Monday, April 7, 2014

Exploring Sycamore and Verde Canyons

We hiked Parsons Trail in Sycamore Canyon back in November 2012. That day we didn't make it to the end of trail, we hadn't left ourselves enough time before we were to meet the Good Luck Duckians. This time we were determined to hike the full trail, it's only 3.7 miles one way, other than the initial drop into the canyon, it's relatively flat going.

The 9 miles of dirt road to the trail head is in pretty good shape, even a sedan could make's just a little rough in the last mile. This canyon is a beauty. Two springs within four miles make it a riparian oasis in the desert. Towering red rock and basalt cliffs form the canyon walls. There are several lovely pools along the way, making this a busy place in warm weather. After you reach Parsons Spring you can continue up the rocky, seasonal stream bed as far as you want.

View from the trail head. You drop 180 feet into the canyon, then it's pretty easy going up stream.

There are several stream crossings.

People were swimming here on our way out...the water was pretty cool though!

The beauty of each pool we came to just had me sighing with pleasure!

Our turn around point was a few hundred yards beyond the spring and into the rocky seasonal stream bed.
We even loved the dry stream bed...the variety of rocks was amazing!

One last photo as we made our way's just so darn pretty!

Sycamore Canyon, above, joins Verde Canyon and the Verde River. We wanted to take the Verde Canyon Railroad trip but were not too interested in the high price tag for first class seats: $79.95/each. So we braved the crazy tourist section of Sedona, found a visitor center offering deeply discounted train tickets ($49.95 for two first class tickets), and sat through a timeshare presentation in order to receive the tickets.

A little painful, but also somewhat interesting because we had passed by Sedona Pines Resort several times and noticed the RV's parked out front but couldn't find any detail on the place. Turns out it is a timeshare resort that offers RV parking to its owners. Anyhow, we didn't buy a timeshare and probably never will...but we did get to ride the train!

Verde Canyon Railroad is a four hour, slow journey on a vintage train for 20 miles up (and back down) the Verde Canyon. First class gives you comfy indoor seats, tasty snacks, beverage service and access to an open air viewing carriage. The train follows the Verde River the whole way and you are likely to see Bald Eagles as well as other large raptors. We saw at least six bald eagles!

We had a great time and I made a very big mistake when we got home...I erased all the photos from my camera without downloading them to my laptop! That's a first...and hopefully the last time that ever happens...that's I what I get for not following my normal routine. And no, alcohol was not a factor! Anyhow, here's a shot from Hans cell phone!

Verde Canyon Railroad

The train ride was fun, especially at the rate we paid! We highly recommend the Parsons Trail in Sycamore Canyon for its incredible beauty. The Packard Trail is also accessed at Sycamore Canyon trail head; since it's an exposed hike we'll save that one for another time when the weather is cool.


  1. OK...I can hardly wait....Parsons Trail is on our list!

    It's funny how the smallest change in the routine can throw everything out of whack! I did the same....erased the pictures....after a hike we took in Moab! Lucky for me, we repeated the hike later with friends!

    1. Routine is key for me when transferring photos. And I was really looking forward to seeing if any of the eagle shots were good! It's not easy to photograph flying birds you know! Unfortunately we won't be taking the train again...

      You will love this hike!

  2. Sorry you lost the photos of the Verde Canyon train ride, I would like to have seen them. The photos of Sycamore Canyon are amazing.

    1. Sycamore Canyon was the prettier of the two, so we were lucky there!

  3. The ponds are so beautiful, I would want to spend the whole day there! Hans practically disappears into the rocks :-). The train sounds like a great change of pace - I love the narrow gauge train from Durango to Silverton in Colorado.

  4. Oh I hate when I do that! We went to Biosphere a couple of years ago, and I reformatted my card before downloading. Not sure what the heck I was thinking. Fortunately we were with friends who had a camera.
    When we were in Sedona we got a helicopter ride for free in exchange for 90 minutes of sales pitch. When you tell that flat out that you're not buying anything, they shorten it a little.
    The train ride looks like it would be fun to do.

    1. Fortunately the two canyons are similar looking...with Sycamore being the prettier so it all worked out....I will never do that again!!!!!!

      FREE helicopter!

  5. What a gorgeous hike! I love the water any time. You are right about that last photo. It is beautiful. I like that narrow rock path right along the water.

    Great find to get discount tickets for the train ride, Sorry about your photos:( With all the photos you have taken over the years, you have done well.

    1. Yeah, I'm not kicking myself too much about the loss of photos...there are so darn many it's ridiculous!

  6. I am sighing with pleasure with you just looking at the picture. All pictures are breathtaking. It's still a long ways for us to get there but definitely on our list.

    I can relate, when we change routine things just go haywire. Luckily you have a good backup with Hans.

  7. What a gorgeous area. Thanks for sharing.