Sedona hikes: Woods Canyon Trail a creekside haven
SEDONA, Ariz. — Many hikers find the Flagstaff area too cold to hike this time of year, but don’t want to go to Phoenix — Sedona is a great alternative.
Some hikers say there are no bad hikes in Sedona, but some hikes are better than others and Woods Canyon Trail is one of the best because Dry Beaver Creek runs alongside part of the trail.
Woods Canyon Trail made Arizona Highways Hiking Guide of 52 best day hikes, which lets you know that this hike is impressive.
Dry Beaver Creek runs almost year round and has a strange name for a waterway that has plenty of water. The irony is that Arizona has plenty of lakes that go dry because of its weather. The most famous may be San Carlos Lake —years ago Will Rogers came to it and said if this was his lake, he would mow it.
Going on Woods Canyon Trail this time of year means the sun is going to be in your eyes as you start onto the trail, but the water in a small creek crossing toward the beginning is frozen over.
During the first 2.3 miles of this trek, there isn’t much water. This is where the Munds Mountain Wilderness sign appears.
Munds Mountain Wilderness is one 90 wilderness areas in Arizona as designated by Congress. According to the Wilderness Act of 1964, wilderness is undeveloped federal land with the imprint of man unnoticeable. The designation as wilderness area means the land gets the highest level of protection.
Those visiting wilderness areas are welcome to hunt, fish, hike, backpack, photograph, raft and canoe. Prohibited activities in wilderness areas include commercial enterprises, road building, motorized vehicles and power lines.
Wilderness areas can be located on Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and National Park Service land. The Arizona Wilderness Coalition has the mission to protect and restore wilderness lands and water in Arizona as they help with the upkeep of these lands.
Woods Canyon Trail is an easy eight mile hike (roundtrip). The trek up until the Munds Mountain Wilderness sign is fairly flat, but then starts a bit of a descent and shortly after that Dry Beaver Creek appears.
Woods Canyon Trail may not be a good trail to run because of cactus by the side of the trail. At some points, Dry Beaver Creek is running pretty strong with water cascading like mini waterfalls. The water appears to hardly be moving in other sections and will tempt swimmers on warmer days.
The hike begins at the Sedona Ranger Station parking lot where restrooms are available. Shortly into the hike, you are along an old jeep road. Arizona sycamores, other trees and surrounding mountains make for nice views.
Woods Canyon Trail connects with Horse Mesa and Hot Loop Trails for those who want more mileage. One hiker warns that Hot Loop Trail is especially rocky and strenuous.
About a quarter mile from the wilderness sign, hikers can walk or take breaks on the large boulders that go along side of Dry Beaver Creek.
Directions: Located south of Sedona, from the junction of U.S. 89A and 179 in Sedona, head south on 179 and drive about 8.4 miles to Red Rock Ranger District office and visitor center at milepost 304.7.
Length: 4.25 miles - one way.
Elevation: 3,883 feet at trailhead
Resources: Arizona Highways Hiking Guide and Day Hikes Around Sedona
More information: Red Rock District (928) 203-2900