Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
Recommended supplies and information:
- Leave early in the morning
- Bring at least 100 ounces (3 liters) of water
- Small First Aid Kit
- Trekking Pole for the ascent and descent
Approximate Trekking information:
Distance: 3.85 miles (6.2 km)
Total Hiking Time: 4 hours
Elevation at base 4,508 ft to 5,551 ft at canyon summit: 1043 ft ascension climb
Metrics: 1374 meters to 1690 meters at canyon summit: 316 meters ascension climb
Temperature for November 15, 2014: 74.3F to 68.7F / 23.5C to 20.5C
Family Friendly Trek with Panoramic Beauty
Long Canyon Trail was perhaps the most outstanding trek of the year. Mid November’s weather can be somewhat unpredictable. But, keeping an eye on the sporadic rainfall and temperature, I decided to go for the hike.
From Sedona take Dry Creek Road and make a right onto Long Canyon Trail Road. The parking for the trailhead will be on the left about 1 mile (.25km). There are ample parking spaces, but my advice is to arrive early to avoid having to parallel park in some spots.
This lower part of the trail is a favorite for mountain biker enthusiasts. Although the bikers start off on Long Canyon Trail, they quickly detour off to Mescal Trail and Deadman Pass about 10 minutes into the trek.
Long Canyon Trail is spectacular! The path itself starts out as a soft red well-traveled trail then becomes hard packed and smooth the further you ascend into the wilderness. Along the trek, I came across a trail runner, but wasn’t surprised since this makes for an excellent location for quick pace joggers.
Long Canyon Trail has a very gradual ascent and not strenuous for most of the way. So it is perfect for the elderly and young children alike for shorter treks. However, the final mile becomes much steeper and the footing is loose. Even if you decide not to trek the entire distance, there are numerous and amazing views all along the way.
I rated this climb higher than Bear Mountain and Loy Canyon Trail for these reasons: Along the hike within Long Canyon Trail, every turn of the path exhibited outstanding and sometimes breathtaking views. I photographed well over 100 images, slowing my trekking pace down, but well worth the delay.
The colors of red and deep green with thickly forested pines accented the majestic golden cliffs on both sides of the path. Note: While I was descending back down the canyon, I heard another trekker coming up the trail gasp in an excited voice, “Wow!” The absolute beauty of what was before him and his hiking partner overwhelmed him. I experienced the same emotions along the way. Bear Mountain has awesome views, but not as many heart pounding surprises. Loy Canyon Trail is wonderful, but most of the spectacular views are nearing the summit. Keep in mind, the further you trek into Long Canyon Trail, the closer and more awesome the surroundings and marvelous cliffs become.
With every turn of the trail, new experiences popup before you. Also, there were several opportunities along the way to veer off onto less traveled side paths to explore the red rock formations.
As the trail winds gradually deeper into the forest, it crosses a dry wash ravine several times. At these junctures, I had several photographic opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty of colorful foliage.
The large red and yellow leaves were popping off the dark gray trunks of the trees. The colorful fallen leaves gently covered the path inviting you to venture further into the canyon.
Reaching the final summit of Long Canyon Trail was a bit steep, scrambling on loose footing, and a little confusing. But it was also a bit explorer-like challenging. According to my Suunto Ambit 2 GPS watch, I had already traveled beyond the 3.8 mile (6.2 km) trek and was well above the altitude stated by various trail maps and other bloggers. It appeared that the trail continued deeper up the ravine but began to become much more narrow and steep.
There may have been a route to the approximately 6,500 ft (1981 meters) summit, but I chose to scramble across the bramble to what appeared to be a red rock dwelling and made my final climb to the flat smooth top of it where a magnificent 360 degree panoramic view was awe inspiring. I remained there for an hour, having lunch, while taking in the grandiose view. The cliffs surrounding my position appeared to ascend upward another 900 feet (274 meters).
At first, I intended on just heading back down the trail at a swift pace and call it a day. However, in Long Canyon Trail, there are so many opportunities to go off-trail and experience sights very few trekkers will ever see. The red rock cliffs were inspiring me to explore deeper within its dense forest and narrow trails to find wonderfully new vantage points of nature.
One red rock path led me to another one, which led me to new spectacular views within the canyon. This extra sidetrack was the pinnacle of the trek. While standing atop the second plateau with incredible scenery around me, a touring helicopter out of nowhere soared a few hundred feet above my location to allow the tourist to snap photos of the picturesque area below.
The copter paused for 30 seconds, then wisked away down the canyon. I waved in a friendly manner, but not sure if anyone spotted me. The experience put into perspective two ways of enjoying nature: One, from the expansive vantage points from above, and two, the sights sounds, and scents from being physically within the colorful Arizona backcountry desert itself.
During the entire four-hour trek, I ran into about 15 people. Keep in mind, the final mile I spotted a group of four mountain bikers zipping along the lower part of the trail. So I can assume Long Canyon Trail’s population of trekkers will increase dramatically once spring rolls around. Everyone I came across was very friendly and willing to stop for a minute to converse on how enjoyable their experience was on Long Canyon Trail.
View all images of the trail: http://www.davidpinter.com/arizonatrekker/treks/longcanyontrail/
View Complete Trekking Data: http://www.movescount.com/moves/move45480924
View GPS Map and photo locations: http://www.davidpinter.com/arizonatrekker/treks/longcanyontrailgps/
From Sedona on Route 89A, go west on Dry Creek Road. At first “T” turn right onto Long Canyon Road. Go 1 mile and trailhead will be on the left.