Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

February 13, 2015

Sycamore Canyon

 


by Kent Wood

On 11/22/14 I decided to forget watching football (and thus recorded the Utah/Arizona Football Game), so I joined up with Westerners at Sedona’s Posse Grounds Park for a new hiking adventure called the "Sycamore Lollipop" Hike. This hike started on the Dogie Trailhead that is at the end of forest road 525C, 12 miles from highway 89A outside Sedona.


The road itself is in good condition, but 4WD and high clearance vehicles are recommended. The Dogie Trail offers hikers a chance to experience one of Arizona's spectacular views without all of the crowds. This was the first hike that I’ve done that had complete solitude. We were all by ourselves on a beautiful Saturday morning! The trail first ascends from the trailhead until it reaches the sign-in/register book and a metal gate on a barbwire fence. After walking through and closing the squeaky old metal gate, the trail descends immediately. The trail continues down until a level area is reached. Here there is another opening in a barbed wire fence, just prior to the Dogie Tank at approximately the 2-mile mark. There was no water in Dogie Tank, the old stock pond only had lots of brush in it to indicate filling from previous rains. The lollipop loop then heads northwest from the Tank, and the trail ascends slightly on a trail of river rock stone. The trail then descends and switches from river rock to red rock. The closest red rock formations look like two creatures kissing, the views are stunning, and they only got better as sycamore canyon proper comes into view. There are many forays in and out of drainages and smaller canyons, with some sections of trail being quite steep. There are a few ups and downs on this trail leading to Sycamore creek.

Eventually, Sycamore creek came into view. The final descent into the canyon led to a sandy area just prior to the river rock-filled sycamore creek bed that was dry. The creek bed looked like a dried up ancient riverbed filled with erosion-smoothed boulders of all colors and sizes. Without rain for quite a while there was no creek water, only occasional water in fly ridden bowls of murky water naturally carved by years of erosion.

Although I thought the main trail headed north to Taylor Cabin, the Westerner guides led us southward toward Cottonwood. We all seemed to pick separate paths through the creek bed of colorful boulders and some of us walked through the smaller pebbled areas. The rocks that loosened from our steps would crack and the sound echoed through the canyon walls of the creek bed. There were infinite ways to make your way through the smooth rock filled creek bed, and you didn’t dare look up while you picked your way through multiple stepping-stones. The colors, shapes and solitude were different from any hike I had ever taken. The rocks were igneous (granite and lava) and sandstone, with many having almost perfect circular shapes. The colors were several shades of gray, red, pink, and lighter shades of all. We had lunch on natural lounge chairs made of the smoothened rocks.

The bouldering part of the hike lasted at least a mile or more and my balance, knees, feet and ankles were all tested as I walked through my self-chosen stone-steps. I would rest once in a while and look up at the beautiful canyon walls and all the rugged beauty unspoiled and untamed by man. I also hummed the tune of Sister Christian but changed the words from “motoring” to “bouldering”. Then the leaders of the hike said they found the opening of a small canyon that we looped back in the lollipop formation (back to the “stick” at Dogie tank).

This small canyon didn’t appear to be a trail. You had to climb up and over many logs, dry waterfalls, and lift yourself through multiple rocks and walls to finally end up back on the trail. This was a steep part of the trail through brush and loose rock to work our way around the cliff. The tight area around the cliff was exhilarating and one hiker almost lost his walking stick down into the rocks. From there it was a fun adventure working our way up an ancient smaller wash that had been cut through the canyon over millions of years that eventually lead us back to the Dogie Tank. Then we had about 2 more miles back to the trailhead. This was a great hike, but my knees, ankles and feet were a bit sore from all the “bouldering”.

If you are interested in joining the club, please go to our website at http://sedonawesterners.org or just come to one of our monthly meetings. The next one will be on Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 7 pm at the Sedona Elks Club, 110 Airport Road.