time, by checking the Forest Service map at the Shelby Rd. trail head. Having your own map on this hike will help because several trails crisscross the area.
Around 1900 Tom Carroll homesteaded land in this area. Unable to make it, he sold the land to Henry Schuerman. Schuerman irrigated Peach trees from Oak Creek and was known for his wine made from the peaches. A portion of this land is now Red Rock State Park. By entering on the Old Post Trail you're treated to spectacular views early in the hike, plus a slice of Sedona history. This trail once served as a mail route in horse-and-buggy days. Thus the "Post Trail".
The hike into Carroll Canyon follows a stream-bed through a rock canyon southwest of the airport hill. It is a quiet, away-from-the-crowds hike. The canyon has a continuous series of terraces, and drop-offs. During monsoon seasons it has some dramatic and exciting scenes as creek water plummets toward Oak Creek. There are waterfalls, cascades, and pools. As you look down into Carroll Canyon you can see it deepen with craggy cliffs rising on both sides. There are several overlooks that give you great photographic opportunities. You have views of pools that remain long after the rains are forgotten. This hike gets you up on some high sections that will give you a chance to take some very scenic pictures so don't forget to bring a camera.
As the Old Post trail bottoms out, it meets the end of the Herkenham Trail. There are beautiful views of Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, The Pyramid, and Napoleon's Tomb. We crossed Chavez Road, and continued for several hundred yards onto a visible "saddle" and overlook that has panoramic vistas looking down at Oak Creek and Red Rock Crossing. We took advantage of this good resting place to have lunch and enjoy more conversation. After lunch we continued back the way we came, and once again crossed Chavez Road. We then took a turn up onto Table Top Mesa. This is very exposed and even on a cool day in the upper 70's, temperatures felt hot. I urge all hikers to wear hats and bring plenty of water, and having snacks is a good idea. We continued along Table Top on the opposite side of the Canyon from where we had come earlier. This forms a loop and brought us back to the Carroll Canyon trail.
With a little planning and care this is a most enjoyable and beautiful hike. Both for the seasoned hiker and the novice. You are rewarded with panoramic views that represent the entire Sedona landscape. One can have a five hour hike, or a short relaxed morning hike and be back in time for lunch in Sedona.
The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining, visit www.sedonawesterners.org. You also may join at our monthly meetings. The next one is February 14th, 2013 7:00 PM, at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.