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Where to have a Thanksgiving Day Hike

A Good Thanksgiving Day Hike


I have been searching the internet for some ideas of where to go hiking over Thanksgiving, and came across this little gem.Although I have curated down to only half of their pictures, the sampling that remains will give you a good idea of just how beautiful Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon really are, especially this time of year.This family spent a whole week hiking this Sedona desert, and I have left Mr Frey’s narrative of the journey intact.A shorter, four-day version can be carved out to be done just over the Thanksgiving holiday.As a side-note, I hiked in this canyon while in the Army many decades ago. I’m glad to see the Chapel of the Holy Cross still remaining. It had the tallest copper doors at the entrance that I’ve ever seen. Looking out through the windows behind the alter gives a fantastic view of the whole desert floor.

Sedona (Nov 2014)


Welcome to my first “retro” post.  In my quest to document our travels, I wanted to go back and capture trips that occurred when I wasn’t blogging.  For my first attempt, I thought I’d try one of the most recent one in hopes that I would remember that one best.  In addition, I had culled and compressed the photos for Facebook already so that made it easier too.

sedona_AZLast Thanksgiving we spent the entire week in Sedona, Arizona.  Sedona is 1.5 – 2 hrs north of Phoenix; not far from Flagstaff though we spent time in neither.  This was all about enjoying the clear blue skies and red rocks of Sedona.

Not sure the above map does much for those that haven’t been.  This is known as “The Y” and represents “downtown” Sedona.  Our two accommodations (marked with stars) were in West Sedona a few miles out and were convenient enough.

The Village of Oak Creek is slightly to the south and Oak Creek Canyon is slightly to the north along the way to Flagstaff.  Our entire week was spent walking/hiking in the National Forest area.  I was proud of the crew as we logged over 40 miles of hiking for the week.

The kids’ fall breaks did not align so that left us with Thanksgiving.  Nicole had the week off and we yanked Alex out of school early so we could enjoy a full week outdoors.  I had been to Sedona a handful of times on “business” but this was the first time for the family.  It was a great escape from the gray skies and impending winter of Indianapolis.  I’ve told Kuk this is retirement Plan A but I’m not sure she believes me.


Day 1 (Saturday) — Sedona Airport Loop

Though we would make it to the Airport in Sedona for a walk, we didn’t (couldn’t) fly in there as it is pretty much just for private airplanes.  After taking an early morning flight into Phoenix we drove north and worked out way to Sedona.  Our first viewpoint was at the National Forest Ranger Station on the way into town.  Get used to the blue skies and red rocks.

DSCN2086Another great view

The airport is fairly close to the “Y” just west on 89A.  It offers a nice circular walk with views of the area.  Since we only had a 1/2 day, I thought it would be a good warm up walk prior to checking in to our “resort”.

4.7 miles with ~900′ elevation gain over 3 hrs (2:28 moving) — the geek stats are back

nice family shot with a view — good first walk


Day 2 (Sunday) — Broken Arrow / Chicken Point / Submarine Rock

For our first full day out, we decided to hike some of the Broken Arrow Trail out to Submarine Rock, one of the more famous formations (there are plenty out here).  This is also popular with the “Pink Jeep” tours (but we of course hiked it for free 🙂 ).  The starting point is closer to the Village of Oak Creek rather than Sedona, but you can see if proximity to the airport (as a crow flies) from the map.

longer walk today:  7.3 miles, 1363′ elevation, 4:39 elapsed time w/ 3:26 moving (and a nice picnic lunch)

heading out on the trail

DSCN2101a view of the Chapel of Holy Cross from the trail — we opted to see that later in the week rather than take the spur route on this walk

The one downside to visiting this time of year is that it is out of season for most of the flowers.  I did capture this agave plant though.

DSCN2107Chicken Point (I believe)

looking back towards our starting point

a nice family shot with Submarine Rock “surfacing” in the background (to the right of Alex down below)

DSCN2118walking towards me on Submarine Rock

Day 2 (Monday a.m.) — Mescal Trail

I did the bulk of my research by purchasing a map and reading “Great Sedona Hikes” prior to our trip.  I was contemplating doing the Secret Canyon hike but I was concerned by the amount of off-roading required to get to the trailhead.  I decided to send the author, Bill Bohan, a note that morning.  He responded immediately.  In fact, he did one better and invited us to join his hiking club for that very day.  So, we walked the Mescal Trail with his group and had a great time.

The Mescal Trail is the red one marked above (off Long Canyon Road).  The adjoining trail on the other side of the road (in Cyan) is Devil’s Bridge and our afternoon activity.

4.5 miles, 600′ elevation, 3 hrs (2 moving)

a rare flower

along the trail

nice family shot (even I made it into this one)

Alex waiting for us to catch up

another agave, this time up the canyon

and here’s the hiking club crew (or the half that went this route) — fun times!

Day 2 (Monday p.m.) — Devil’s Bridge

After saying goodbye to Bill and the hiking club, we had our picnic by the road before setting off for Devil’s Bridge.  It was nice that the trailhead was right there; no moving of the car required!

4.3 miles, 864′ elevation, 2:39 with 2:12 moving.  Gave us 9 miles for the day which was definitely a work out!

along our way — not sure which rock formations these are though

and here is Devil’s Bridge — pretty scary looking, huh?  The wind was whipping around pretty good.  Kuk didn’t make the final climb for this one and the photographer didn’t see the need to go out there.

DSCN2147and from another angle, though back lit

heading back (I think)

Day 4 (Tuesday) — Soldier’s Pass

This was a nice loop walk that I pieced together by combining sections of the Soldier’s Pass Arches Trail, Brins Mesa Overlook, Cibola Pass and Jordan Trails.  You can see we didn’t exactly follow the planned [magenta] route but we got close.

5.8 miles, 1400′ elevation, 4 hrs w/ 3:09 moving — taking it easy today 🙂

starting off on Soldier’s Pass

and another

Alex ahead of the pack — my how times have changed

Nicole’s solo shot

great views as usual

another rare full family shot — we bumped into a few people but this trail was pretty empty

famous formation that I can’t remember

and another nice view

Day 5 (Wednesday) — Aborted Bear and Successful Doe

The plan for the day was to try to two trails down Boyton Pass Road.  Bear Mountain was going to be our toughest hike with a pretty steep climb (It’s the trail on the left).  As we were going up, Kuk decided she wasn’t comfortable with it due to the big steps required (and heights).  We aborted and walked the shorter Doe Mountain trail across the street instead.  Afterwards we drove on down the road to take in some ancient native sites.

starting off towards Bear Mountain — we got up a ways and then turned around

Doe Mountain:  2.7 miles, a steep 650′, 2:47 (1:37).  As you can tell we walked straight up onto a plateau that we circled and then came back down.

Partially up Doe, looking back at Bear.

on the plateau

happy family

The two archaeological sites were somewhat ho hum.  The drive out wasn’t though.  Kicked up quite a bit of dust.

Day 6 (Thursday) — Boyton Canyon

Happy Thanksgiving!  Fine by me to start a new tradition of hiking a few miles under clear, blue skies.

out and back trail at the top

7 miles, 1000′ elevation, 4:51 (3:51)

DSCN2203I think this is the Boyton Vortex near the beginning of the trail; maybe it’s “just a view”

on/near the “vortex”

Heading into the canyon

easy to find a scenic place to sit

back down the canyon

sitting atop the last scramble at the end

another view on the way back

Day 7 (Friday) — West Fork

We headed up Oak Creek Canyon for our last day hike.  West Fork was quite different than the others as it was a shaded, wooded hike with much less red rock.  It was a nice contrast.

probably lost my GPS signal for a portion of this — 5.8 miles, 3:38 (3:21)

lots of stream crossings and a slight chill in the air at the start

relatively bundled up in the canyon

DSCN2229tall canyons and trees

and one more

Day 8 (Saturday) — Driving By

Time to head home, but before we did we thought we’d drive around and see some of the iconic formations in the area.  I’m afraid I don’t remember all the names though.



we did make it to the Chapel of the Holy Cross

Bell Rock

Courthouse Rock

DSCN2251Cathedral Rock


We had a great and relaxing trip.  We didn’t try to squeeze too much in and enjoyed the outstanding weather.  Sedona is beautiful and I really could see moving out there.  I’ll have to spend some time in the summer to get the full picture though.

Hopefully you enjoyed this “retro” post and I’ll see if I can’t get some of our earlier trips up on the blog as well.

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