★★★★★ Easy / Sedona Area
Meandering through a dizzyingly beautiful canyon, this trail plays hopscotch with a gentle stream. Shaded by tall trees and increasingly sky-high cliffs, the West Fork hiking Trail is gorgeous year round, making it a Sedona area favorite.
TRAILHEAD: 89A, Sedona • DIFFICULTY: Easy • DISTANCE: 3 MILES (6 MILES RT) • APPROX. TIME: 3-4 HOURS RT • ELEVATION GAIN: Minimal • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 780–900 • BEST TIME OF YEAR: Year round • PETS: yes • KID FRIENDLY: yes • FACILITIES: YES • FEES: $10 Per vehicle (up to 5 people) or $2 per person walk in
With its dramatic cliffs, shady trees, mostly level path and mind-boggling beauty, the West Fork Hiking Trail is one of the Sedona Area’s undisputed favorites. The hike gently works its way into the recesses of a stunningly tall canyon, alongside a shallow stream that flows into Oak Creek.
To reach the West Fork Trailhead, an access trail first follows the banks of Oak Creek. After a small cross-bridge, it passes through the centuries old Mayhew Lodge homestead, where gnarled apple trees, a crumbled foundation, defunct chicken coops and a cold-storage cave dot the path.
Veering right, the West Fork Hiking Trail enters the canyon and begins its westward journey towards the far reaches. The path criss-crosses the shallow stream multiple times on random stepping stones and fallen logs.
The West Fork Hiking Trail officially ends at the 3-mile mark, beneath some of the canyon’s highest walls. The bases here have been etched into concave curves by centuries of rain gushing luge-like around this turn. It’s possible to hike another 11 miles through the canyon to Forest Road 231. However this requires wading through deeper pools, boulder hopping and some bushwacking.
The Mayhew Lodge was opened by Carl Mayhew in 1925, after he fell in love with the spot while working on the movie “Call of the Canyon.” A room cost $15-25 per night.
Directions From the intersection of 179 and 89A (in Sedona) head north on 89A for 9.5 miles. The trailhead’s “Call of the Canyon” parking lot is located on the left / west side of the road, between mile markers 384 and 385. This small lot opens at 8:00 am, and fills quickly. So get there early if you can.