Roaming the Southwest Day 3: Hiking in Sedona

West Fork Oak Creek Trail

First on the agenda for today was hiking the popular West Fork Oak Creek Trail. I had read many reviews stating that the parking lot ($10 fee per car) gets filled up pretty early, so we prepared a quick breakfast in our studio’s kitchenette and hit the road for Oak Creek.

It turns out that the 20 minute drive up to the trailhead is pretty picturesque in itself, winding though the Coconino National Forest and over the Midgley Bridge.

Midgley Bridge Coconino National Forest
Midgley Bridge photo courtesy of Wikipedia commons.

There was hardly any other vehicles at the parking lot when we arrived at 8:30am and we felt like we had the trail virtually to ourselves for a while. My one huge mistake is that I wore shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt which seemed fine back at the resort. But the temperature in the shade at Oak Creek was at least 10-15 degrees cooler and I was practically running the trail at first in an attempt to stay warm!

West Fork Oak Creek Trail
Colleen was smart enough to bring a jacket.

True to the reviews, this is indeed a very pretty trail with about 13 creeks crossings that you accomplish by hopping across some well-placed stones.

West Fork Oak Creek Trail
Typical scenery on the trail with stepping stones in foreground. Photo courtesy of wikipedia commons.

On the way back, the trail (about 3.3 miles each way) was definitely more crowded with folks starting out from the other direction but at least the sun had finally cleared the surrounding rocks and I was narrowly spared hypothermia. By the time we left, there was a huge line of cars waiting outside the gate to park so it does pay to arrive early.

Since you can never have enough tacos, we headed back to Sedona for lunch at Tortas Del Fuego and to plot the rest of the day. We had discussed hiking Devil’s Bridge in the afternoon but just like yesterday, it seemed to be getting late kinda quick. So we picked the flatter Little Horse Trail instead, saving Devil’s Bridge for tomorrow morning.

Little Horse Trail

Little Horse ($5 parking fee per car) is about 3.5 miles roundtrip and offers excellent views of the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a unique structure which is actually built into the buttes.

Chapel of the Holy Cross Sedona
Chapel of the Holy Cross.

Also prominent were two unique rock formations that I nicknamed the “two elephants” but we later found out they had already been named the “two nuns” (get it, because of the chapel nearby?). Just for the record, I think two elephants is a way better name.

two nuns sedona
Elephants or nuns? You decide!

On the return leg, we ran across a woman hiking Little Horse with an enormous parrot on her arm which is definitely something you don’t see every day!

Bar 1902 and Sedona Springs

Back in the car, we made a beeline for the Whole Foods Happy Hour again to partake in the Mother Road Tower Station IPA which had been replenished since yesterday. Wow, definitely worth the wait – this is a top notch New England style IPA!

In case you are wondering about the unique name, “Mother Road” is a nickname for the (now historic) Route 66 and the Tower Station was an iconic filling station and cafe which has been turned into a museum and visitors center.

tower station beer
The actual Tower Station, not the beer! Photo courtesy of Wikipedia commons.

For my second beer, I had a Stone Xocoveza, which is a strong stout styled after Mexican hot chocolate. Xocoveza is fast becoming one of my favorite winter beers and at 8.0% ABV, it won’t ruin your entire next day if you drink two or three, unlike some of my favorite 10-12% imperial stouts.

One of the nice things about staying at Sedona Springs Resort is that they have various activities and social events throughout the week. Tonight, there was a photography presentation which we attended before dinner. This presentation was extremely worthwhile – the photos were stunning and the photographer, Brent Jones, was very engaging and informative.

Since we had enjoyed grilling under the stars so much the night before, we decided to prepare some top sirloin steaks and asparagus for this evening. It was another perfect day that had me regretting we didn’t budget an extra night in Sedona!