Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club
Parsons Trail Day Hike
when Trip Report : March 8, 2022
  Trip Report : October 11, 2014
  Trip Report : November 12, 2011
  Trip Report : May 5, 2001
  Trip Report : October 16, 1999
where Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area, north of Cottonwood/Clarkdale
the hike     The hike up the Parsons Trail is a pleasant stroll along a cool, clear desert stream set in a magnificent red rock canyon. The trail leads through the lower reaches of this the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness through a lush riparian habitat covered by Arizona Sycamores, Fremont cottonwoods, Arizona walnut and Arizona ash trees.
    At points along the trail, we will pass several opening where springs flow from the canyon walls during the wet season. The colorful cliffs which rise on both sides of the canyon, are a unique mix of dark columnar basalt, red sandstone, and buff-colored limestone on each side of the trail which rise higher and become steeper, as we hike deeper into the canyon.
    The creek flows year-round at this point in the canyon.
    The trail crosses Sycamore Creek several times. Most are easy crossings, with log bridges or boulder-hopping. The water rarely reaches above your boot top, but bring hiking poles to provide stability.
    The steepest part of the trail is the descent from the trailhead for about 200 feet then the trail remains fairly level as it runs parallel to Sycamore Creek. About ¼ mile down the trail is the first pool where we will take the group photo around an arched tree. Continuing down the trail we will find large patches of grapes growing in the shade of large cottonwoods and sycamores. On the right, we pass a rock column jutting up like a chimney.
    A mile into the hike, we will come to our second photo op. A large rock about 12' high appears to have dropped out of the sky. The concave side provides a nice backdrop for another group photo.
    Proceeding farther down the trail, we pass another pool and enter a deep shady area where the trail is lined with wild berries. Huge rock falls are visible higher up on the sides of the canyons. Traversing through this enchanted forest, we come to the first crossing where a group of logs have been lashed together to form a bridge.
    The creek goes underground for a short stretch and emerges at a 2nd pool and our 3rd photo op. We will stop for a while as we explore the area. Just past the pool we come to the 2nd crossing where more logs lay across the creek.
    Just past a 3rd pool we come to a narrow rock ledge. Crossing the ledge, we enter another glade at the mouth of a cave. There is a large century plant blossoming just off the trail.
    At the 3 mile point we reach a broad rock shelf overlooking a large pool. This will be our turnaround point. We will stop lunch before returning along the same route.
•  At least 3 liters of water
•  Head covering
•  Sunglasses
•  Sunblock
•  Hiking poles
•  Snacks
•  Camera
distance 6 miles round trip
time 4-5 hours
EC +-600' elevation change
elevations 3598' (Sycamore Creek) to 3830' (across from Packard Mesa)
starting at
Parsons Spring Trailhead 34° 51.837' N,  112° 4.168' W  [NAD27]
on trail 100% — Parsons Trail #144. See Map.
rating "C-"     Rate yourself as a hiker.
dogs? no
cost Sharing gas expenses with the driver.
The club also allows voluntary contributions of $5 per non-member.
weather Clarkdale
meet 8:00 AM at the trailhead.
Car poolers meet at 6:00 AM in the Fry’s parking lot on the SW corner of I-17 & Bell Road. Park behind Denny’s, near the entrance to the Deer Valley Park & Ride.
•  Drive north on I-17 toward Flagstaff.
Take the Camp Verde Exit (#287) and head northwest on AZ260 for about 12 miles to Cottonwood.
From Cottonwood, take 89A northwest for about four miles toward Clarkdale to the Tuzigoot National Monument turnoff on your right.
Turn right onto Tuzigoot Road and follow it over the Verde River Bridge.
Take the first left past the bridge (Sycamore Canyon Road) and continue driving along the east bank of the Verde River for 4 1/2 miles.
At a gate crossing the road becomes Forest Road 131 (dirt road). The road is passable by passenger cars.
Follow FR 131 for another 6.5 miles to the Parsons Spring Trailhead.

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updated March 14, 2022 © Copyright 2022, Arizona Trailblazers.  All rights reserved.