Another day, another hike. There is little question that if you come to Sedona, you will hike. It has become somewhat addictive for us because of the beauty of the trails and the joy of being outdoors in nice weather.
We decided to hike Long Canyon in part because it is described as one of the least crowded trails in Sedona. We are here during March break and we are definitely seeing the crowds on the roads and in the shopping areas. From what I understand all of the hotels in the area are fully booked.
Early in our stay here we shifted our hikes from the morning to mid-afternoon. If we get to the trailheads in the afternoon there is usually no issue in finding a parking spot. In the morning the trails are very crowded.
This hike was 4.4 miles in length and we spent 2 hours and 42 minutes on the trail. We ascended 542 feet. Long Canyon is an out and back trail but we ran out of time and we had to turnaround with only half a mile or so left to the end of trail sign.
We parked at the Long Canyon trailhead. This was a Sunday afternoon and the first half-mile or so of the trail was packed with people returning to the trailhead. Once we reached the connection between Deadmans Pass and Long Canyon the crowds vanished.
Here is a short video overview of our hike.
The forecast called for mainly sunny skies and mild temperatures. It did not seem that way as we started the hike. The clouds certainly looked ominous.
As we continued along the trail, the clouds began to break apart and we enjoyed the sun and warmth.
The scenery constantly changes when hiking the trails in Sedona. Almost out of nowhere mountains begin to show. We started our hike at roughly 4,500 feet and climbed to about 5,100 feet. The mountains in this area peak around 6,600 feet.
It was here at the connection between Deadmans Pass and Long Canyon that we lost the crowds. We saw at least 50 people on the way out but once we took the turn to continue on Long Canyon, we met only 5 people on that part of the trail.
We did find a lot of debris on this part of the trail. I suspect the heavy snowfall on March 1st downed a lot of trees and branches. The trails in Sedona are generally well maintained and obviously someone had been here to make sure the trail was clear.
The elevation gain going out was quite gentle at first. But once we entered the forest the hiking was a bit more challenging.
If you watched the video overview you would know that this part of Sedona is quite popular with the helicopter tours. They flew over us half a dozen times at varying altitudes. Some, like the one pictured below, were closer to the mountain peaks. Others were only a few hundred feet above our heads.
The forested area of Long Canyon is pretty rocky and we were constantly crossing the river bed as we went along the narrow trail. The trees do block the views of the canyon although every so often we would find a bit of a clearing.
The trees tower high overhead.
And as we hiked across the river beds, we could explore some of the shallow caves.
We had intended to do the full out and back of Long Canyon trail however it was getting late and we still had a half mile or so to get to the end of the trail. We decided to turn back to avoid hiking in the dark. We still had daylight and the few clearings in the forest provided some wonderful views.
The camera creates the impression of more light than what we had as we neared the trailhead. It was definitely the latest that we had been out on the trails. I did not have to pull out our flashlight though and the trail at this point is very well groomed.
We were the last car out of the trailhead parking area. We were only a 7-minute drive from our house in West Sedona. It was night when we pulled into the garage.