On Foot or By Jeep, There Are Many Ways to Chicken Point
Locals often tell visitors that if they have time for only one spectacular red rock view while in Sedona, they must take a jeep tour to Chicken Point. This landmark was the main focus of this Westerners hike. Chicken Point, with the other objectives Submarine Rock and Devil’s Dining Room, are at the back of Twin Buttes, the mountain where Chapel of the Red Rocks is located.
It was decided that Dennis Perry would be the leader and the scribe, Alan Gore, would also act as “Tailgater” at the rear of the party. The trail began by climbing around the back of Twin Buttes toward the turnoff for Submarine Rock. For our first water break, the group stopped at the Devil’s Dining Room, a narrow funnel-shaped sinkhole that plunges seventy-five feet. It’s a favorite nesting place for bats. After the sinkhole, the trail heads eastward toward Submarine Rock. This takes hikers across the jeep road to Chicken Point, then a lightly forested flat. Passing many Arizona cypresses, with their multicolored bark, some examples of this tree grow up tightly twisted, and researchers don’t know why. Could it be the vortices?
When the western end of Submarine Rock is reached, Perry doesn’t climb immediately but stays in the thickening forest to the eastern end of the Rock. This route takes the Amblers through taller trees, with brilliant green patches of winter moss on the ground. When one sees dormant black moss beside the trail in summer, don’t step on it! Then Perry leads the climb up the ‘conning tower’ knob end of the Rock. The weather, overcast at the beginning of the hike, began to break up into cumulus clouds and blue sky.
Here, surrounded by views of the Crimson Cliffs and Munds Mountain, a snack break was in order. Because Submarine Rock is a favorite stop for jeep tours, by the time Perry gets underway again, a cluster of jeeps was already convening at the base of the Rock. Climbing down the northwestern side, the trail heads off to Chicken Point by way of the jeep road. This is one of the most heavily used jeep tracks in town; two jeep parties passed by as the hikers’ progression continues to Chicken Point.
Chicken Point is a large area of open slick rock, a 275 million year old beach, with a small rocky knob on one side. It is said that the name came from drivers chasing each other around the central knob and scaring one another as they approached the rim of the point. Here one finds themselves surrounded by higher and closer rocks than at Submarine. From Chicken Point, one sees the Little Horse trail heading down the hill on the south side of Twin Buttes toward the Chapel. In the far distance 179 is visible. But either way you look one is surrounds by a 360 panoramic view!
This was today’s lunch stop, sharing the perch with several jeep tour parties and a steady stream of mountain bikers. For many visitors, Chicken Point is their only direct, off-road encounter with the Sedona red rocks...... on that jeep tour squeezed in before an afternoon of golf. Watching a jeep party take the steepest rear face of the rock for thrills and disappearing quickly from sight, Perry gathered his group as it was time to go back.
The loop was completed by taking the trail directly at the base of the mountain, well above the jeep road. The Amblers crossed at the bottom of the ‘Nuns’, huge leaning pillars of crumbling sandstone that looked imminently ready to fall, as mountain bikers swished past up trail. By now the last of the clouds had burned away, leaving nothing but lacy cirrus against the sky. It was time once again to return to the trailhead and a quiet afternoon.
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.