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Sandy’s Canyon Day Hike
July 8, 2017
by Jim Buyens
  GPS Map 
Kari, Li, Terri, Mark P, Carol, Mark Y, Michael, Debbie, Ralph, Jim, Michelle,
Dave, Biljana, Heather, and April all made it to the top. [photo by Ralph]

Sandy’s Canyon certainly isn’t a new hike for the Arizona Trailblazers but it’s a great one worth repeating. The turnout was fifteen and we headed out from the Canyon Vista trailhead just after 9:00 AM.

Our first leg was a side trail that the club had tried once before, and all I knew was that it might offer some rock climbing. The trail dipped into the canyon, rose a bit on the other side, and then ended at a cliff face. The rock climbing, it turned out, was the dangling-on-a-rope kind. None of us were prepared for that but we did see some other adventurers doing it. We did see some nice vegetation along the way, though, and it was shady, and we did hike down into that end of the canyon and back, so the exercise wasn’t lost.

Back on the main trail we dropped a few hundred feet to the canyon floor, which is wide and grassy with cliffs and forests along the sides. In the distance we could see the San Francisco peaks to the north. The trail was fairly smooth and level for a couple of miles so we made good time and enjoyed the view.

Debbie explores the back of the cave, which features amazingly modern petroglyphs.
[photo by Dave]
Kari, April, Michelle, Terri, Heather, and Mark begin the hike. [photo by Carol]
Mark Y. hikes down the canyon. [photo by Carol]

Eventually we got to the base of Fischer Point which features a small cave. The cave is fairly open and doesn’t project much into the rock, but when we went in if felt like entering an air-conditioned building. It was a warm day and we took full advantage to cool off.

Michelle joins the group cooling off in the cave below Fischer Point. [photo by Dave]
Heather, both Marks, Debbie, Ralph, Jim, Biljana, April, Terri, and Michael explore the first cave.
[photo by Dave]
Looking out from the first cave. [photo by Carol]
Heading into the back part of the canyon, which is narrower and has more caves. [photo by Carol]
A fellow traveler.
[photo by Dave]
Looking out from the second cave,
where we had a cool lunch. [photo by Carol]
Terri heading out of the canyon for the climb to Fischer Point. [photo by Li]

From there the canyon gets narrower and more riparian, with heavier vegetation and trees. We stopped at two more caves, both as cool as the first, and stopped at the second for lunch.

Next on the agenda was Fisher Point, which requires climbing about 350 feet to reach. The climb is worth it for the spectacular view, though, especially the bird’s-eye view of the trails we’d just been on. It was amazing to look down from above and see hawks hunting. This is where we took the group photo.

Looking down from Fischer Point on the trails we hiked to get there. [photo by Dave]
Jim points out some details to Carol.
[photo by Li]
We didn’t see a lot of flowers but this was a vivid one. [photo by Dave]
Debbie poses for Michael as Jim, April, and Heather look on. [photo by Ralph]

The trip back to the trailhead was just as serene and beautiful as it’d been on the way in. Everyone made it back OK, so at about 2:30 we headed into Flagstaff for a bite to eat.

Terri, Carol, Michele, and Li pause for a rest on the way back. [photo by Li]

My restaurant choice was The McMillan Bar & Kitchen, which is just across Historic Rte. 66 from the train station. Our club member Mary, who lives in Flagstaff, had previously given me a recommendation for this and the on-line ratings were all top notch. And we weren’t disappointed. The place has a bistro-like atmosphere and it’s located in the oldest standing building in Flagstaff! It was built in 1886 with a Wells Fargo bank on the first floor and a hotel on the second. The food and the service were great. This one’s a keeper.

Enjoying a well-earned meal, reliving the adventure, and sharing camaraderie. [photo by Ralph]

On the way back to Phoenix we encountered heavy smoke from Sunset Point to Black Canyon City. We wondered if this could still be from the Goodwin fire south of Prescott, but according to the next day’s news it was just a large brush fire.

This was such a great hike, and everyone enjoyed it so much, that it’s certainly worth doing again. In fact, I might just make it an annual event.

Hike Statistics
Total Distance:10.64miles
Starting Time:9:08AM
Moving Time:4:24hrs:min
Stopped Time:0:31hrs:min
Finishing Time:2:04PM
Avg. Speed Moving:2.4mph
Avg. Speed Overall:2.2mph
Starting Elevation:6,823ft
Minimum Elevation:6,528ft
Maximum Elevation:7,018ft
Total Ascent:1,008ft
Starting Temperature:80°
Finishing Temperature: 85°
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated July 12, 2017