Sunday, March 23, 2014

Woods Canyon: A Lightly Traveled Oasis South of Sedona

Today being Sunday and the middle of spring break season, we wanted a trail that might be less crowded than the typical Sedona trail on a weekend. Woods Canyon Trail delivered on so many levels! The trail begins at the Red Rock Ranger Station on hwy 179; since we're staying in Cottonwood it was easy to access the trail head without going through the crazy Sedona weekend traffic.

I believe this trail is lightly traveled because it doesn't have the dramatic rock formations that Sedona is famous for. What it does have, at least when we hiked it, is water. Even though rain has been sparse this winter, Dry Beaver Creek was flowing in several sections making this a very memorable hike. In a wet year the flowers must be incredible!

Here's a snapshot of what you'll see on this trail...

After crossing a riparian area at the trail head you enter a rather open meadow that soon enters the lush plant life of Dry Creeks floodplain. Though there was no water for the first couple of miles, it was obvious there was moisture underground and the flora was thriving.

At about 2.5 miles in you hear water burbling over rocks and soon thereafter see water flowing in the creek bed strewn with rounded gray boulders, watched over by naked white sycamore trees just barely beginning to bud.

At about 3.5 miles you reach the confluence of Woods Canyon and Rattlesnake Canyon and you are in for a treat! Here, the contrasting rocks are mesmerizing. Giant red sandstone boulders on the North meet the round gray boulders of the creek bed.

We went just a little beyond the confluence, maybe a quarter mile. At first it seems the trail might be done, but soon it's visible once again. We turned around at a point where we could see some beautiful red rock in the distance.

This trail had so much going for it. Gentle ups and downs, bringing you from the lush creek level to just high enough for canyon views. The plant variety was incredible and at this time of year deciduous trees were just starting to bud. Though it's high season in Sedona we saw one family group that were hiking out after spending the night and one other solitary hiker. It was a wonderful day!

We haven't seen oak trees in months.
Here, they added a touch of yellow to the landscape.

The sight of water at about 2.5 miles was breathtaking.

Today must have been tree day for me, I was entranced by so many of them!
This sycamore looked like it had been through a lot in its long life.

Another sycamore with embedded rocks.

The canyon wall to our North was red sandstone topped with black lava.
The lava slows the erosion of the sandstone.

A close up of one of the sandstone formations above shows that thousands of years from now
this area may look as dramatic as other parts of Sedona.

Looking back down canyon the colors are amazing!

We're approaching the confluence of Woods Canyon to the left and Rattlesnake Canyon on the right.

Here, Woods Canyon wowed us with color...
I was fascinated by the contrasting stone!

This was our turn around point.

Another gorgeous oak tree!

I loved the spooky look of these naked sycamores.

The end of a truly gorgeous day on the trail!


  1. Lisa, you are absolutely right, its breathtaking. The sycamore tree's root is also fascinating.

  2. You definitely found the place to be during a spring break weekend!

    Boy, there certainly was a lot contrasting colors going on out there. I love how in certain areas the red rocks sneak into the landscape.

    Lisa, you did a great job with that first water photo. The reflection with that white streak in the sky really brings the beauty out of the rocky landscape. Beautiful photo:)

  3. Hope this isn't a duplicate comment, I'm having computer issues this morning :-(. Thanks for sharing this great "unbeaten path" - beautiful hike captured beautifully.

  4. Beautiful post. I love the way the red rock pops up here and there. Sedona is just gorgeous.

  5. nice hike Lisa. Wish we could have joined you there in Sedona but we are needed with family right now.

    1. Totally understand you are where you need to be. If you are ever in the area, this one comes highly recommended!

  6. Stunning photos. I love the contrasting colors of the rocks too. We are seeing some gorgeous sycamores down here in Patagonia AZ as well, just starting to get the first small green leaves. Thanks for sharing this lovely hike!