A Walk In The Clouds
May 1, 2015
by Wayne Swart
For me, a trip to Cottonwood usually involves a chance to sample one of the fine restaurants. My journey this past Saturday, with the Sedona Westerners Rough Rider group, was for a different kind of treat. The group assembled for a new hike to the club, the Black Canyon trail in the Prescott National Forest. The trail head starts where Ogden Ranch Road ends, just a couple miles from Cottonwood. It is a well-established trail, very easy to follow for the first 3 miles, but a bit sketchy after that. Fortunately the Westerners have always had very capable leadership, and todays hike was no different, with Ken and Cheri Ferguson at the helm.
The round trip journey is about 8 miles. The initial mile or so was relatively flat, but as we hiked into Black Canyon there was some considerable elevation gain. With this gain the plant life changed from cactus and mesquite to pine and scrub oak. Very quickly the sights and sounds of the Verde Valley were replaced with a beautiful canyon and the sounds of rushing water. We marveled at some very peculiar rock formations. Some of the same geology of Jerome had been found in Black Canyon, with some of the canyon’s early explorers being miners seeking a reward of silver and copper. Our group was more focused on being able to enjoy this canyon for a reward of scenery. As we walked along the flowing waters of Black Canyon the unmistakable sounds of a water fall led us forward. Sure enough, at the head of the canyon is an 80 foot water fall, a sight one does not expect to see in Arizona. The recent snow melt fed this water course and provided us with a great spot for a lunch break. We were able to sit only feet away from the cascading water, and took in all the beauty nature had to offer.
After a quick meal the group started our way back down the canyon to the trailhead. As we did so a weather system moved in and gave us a wonderful experience of “A Walk in the Clouds”. We were enveloped in mist, and at times rain. But, it was beautiful. Ascending out of the canyon we were above the cloud system, looking down into an enshrouded canyon. These sights were difficult to capture on a camera, although many of us tried our best.
These sights are best experienced by lacing up the hiking boots and hitting the trails. It is even better to hit the trails with a group of hiking enthusiasts. The Sedona Westerners have a considerable catalog of hikes, and I suspect the Black Canyon hike is going to be added to the permanent list. It is a strenuous hike, with a cumulative elevation gain of 2650 feet, but the effort is well worth it.
As we returned to the parking lot, we shook off the last few drops of rain, and reflected on the beauty that surrounded us. Many of us were already looking forward to the next Sedona Westerners adventure.
One of the larger waterfalls in Black Canyon.
If you are interested in joining the Sedona Westerners, please go to our website - sedonawesterners.org