We had been in Sedona for Veterans Day weekend, but we saved our hike for Flagstaff because miles taste best when eaten on the Arizona Trail. On the scenic drive up highway 89A gusts of wind prompted a rainfall of fall colors as leaves of the trees lining Oak Creek hit our windshield. We arrived at the Sandy’s Canyon trail head and were hiking by 10:45am.
It was a brisk 33 degrees out, and the gusty winds only made it colder. Everyone doubled up on their jackets, and the kids brought along their blankets!
We would hike 3.1 miles to get to Fisher Point, our turn-around spot. We first descended into Sandy Canyon amid tall ponderosa pines and soon passed through a small section of young birch trees that had already dropped their leaves. It was at that point Maddie wanted to be carried. Good thing because Heather and I wanted a faster pace so we could warm up!
The trail led us into the base of the canyon where it leveled out. Two women and a dog passed us, heading in the same direction. Morgan called out “dog-dog” when he saw them! Moments later, we completed our first mile and reached the junction to the AZT.
The next three quarters of a mile we continued down a double track as we followed the level trail through the canyon bottom. Morgan didn’t like his hoodie, but he found his blanket cozy and useful to block the wind!
We approached Lake Mary Valley and could see a beautiful rock face. This was Fisher Point and the opening into Walnut Canyon. By now the kids had fallen asleep, and the group ahead of us was enjoying the cave. So we marched on and started the 1.2-mile climb to the vista point located on the peak above and behind the rock face. We would hit the cave on the way back.
We hustled to the top, and by hustle I mean we went as fast as we could while each carrying a kid on our backs up a steep trail in high elevation! There was a 200 degree view when we got to the vista, and we could see the beautiful red and gray rock walls that lined Walnut Canyon. Unfortunately the shadows prevented getting any good photos.
The wind and chill kept us from hanging out too long, so we retraced our steps on the trail. Going down was much easier, and in the breaks between the large trees we caught glimpses of Flagstaff and the San Francisco Peaks.
On the way down, the women with the dog were heading up, and we found no one else at the cave when we arrived back at the valley.
The cave was pretty small and only several yards deep, but the icicles in the back were a cool discovery. Sitting in the sun we enjoyed a few snacks, and then we headed out.
By 2:30 we were back at the van enjoying a late picnic lunch. The kids sat in their car seats with the heat on, and Heather and I sat in the sun on our tail gate as we all enjoyed our sandwiches…not to mention a few pieces of Halloween candy!
Next up…we’re doing a 47-mile trip through Reavis Canyon and the Superstition Mountains. It will be our second backpacking trip and our first 2-nighter!
Date: November 11, 2018
AZT miles logged: 2