|Oak Creek Trail / Canyon Junction |
|Trail to Oak Creek Canyon (Right)|
A solid three hikers came out for a hike/scramble the Saturday after Thanksgiving to park at the scenic loop exit parking lot. (No way were we going to go inside the loop today!) When we arrived, there were very few cars and no one around. We hiked out the trail (2nd from SR 159) to the Middle Oak Creek Trail (an old abandoned road) and turned to the right. Note the white rock at this junction, the White Rock Junction. The road leads straight up to the escarpment in the distance, but about half way up, rocks cover the road and it is difficult hiking. Regardless, we continued and passed where the trail comes in from the Oak Creek Trailhead and ended up at the "red dirt." There are a lot of side trails along this section. We stayed true to the escarpment.
We hiked through the red dirt staying on the trail that heads into the canyon on its right embankment. Used mostly by the rock climbers, this trail will eventually take you into the wash of Oak Creek Canyon but you will need to take a jaunt up toward the wall a couple of times. We dropped into the canyon filled with very large cream colored sandstone boulders and began a challenging scramble up. Almost immediately, there is a short up and around on the right side. We scampered up several large scrambles and stopped at the dry pool on top of one of the boulders. All three of us could not negotiate the following climb and we leave no one behind!
|Shade Tree on Trail Up|
|Starting up the Canyon Wash|
|Big Scramble after Big Scramble|
|This scramble is too big for Kay!|
We sat for a break with Mt. Wilson's ascent via Cleaver Crack in view way above. It was a beautiful day. The weather was quite warm on the return to the cars, however, inside the canyon it was like a refrigerator! We waited for Ralyn to try to find a route up through the brush but the brush and rock were amazingly thick. After a rest, we began our return down canyon. Of course, the scrambles were a lot easier going down and we stopped for our group photo on a sandstone ramp. When we passed the spot where we had originally dropped into the wash, we continued down toward a bright red wall above the wash. The boulders in this section were very colorful. (See third photo.) Finally, we dropped down a dry fall as seen in the first photo. This is a popular turnaround place for the Oak Creek Canyon hike without the canyon scramble. We watched the rock climbers for a minute. They were climbing up the walls on the north side of the canyon. Then, we turned to the right and found the trail that led out of the wash. This trail winds right and left a bit but, basically, it heads straight for Potato Knoll. Again, this is where the trails become somewhat of a spider's web of directions. I prefer to turn to the left at one point and follow the trail toward the left side of the knoll.
Stats: 6 miles; 650' gain; 3.75 hours