Tag Archives: Oak Creek Visitor Center

Beautiful Views at Doe Mountain Trail

IMG_8973My friend Caroline and I had only a little time left in Sedona Arizona before we had to head back to Los Angeles. We wanted to do a hike so I picked out one from my book, Sedona’s Top 10 Hikes by Dennis Andres, I got from the Oak Creek Visitor CenterDoe Mountain Trail was it’s name and it was said to have some of the best views of all the hikes nearby.

We headed through Sedona on 89A and took a right at a light onto Dry Creek Road, heading north. We reached a T and turned left onto Boynton Road and followed that until we hit another T taking another left onto Boynton Pass Road. The trail was down the road on the left, right off a big parking lot at the base of the mountain. If you reach Aerie Road you have gone too far.

As we arrived at the base of the trail and looked up to the mountain top Caroline and I caught ourselves thinking, ‘We’re going to hike all the way up there in just under a mile? This is gonna be tough.’ But the book informed us that the hike and trail would be moderate difficulty with many switchbacks making the journey a gradual climb up the mountain side. It stated that we would barely notice that we were going up at all with the trail being so gentle and it would be easy to lose our focus.

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As we started our journey we saw two older folks that looked like they hiked often on their way back down the mountain and felt a sigh of relief. ‘If they can do it surely we can do it,’ we thought to ourselves. We headed down the trail, past some trail markers and the sign in book, which we opted not to sign. Before we knew it we were at the base of the mountain and as we looked back toward the car, we were already up above it in the parking lot below.

We began our climb up the mountain and the dirt path narrowed as we reached the switchbacks. We curved around bends and climbed over rocks back and forth, each level leading to a longer distance of walking before reaching the next turn. The dirt was dark red and trees were perfectly green making for a beautiful contrast of colors. We gained elevation pretty quickly and each time we stopped to look at the view there was a drastic difference as we got higher and higher.

Trail was a little tricky and I stumbled a few times as my focus was on the scenery around me not what was under my feet. I tried to stay alert for the occasional rock, stump, and super narrow spots where you have to climb up the rocks or up some stairs without falling down the side of the mountain. The last thing I wanted to end my trip with was with a long tumble down to the bottom of the mountain.

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We reached just below the top of the mountain and noticed an arrow pointing the way back down. Just past this was the last climb up through a narrow chute bringing us to the top. We stopped for a moment to take in the view of where we had come from. It was beautiful. We also took a moment to take one last look at our remaining route up. Cacti scattered the edge of the mountain ridge and gave an interesting and drastic look that you can’t see anywhere else.

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As we came out of the chute I made a mental note of where it was so that we could find our way back. We started to head across the flat top of the mountain. At this point the trail becomes lost with only a few old markers left to guide you. Some have arrows, some do not, but luckily you can usually see the next one from the one before. After a short jaunt we came to the other side where it was even more beautiful than where we came from. Words cannot even describe it.

Instead of heading toward the east, like the book suggested my friend and I opted to take the walk through the different cacti, trees, and over uneven rocks to see if we could reach the other end of the mountain. We passed more amazing views and crossed over and coyote poo and tracks. We made it pretty far on our own trail, sticking close to the edge not to lose our way. We eventually came to one last overlook that we felt was worthy of our final pictures. It was getting late and we still had to climb down and drive all the way home so we decided to head back.

We found the chute we came up and climbed down it. It’s really the only way up or down that’s safe and won’t leave you on the wrong side of the mountain or stranded half way down the side of the mountain according to the book. The trek down the mountain gave us a slightly different view, but it was just as magnificent.

Doe Mesa Trail is absolutely gorgeous. I’ve never seen views anything like it anywhere else. As I continue my travels, I hope to find many places just as beautiful if not more beautiful than it. Even though it rained on and off during our hike I will never forget it. It’s one of those hikes that I will be sure to do again next time I am in Sedona and I hope that you will get to try it too.

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Choose Your Own Adventure Red Rock Crossing at Cathedral Rock

IMG_8973On my trip to Sedona Arizona with my friend I purchased a book of hikes from the Oaks Creek Visitor Center and was eager to try an easy one. We settled on Red Rock Crossing which is said to have beautiful views of Cathedral Rock.

We pulled up to Crescent Moon Ranch of the Coconino National Forest ready to start our hike. Since it was Memorial Day weekend parking in many of the parks was free, but because we got there pretty late in the day the lot was full. Not a great way to start our hike, but we weren’t concerned about it. We were excited to see Cathedral Rock.

We found a spot on the side of the road about .5 miles away and walked to the park. It was a little confusing to find the start of the trail since the park did not have proper maps that placed our hike on them, but with the help of the book we eventually found what we thought was the beginning.

As we headed to the beginning of the trail, far to the back of the park and past the OK ranch and first homestead on this site we stopped for a moment to view the ranch that still stands there today. In the late 1800’s Jon Lee dug new channels to bring water to this homestead. The water was used for irrigation, watering livestock, night baths, and cool drinking water. As the homestead grew and thrived they were able to sustain peaches, apricot, apple, plum and grape orchards in the early 1900’s. In the 1930’s they ordered a custom built water wheel that can still be seen today. With this wheel they were able to pump enough water to fill storage tanks and provide electricity to the ranch.

We reached the beginning of the dirt path that runs along Oak Creek and started to follow it. We stayed to the south path, but if you can figure out how to cross the creek without getting wet there is also a north path to explore. I believe there are a few main places to cross. One is at the very beginning, instead of walking toward Cathedral Rock walk away from it. There’s a small dam-like rock path that you might be able to cross over that we didn’t find until we were leaving. Another is farther down with three branches over a fast section of water, but looked super slippery while we were there. Other hikers also say that there were places to cross further down than that, but my friend and I didn’t find any of them.

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My friend and I stuck to the south path which was beautifully covered by trees with little openings to the creek that allow for amazing picture opportunities of Cathedral Rock. We hugged the creek most of the way until the trail ended without reaching anything of big importance. Along the way we saw multitudes of balancing rocks. The place was covered in them. Everywhere you looked and walked you were surrounded. They were on the ground, on rocks, in trees, in posts. It was crazy. We also stumbled upon an old water wheel and a few waterholes that looked perfect for fishing. We even came across a field that we walked through a bit and connects back to the trail.

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The fun didn’t actually start though until we waded through the water and played on the rocks that have been carved by the creek. The rocks are a bit slippery so be careful and the water was a bit chilly. However, no one seemed to care too much. There were people swimming, fishing, exploring and having a great time. We even saw some tadpoles in the crevasses of the rocks we were walking along so keep your eyes peeled.

This hike is great for all ages and very easy. It rained on and off the whole time we were there which made it a bit muddy but the trees helped shelter us so we didn’t get too wet. I would try to pick a day that isn’t raining unless you plan on going in the water. You can also make the hike more difficult if you cross the creek or pick some of the trails that run right near the water’s edge. And for the best views of Cathedral Rock be sure to wade out into the water and stand on the red rocks in the center of the creek.

First Settlement at Indian Gardens & Oak Creek Visitor Center

IMG_8971On my friend and my way into Sedona Arizona we stopped at the first visitor center we saw, Oak Creek Visitor Center. It is located just 4 miles north of Sedona off 89A next to the Indian Gardens Oak Creek Market. We wanted to gather some information and find out about different sights that we might be interested in seeing while we were there.

We took a few moments to look around the tiny store about the size of a small bedroom and then went to speak with the employee behind the counter. She was extremely friendly and helpful, I wish I could remember her name. She told us about different hikes we could try, gave us a few maps of the area including one that stretched up to the Grand Canyon, and showed us an amazing book which I ended up purchasing.

As we headed out I remembered that right before we turned off the road to pull into the parking lot I had noticed a history marker on the opposite side of the road. I ran back inside to ask her about it and she told me how Indian Gardens was the homesite of the first settler in Oak Creek Canyon. In 1875 scouts from Fort Verde, now Camp Verde, captured a small band of Tonto Apache Indians. The following year, Jim Thompson took “squatter rights” to that piece of land. There he found the Indian’s deserted gardens where the Indians had grown corn and squash and healthy springs. He decided to built a log cabin and named it Indian Gardens Ranch.

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Since then the name has been changed to Indian Gardens and as the years past Thompson expanded his settlement to include more cabins, a 2-story building, and even a school. While the none of the structures are there today and development has occurred with new cabins and establishments where the old cabins and school were located, the river and some stone walls are still there. So, while there isn’t really much to see, it’s still nice to learn about the history of a place and be at the original location of where others settled long ago.