A Challenge in Your Own Back Yard: Big Park Overlook
December 11, 2015
by Deborah Losse
Just the second hike for the Rustlers, the newest Sedona Westerner hiking group, Big Park Overlook provides an ideal terrain for hikers who seek a trail that is centrally located, but offers a bit of a challenge in the way of a steep climb. Situated just across from the Bell Rock Trailhead, Big Park Overlook proceeds along a gentle slope on the Slim Shady Trail until it takes the hikers up a steep incline leading to breathtaking views of both Big Park and Bell Rock.
As hikers assembled in the Village of Oak Creek, there was a sense of excitement that a new group had been formed to cater to those who work during the week and may not wish to devote an entire Saturday to hiking. The Rustler hikes offer a mix of gentle slopes and steeper trails. Hikes usually end by 1PM.
The Village of Oak Creek and Twin Buttes as seen from Big Park Overlook along Slim Shady Trail. The new Sedona Westerners Rustlers group traversed this as their second ever hike.The Rustler hikes will offer a mix of gentle slopes and steeper trails.
The leaders of the hike were Marion and Hadji Hadji-Agha, with Michael Henry and Cathy Lutz serving as tailgaters. At the outset of the hike, Marion explained that the trail provides a good workout after the summer months when higher temperatures place some limits on intensive hiking. Hikers set out on the trail and greeted the early morning bicyclists on the lower part of the trail. The upper part is off limits to bicycles. With the hiking season just a month old, Westerners could be heard catching up on recent summer activities and trips to cooler climes. Once the steeper part of the trail began, hikers concentrated on watching their footing, drinking plenty of water, and taking in the views of Bell Rock and beyond. Those with cameras and good balance stopped from time to time to take pictures.
The trail opens up onto a rock formation that affords a stunning view of Courthouse Butte and Lee Mountain. Club members paused to admire the panorama and then advanced up the trail as it passed animal tracks and a small animal lair. Hikers speculated on the identity of the small creature that had left its tracks: bobcat, fox, coyote? Cat's claw and yucca plants were obstacles to be avoided, but once on top, hikers took in the broad expanse of high rock formations, the schools and houses in Big Park, and the far off shapes of Chicken Point and Gibraltar.
A fifteen-minute break gave the Sedona Westerners an opportunity to chat, admire the views, and rehydrate--a just reward for the effort expended in climbing to the top. Preparing the hikers for the hike down, the leaders reminded them to proceed with caution. Clouds that had been threatening earlier in the morning cleared to let the sun shine through.
Hikers continued to share their appreciation for the beauty of Sedona's red rocks as they proceeded down. Perhaps because it was the noon hour, the bicycles that were much in evidence earlier in the day had disappeared, leaving the trails to the hikers. Once back at the Bell Rock Trailhead after a lively trek of four miles, hikers thanked the hike leaders for introducing them to a trail that is at once accessible and challenging.