Chuck Wagon and Devil’s Bridge

Warning: you might get wet. Especially if you hike this trail in early spring. This part of Arizona received a lot of snow and rain when we were there and the creeks were surging. When we first attempted the Chuck Wagon loop earlier in March, Dry Creek was running high and the currents were strong. We turned back knowing that the waters would likely recede later in the month.

They did. However, we still got wet. By choice and by accident.

Our hike was a touch over 5 hours and we covered 7 miles. The Chuck Wagon trail was relatively even for the most part. There is an ascent up Devil’s Bridge. I would consider that ascent to be of moderate difficulty. You will be scrambling to get to the top but it is a relatively short climb at the end of the Devil’s Bridge trail with a couple of tricky vertical rises.

Here is a video overview of the hike on the GaiaGPS app:

And here is a video of the hike which includes Lorraine’s fall into Dry Creek.

Yes, she did fall. We’ll cover that in a moment.

The trails were very busy. We usually had no issues finding a spot to park at the Mescal trailhead but not this day. We had to keep driving, past the Long Canyon trailhead, to find a spot for our car on the side of the road. We cut into the Long Canyon Trail which connected to the Chuck Wagon Trail.

For most of the hike on the Chuck Wagon Trail, we were on our own. Despite the high volume of cars in the parking areas and on the side of the road, we could enjoy this part of the hike without any crowds.

Keep in mind, however, that we took the path less travelled. There are two ways to access Chuck Wagon. One is from the Long Canyon trailhead where Chuck Wagon bears to the left and the other is from the Mescal trailhead where Chuck Wagon bears to the right. The crowds use the Mescal trailhead to access Chuck Wagon for the express purpose of gaining access to Devil’s Bridge. The crowds won’t do the long run of Chuck Wagon. Too much work I suspect.

This was the warmest day that we had experienced in Sedona. The weather for March was much cooler and wetter than normal. Most days the temperatures hovered around 55 Fahrenheit. This was fine for us Canadians. It seemed quite mild and pleasant especially when doing the long hikes.

The temperatures on the trail were closer to the norm at roughly 70 Fahrenheit.

Not too hot. Not too cold.

We had hiked this part of Chuck Wagon once before. It is an easy trail which offers some amazing views of the Dry Creek canyon.

Most of the creeks had little water although Dry Creek was still running at a fairly good clip. Not anywhere near as high as a few weeks back but still pushing a fair amount of water.

We could see and hear the rushing water from the trail and we knew that we would have to deal with it fairly soon.

Wonderful views as we began the descent to the first crossing of Dry Creek.

The creek doesn’t look all that menacing here. And it wasn’t. It was only ankle high now. A few weeks back, the level was much higher and the current was much stronger. We used some bags to cover our shoes and we made this first crossing without too much of an issue. My left shoe did get a bit wet. For Lorraine, both shoes got wet. The bags didn’t really work as well as we had hoped but at least we didn’t have to worry about our feet getting cut by a sharp rock as we made the crossing.

After crossing the first leg of Dry Creek, you will quickly come across the second leg of Dry Creek. This is a much easier creek to cross. At least it was for me.

This is a screen grab from when I was filming Lorraine’s creek crossing. She lost her footing and she went down pretty hard into the creek.

A few minor injuries. No broken bones although a lingering knee injury which may have resulted from this fall or from the Devil’s Bridge descent that happened later in the hike.

I carry a first aid kit in my backpack and that came in handy to treat Lorraine’s injuries. You never know when you might need a first aid kit when hiking.

We took a bit of time to recover from the shock of a fall. At our age, falls can be a bit more serious as our bones are not quite as strong as they were when we were younger. Fortunately Lorraine’s spirit cannot be broken. She soldiered on despite some pain from her injuries.

Wonderful to spend a few hours on this part of the hike. Just the two of us and we really enjoyed being in the canyon and taking in the views.

Although we knew it would be a different hiking experience, we decided to divert to the Devil’s Bridge out and back loop. And, as expected, it was like a Walt Disney World line. So many people!

We met hundreds of people as we made our way up the Devil’s Bridge trail. At the top of the trail they queue up to wait their turn for a picture on the arch. Waiting time can easily exceed a few hours.

We did not wait.

Where Devil’s Bridge reconnects with Chuck Wagon, the trail becomes very crowded. People returning from Devil’s Bridge either take the dirt road back to the main Devil’s Bridge trailhead or they follow the short segment of Chuck Wagon to the Mescal trailhead. Not my preference to be stuck in queues when hiking the Sedona trails but at least we can say that we experienced Devil’s Bridge.

There is one more crossing of Dry Creek to get to the Mescal trailhead. The water levels were very low here and the crossing was easy as the underlying rocks are smooth. I took my shoes and socks off. Lorraine just crossed with her shoes on.

A final look back towards Devil’s Bridge and we made our way back to our car.

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