Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club
West Fork Backpacking Trip
June 27-29, 2020
•  The backpack:
    Almost all of the trail that we will be hiking follows the West Fork of Oak Creek through lush vegetation and thick forests of pine, fir, oak, sycamore, and red tooth maple. So if it gets a bit warm on the trail, we can always cool off in the creek. Towering above the trail, we will see the massive red rock cliffs and colorful canyon walls of the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness.
    The West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon is actually about 14 miles long. We will be backpacking the complete length. There are some deep pools that in most years require you to swim. As we follow the gurgling waters of West Fork Creek and penetrate deeper into the canyon, the trail gradually descends and becomes a little rougher and narrower. We will begin to see massive rock shelves overhanging the creek bed, creating a tunnel-like effect in some places. Along the way, the trail crosses the creek numerous times. We will continue on and have to wade or swim some pools. Expect to get at least waist deep in water with your backpack. On the swims, we will use our air mattress to help float our packs across.
    Close to the 3.5-mile mark from the end the canyon opens up and we are on a well-marked path, that will get us to the parking lot. We will stop here to change our socks to dry ones and call our rides if we have cell coverage.
    About a quarter mile from the end, we will walk around the ruins of the old Mayhew Lodge, destroyed by fire in 1980. Zane Grey used this location for the setting of his novel The Call of the Canyon. If we could not get cell coverage before we will retry here.
Day 1, June 27
Drive to Flagstaff.
Eat lunch, after lunch drive dirt road to the top of the West Fork Trail.
Set up a camp for us to stay overnight
Day 2, June 28
Backpackers pack up their stuff and head down the canyon.
About 7 miles down the canyon the backpackers set up their camp (about 5 PM).
Drivers complete their packing or stay in camp.
Day 3, June 29
Backpackers pack up their stuff and head down the canyon.
Drivers complete their packing and move closer to Flagstaff.
We will see if we can find a holding area for the drivers about an hour from Call of the Wild.
Backpackers call drivers. This may be late. Backpackers may exit after dark.
For all backpackers:
•  You must be able to swim.
•  Jacket that can get wet.
•  Ziplock bagged items that do not like water (Car keys, Cell phones, etc.).
•  Extra dry clothes in car. Assume that you will swim and need a complete change.
•  Hiking poles. The creek rocks are very slippery.
•  Headlamp.
•  Backpack gear,
•  Prefer that you not bring a tent. Backpack “cowboy style”.
distance: 14 miles
time: 3 days
elevation change: -500'
type: one way
ending at: West Fork Trailhead, 34° 59.440' N, 111° 44.489' W [NAD27]
on trail: 20%—West Fork Trail #108
rating: "A"   Rate yourself as a hiker.
dogs allowed: no
cost: $10 per vehicle at Call of the Canyon day-use area, plus sharing gas expenses with the driver, plus the backpackers pay all the driver’s expenses. The club also allows voluntary contributions of $5/non-member.
Weather conditions: Sedona.
leader:   You must e-mail leader to confirm. Everyone will be on the wait list, depending on how many drivers we get.
Everyone gets in their car pools from their homes. Meet in Flagstaff about noon.
•  On Interstate 17, go north to Flagstaff.
Everyone will get directions from there.

updated December 20, 2019