October 23, 2012

Huckaby Trail, Oak Creek Canyon, near Sedona, AZ

Fall is such an amazing time in Northern Arizona. Brilliant blue skies, warm temperatures, and hikes available at every elevation. Fall colors start high up on the peaks in September and migrate down to the deserts in November. As the fall colors have past peak in Flagstaff, we decided to see what was happening 2,000 feet lower in Sedona. We drove down to Oak Creek Canyon. West Fork Oak Creek, the world famous canyon I have written about previously is at full peak color and was jammed packed with people. We decided to avoid the crowds and head further downstream to the Huckaby Trail to follow the mainstem of Oak Creek just above Sedona. While temperatures remain in the upper-60's in Flagstaff, they were in the mid-70's in Sedona. What a comfortable temperature for late October.

We parked at Midgely Bridge, which spans a side canyon. The parking is tight, but if you go early enough, you can find a spot. The trail then descends under the bridge and heads downslope toward the bottom of the canyon. Upon arriving at the creek, you find yourself under a canopy of large sycamores, alders, and willows. Interestingly, the trees really have not yet started changing colors at 5,000 feet yet. Most of them were still completely green.

There are two sections of the creek you have to cross, but the stones are large and piled up nicely to cross without getting wet. On the otherside of Oak Creek, you will pass an old orchard of what look like apricots or peaches, although the trees are so old and spindly, it's hard to tell. The site must be well over 100 years old.

The trail follows the edge of the riparian strip for the next mile or so. Most of the large trees are sycamores, but there are some cottonwoods, as well as, some large Ponderosa pines growing at the edge of the riparian zone and 2,000 feet below the main portion of their range. The ground water and shade of the canyon must allow them to just hang on.

The beautiful fall colors of poison ivy along the river

Eventually the trail climbs out of the canyon floor and onto the slides of the slopes. The vegetation transitions into the typical juniper and desert scrub of the area with lots of prickly pears, sugar sumac, manzanita, and even a few ocotillos. Once it rises out of the canyon, you get some great views of the surrounding landscape.


The trail continues onto Schnebly Hill Road where there is another parking area. Linda and Hilina continued down the road to Tlaaquepaque for ice cream and then into Uptown Sedona. I walked back with Sophie the way we came to get the car and then meet them in Uptown.

Looking back up Oak Creek Canyon to Midgely Bridge with Mount Wilson above to the left

All-in-all, this 6 mile round trip makes for a wonderful fall hike to do.

A view into Uptown Sedona

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