Schnebly Hill Trail

May 19th, 2011

Schnebly Hill Trail - Sedona, AZ

The Cow Pie Vortex

This is a great trail with spectacular views of Red Rock Country and downtown Sedona, Arizona. Horses, mountain bikes, and dogs are allowed on this trail.

Schnebly Hill Trail - Sedona, AZ

The trail up on the mesa

If you start at the trail head, you will need a Red Rock Pass to park there. I also suggest starting early in the morning. That way, the Mogollon rim will shield you from the sun as you walk the first 1.25 miles from the trail head. The rim provided shade until 10am or 11am on the day we were there.

If you take the trail head near the overlook on Schnebly Hill Road, it is 3.1 miles one-way. We didn’t. We traveled cross country from our campsite on top of the plateau. So instead of climbing up to the top of the plateau via the trail, we walked along the rim above the trail and got on the trail at the 1.25 mile mark. This is where the trail enters shade. There is also a rock retaining wall there. It was built to keep the old wagon trail, that the trail is based on, intact and level.

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West Clear Creek Trail

April 24th, 2011

westclear_tr

This trail is supposed to be 7.5 miles long and according to the forest service, it should take about 4.5 hours to complete. That’s like 1.6 miles an hour. They rate it as Easy/Strenuous. In reality, The hike is easy/moderate if you are traveling in one direction. I you are traveling in the other, the trail becomes difficult at around the 5 mile mark when you start the 1800′ elevation trek up Bald Hill (understatement!).

Our experience was a bit different. After about 3.75 hours of hiking and four stream crossings, we had gone about 4.5 miles. That’s around 1.2 miles an hour. Not too bad considering the elevation changes and the scenery that constantly beckons you to stop and try to take it all in.

The trail is very diverse. We started out at Bull Pen Dispersed Camping area (car camping). The first part of the trail was a flat and sandy white sycamore forest situated along the creek. There are hike in dispersed campsites all along the trail. If you stay on the main trail, which can be hard to do with all the the offshoots to campsites, it will eventually open up to a flat, grassy/shrubby valley where you will walk past the old bull pen ranch house.

West Clear Creek Trailhead - Camp Verde, AZ
West Clear Creek Trail - Camp Verde, AZ
West Clear Creek Trail - Camp Verde, AZ
West Clear Creek Trail - Camp Verde, AZ

West Clear Creek Trail - Camp Verde, AZ

The trail makes it way back down to the river. When it does, it takes you to a very special place. I couldn’t capture the beauty of this part of the trail on my camera phone. The pictures don’t do it justice. There are crystal clear swimming holes with red rock sunning areas. Here, the red rock canyon walls are decorated with yellow columbine, prickly pear, scarlet monkey flower, and other plants that create a hanging garden and gives the area a tropical feel. Soon, you will find yourself wondering if you will be able to edge along the canyon wall. That’s when you will spot your first rock cairn which signifies the first creek crossing. Watch for those cairns. Otherwise, it can be easy to get turned around at creek crossings. They are rocky and you cannot see the trail as well. The trail crosses the creek again shortly after the first crossing. Continue Reading »

Natchez Trace Parkway

February 10th, 2009

old_natchez_trace

Leaving Tennessee, we hopped on the Natchez Trace Parkway a bit south of Nashville and took it to the end in Natchez, Mississippi. Now, it wasn’t leaf peeper or flower sniffer season, but it was still a beautiful drive. The entire parkway is around four hundred and fifty miles long, two lane blacktop through the countryside. It closely follows the original Natchez Trace, which was a footpath through the forest used by Indians and traders up until the late nineteenth century. The speed limit is fifty miles an hour and only non-commercial use is allowed. In short, you couldn’t hope for a more leisurely drive. I was surprised how light traffic was. We often went fifteen minutes or more without seeing another vehicle.

If you get tired of driving, the park system has you covered. There is some kind of pull off every few miles. These range from historic areas and exhibits to nature areas and hiking trails. In addition, there are three free, primitive campgrounds on the parkway, spaced roughly every hundred and fifty miles. You may also overnight at the visitor center in Natchez. We’ve heard that these campgrounds fill up quickly during the snowbird migration, but in mid-January, the campgrounds were pretty empty.

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