Long Canyon and It’s Long
March 25, 2016
By Michael & Velma Henry
March 25, 2016
By Michael & Velma Henry
The Sedona Westerner’s Drovers group gathered at the Posse Grounds parking lot, in preparation for the weekly afternoon Sunday hike. This week’s hike was planned to cover a distance of approximately five miles and would follow the Long Canyon Trail. The Drovers were led by Ms. Linda Schermer and the group’s Tailgater was Ms. Julie Zabilski.
Long Canyon is situated northeast of Boynton Canyon. From the hike’s trailhead near the Seven Canyons Resort, the canyon trends northwest toward Secret Mountain. According to local lore, the canyon receives its name from the area’s early settlers because it appears to be the longest of the canyons.
One of the beautiful alcoves walls in Long Canyon with some Sedona Westerners hikers heading to a snack break.
To reach the Long Canyon trailhead hikers should turn west onto Dry Creek Road from Highway 89A in West Sedona, and after three miles turn right onto Long Canyon Road (FR152D). About 0.6 miles from this intersection there is a small parking area on the left and a sign marking the Long Canyon Trailhead. Parking is very limited at the trailhead and drivers may have to park along the roadside.
The trail begins on an old jeep road that once had run up a streambed. The trail is an easy and pleasant hike with many opportunities to enjoy the desert foliage. Just after approximately one mile of hiking, the trail splits to either Deadman’s Pass or Long Canyon Trail. Continue along the Long Canyon trail by going to the right. This is also the beginning of Sedona’s Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness area. From this point, the scenery changes from desert-style scrub to pine trees and shade. The canyon walls become closer as well, reminding hikers they are truly in a canyon environment.
As the trail gently drops onto the vast canyon floor and a thicker forest, hikers can begin to see more of the beautiful rock overhangs. One of the most prominent rock formations to be seen from this trail is the “Ice Cream Cone”. It does look like a huge ice cream cone at least until a different viewing perspective along the trail reveals that it is actually two separate rock formations, creating nature’s version of a trompe l’oeil illusion. On a warmer day this view would really make a person want to go to the closest ice cream parlor after their hike.
From the trail, the Drover hiking Group could easily see Rachel’s Knoll within the Seven Canyons Resort. The hikers identified landmarks such as Steamboat Rock, Wilson Mountain, and Maroon Mountain, along with a number of unnamed cliffs, spires, windows and arches.
The hike leader, Linda Schermer, pointed out the differences between the Limber, Juniper, and Pinyon varieties of pine trees encountered by the hikers. Some of the hikers were lucky enough to find some low-hanging mistletoe with the white berries. The group also encountered cypress, yucca, agave, prickly pear and hedgehog. The leader also noted the crypto biotic soil crusts spanning the canyon floor which were enhancing water absorption and fixing nitrogen levels in this fragile environment.
The trail ended when it reached the red rock canyon walls. The Drovers were given a brief opportunity to explore the area along the beautiful red rock walls before the sun dipped below the canyon wall horizon, necessitating their return to the parking lot.
Long Canyon trail is perfect for a meditative stroll or for the social interaction of a hiking group. The trail is relatively free of obstacles and is well defined for the many visitors that hike it year around. Long Canyon is also considered an area of powerful energies, sometimes referred to as the Long Canyon vortex.
If you are interested in joining the club, visit the Sedona Westerners website or just come to one of our monthly meetings. The next one will be on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 7 pm at Saint John Vianney Parish 180 St. John Vianney Lane in Sedona.