Secret Canyon Trail, Sedona, Arizona
Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars
Recommended supplies and information:
▪ Bring at least 100 ounces (3 liters) of water
▪ Small First Aid Kit
▪ High Clearance 4X4 Vehicle to Access Trailhead
Approximate Trekking information:
Distance One Way: 3-8 miles (4.8-13 km)
Total Hiking Time: 3-8 hours
Elevation at base 4,685 ft to 4,850 ft to Middle of Canyon: 165 ft ascension climb
Elevation at base Metrics: 1,428 meters to 1,478 meters: 50 meters ascension climb
Temperature for November 28, 2014: 72.5F to 86.2F / 22.5C to 30.1C
A Secret Worth Keeping
Secret Canyon Trail is a well-kept secret far within the depths of the Sedona Red Rock Wilderness. Secret Canyon Trail is a quiet trail void of people and is immersed within a variety of desert and riparian environments. This trail intersects a few other trails in the region and basically cuts through miles of the north central portion of the Red Rock Wilderness.
*Since I was pressed for time, and only trekked 2 miles into the canyon, I am going to write a follow-up blog later on when I complete the entire trail.
Getting to the Trail
Very few trekkers ever get the opportunity to hike into Secret Canyon Trail mainly on account of where the trailhead is located. There are three ways to approach access to the main trailhead; One, by driving down Vultee Arch Road in a 4X4 high clearance vehicle (or ATV), Two; Riding a mountain bike then locking it at the trailhead, or Three; by trekking 3.6 miles (5.8 km) from Devil’s Bridge Trailhead on Long Canyon Road. If you don’t have a helicopter on hand then walking from Dry Creek Road is another option. Check it out on a map and see the best method for you. Either way, getting to Secret Canyon Trail is half the battle. I chose to park my low clearance vehicle on Long Canyon Road and hike along Chuckwagon Trail (primarily a mountain biker trail), then make my way to Vultee Arch Road straight to the trailhead. It took me about 2 hours of nature hiking to reach my starting destination.
Beginning the trek on Secret Canyon Trail, the first thing I noticed was lack of people, lack of any vehicles in the 10-car parking lot, and the lack of any sound other than that by nature itself. The trailhead had Map Board Information mounted describing other trails that would eventually intersect. Other than that, entering the trail was as peaceful and serene as it can possibly get.
The trail was mixed with hard packed red dirt, loose sandy portions, and some short stretches of rubble footing. The path was narrow and was thickly vegetated on both sides with remarkable colors of green and red. Sunrays were pushing through the densely shaded areas and the trail would cross an occasional dry stream bed. There was one area nearing the beginning of the hike that stagnant water was available. I noticed there were multiple animal tracks near a muddy section of the water ranging in sizes from small bird prints to large hoofed animals.
Trekking a little further down the trail, I happened across H.S. Canyon Trail, another infrequently hiked location.
Quietly trekking along, I startled a javelina resting in the shade under a low-lying mesquite tree. The javelina was about 10 feet (3 meters) away then began slowly walking in the opposite direction.
Gradually winding and twisting my way up the low incline trail, wonderful panoramic views began to immerge. Red and yellow rock cliffs were all around with some tree-lined views going on for miles. On a few occasions I came across remnants of small campsites equipped with rock fire pits. Eventually, after hiking about 2 hours, I managed to find myself in the middle of the first canyon.
Looking on a map, Secret Canyon Trail follows along a series of three or four different size canyons creating a zigzag pattern. I only managed to complete the first canyon before I decided to head back to the main trailhead. After all, once I reached the main trailhead, I still had another 3.6 miles to make it back to the parking lot.
Secret Canyon Trail is a gem of a trail that few people will visit because of its difficulty of accessing. If you are looking for a tranquil and beautiful day hike, then this is the trail for you. The natural beauty and serenity make it one of my favorites in Sedona. A trekker can virtually hike miles and never see another hiker along the way. I hiked in only about two miles and on my way out I ran into only one other solo trekker. I plan on hiking into this trail about 8 miles (12.8 km) in the near future. I will consider renting a 4X4 Vehicle or ATV in Sedona. But more than likely I will ride my mountain bike down Vultee Arch Road and lock it to a tree near the starting point of the trailhead. Once completing the trek I will update this blog.
View all images of the trail:
View GPS Map and photo locations:
From Sedona on Route 89A, go west on Dry Creek Road for 2 miles (3.2 km). Take right on Dry Creek Road which turns into Vultee Arch Road (4X4 Vehicle only). Trailhead is 3.4 miles (5.4 km) on the left.
Map to Secret Canyon Trail, Sedona, Arizona