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Hangover/Munds Wagon Trail
October 28, 2017
by David French
  GPS Map 
Dan, Michael, Ann, Lin, Renee, Scott, Monika, Janet, Michelle, Mark, Chris, Ken, Debbie, Darrell, Carol, Tom, Li, Billie, Roy, Dave

Due to the complexity and difficulty of this trail, I limited the number of hikers to 20. I have been on too many hikes with more hikers than that. It gets real crazy and the group gets so scattered out. With many drops and adds in the last couple of days before the hike, we ended up with 20 and everyone showed up right on time. Thirteen of us met at Bell and I-17 before 7 AM. One carpool (with permission) drove straight to the trailhead rather than go to Bell/I-17, and three other people that live further north met us at the trailhead. We all arrived at the Huckaby Trailhead on Schnebly Hill Road between 8:45 and 9:00.

We took the group photo and headed east on the Munds Wagon Trail. I was told that Mr. Munds had a ranch in what is now Munds Park east of I-17. He drove his cattle down to Sedona for the winter along a route that was somewhat close to Schnebly Hill Road. Courtesy of Tom, the following link provides a lot more information. The Landscape of Sedona AZ.

This must be the trail we’re supposed to take. [photo by Tom]
Away we go. [photo by Lin]
Crossing the road. [photo by Tom]
Our first pause. [photo by Lin]
Marching along Munds Wagon. [photo by Tom]

After a couple hundred feet, the trail seems to split without any marking. I had pre-hiked this route and chose to go right, which led to the road. After a short walk up the road, I found the trail crossed the road and I was able to pick it up again. I vowed to not make this mistake on the club hike, but did anyway. Oh well, next time I will know for sure.

The trail generally parallels the road and a dry creek on the north side of the road. The trail crosses the road at least twice before we reach the junction with the Hangover Trail. Since the Munds Wagon Trail follows a dry creek, it is often lined with trees that offer nice shade. There are a couple of picnic tables along the way for those that want to take a break. It is about 1.7 miles from the trailhead to the Hangover Trail junction.

This is a junction not to be missed! [photo by Dave]
Heading up to the west saddle. [photo by Dave]
Traversing the first bench. [photo by Lin]
Makes us look so small. [photo by Tom]
Just having fun. [photo by Carol]
Starting the climb. [photo by Lin]
Now it gets tougher. [photo by Tom]

The Hangover Trail begins an immediate climb up to Midgely Ridge. We reached the saddle between the ridge and another major outcropping to the west that has the “Elephant Trunk” arch on top. I do not know if that is the official name, but it should be. This saddle provided us with our first really spectacular views looking northward. We could see the Midgely Bridge that carries US 89A over Oak Creek, Mount Wilson, and any number of other Sedona features. This is also where the trail becomes mostly on solid red rock, so we have to follow the white dots. We gathered here and counted noses before we continued.

Midgely Bridge. [photo by Dave]
View from the west saddle. [photo by Dave]
US 89A in Oak Creek Canyon. [photo by Tom]
Wilson Mountain. [photo by Dave]
Elephant Arch. [photo by Tom]
Rock climbers. [photo by Lin]
Mark and Michelle. [photo by Carol]
It’s a long way down. [photo by Lin]

Heading eastward, we started the climb up to the base of the cliffs on Midgely Ridge. This is the trickiest part of the hike. The solid red sandstone is steep and offers minimal hand and foot holds to help us scramble up. When we reached the bench before the next level, we encountered some hard core mountain bikers ready to ride down that steep solid rock “trail’. They waited until we all had reached the bench and then we stood in awe as we watch them glide down that rock slope. They must be crazy.

We traversed the bench and then followed the dots up to the next level, scrambling hand over foot to do it. Once we reached the next level near the base of the cliff, the trail became more normal. As we followed it around the west end of the cliff to the north side, we were in the shade for the next half hour or so. This part of the trail along the north side of the cliffs of Midgely Ridge is where Hangover Trail gets its name. The trail is maybe two feet wide with a sheer cliff on our right (south) and a sheer drop off to our left (north). Occasionally, The cliff on the right would overhang the trail.

Having fun. [photo by Tom]
The hangover. [photo by Lin]
A beautiful spot. [photo by Ann]
Butte at east saddle. [photo by Dave]
Rumps on a rock. [photo by Ann]
Taking in the views from the east saddle. [photo by Lin]

A bike rider not watching would have a huge hangover if he did not keep his head down. Why anyone would ride a bike on that trail is beyond me. But it is a great place to hike (if you are not terrified of walking along the edge of a cliff). We did meet a few more mountain bikers and they were very courteous and stopped while we passed. There is no way for a hiker and biker to meet and both stay in motion.

We soon reached the saddle at the east end of Midgely Ridge. We found a neat area just below the actual saddle to sit mostly in the shade with a tremendous view to the north. We ate our snacks and moved on to reach the actual top of saddle and our first good views to the south. Following the white dots, they led us on a switchback route down the red rock face of that saddle. We came to a trail sign that marks the east end of the Hangover Trail. The sign clearly warns mountain bikers that the trail is a double black diamond and should only be attempted by very experienced bikers.

At this point we had hiked about 5 miles and were now on the Cow Pies Trail. Again we follow the white dots, because near the bottom of the solid red rocks the trail makes a sharp turn to the left (east) to enter the forest area along the dry creek. This trail is a half mile long and ends at the road with the Cow Pies trailhead and parking area on the south side of the road. We gathered there, counted noses and found the Munds Wagon Trail exiting the middle of the parking area to the south. It quickly curved to head more westerly, paralleling the road on the south side. Again the trail crossed the road. There is a trail marker on the other side of the road but you have to look for it. The trail continues gently downhill crisscrossing the dry creek. We reached the junction with the Hangover Trail and again reconvened and counted noses. Then the trailblazers did as they always do on the last leg, went as fast as they could back to the Huckaby Trailhead. Everyone arrived safely and not too far apart.

Yes, we have to get down from here. [photo by Lin]
... and here we go. [photo by Ann]
East end of the Hangover Trail. [photo by Dave]
Close up of the map. [photo by Tom]

Twelve of us went to Javalina Cantina on SR 179 just south of Schnebly Hill Road. The restaurant is on the east side of the road up on a bench and hard to see from the road. I had called ahead, so they had a table set up for us and served us promptly. They handle a large crowd very well. They do have outdoor seating, but not for a large group.

Javalina Cantina. [photo by Tom]

All in all it was a very successful hike. I had asked everyone to try to stay together as much a possible and they complied very well. Thank you, Trailblazers, you made my job easy.

8.5 miles, 4:55 hours, 1400 foot elevation gain, low and high elevations 4441-5209 feet

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updated October 31, 2017