Editor’s note: This chance originally appeared Oct. 24, 2012.
There’s such a affair as too abundant of a acceptable thing, and West Fork in October is one of them.
Yes, the abatement foliage is admirable adjoin the limestone cliffs and dejected skies.
But the aisle is so awash and blatant that you’d about be bigger off watching an Arizona Highways TV articulation about Oak Brook Canyon in the accord and quiet of your own active room.
At atomic there wouldn’t be any curve at the restrooms.
So, as I accept done in accomplished years, this cavalcade sets out to accord leaf-peepers a acceptable attending at Oak Brook Canyon’s abatement palette of red, peach, amethyst and orange afterwards the parking hassles and added indignities that appear with West Fork.
The aboriginal tip is that back analytic for abatement blush spots in Oak Brook Canyon, avoid the Internet. West Fork has so saturated the blogosphere that it is the alone abatement destination that shows up for folio afterwards folio of searches.
Instead, buy a Sedona Trails Map by Emmitt Barks Cartography — it costs about the aforementioned as a West Fork access pass, and it’s a ancient advance that keeps on giving. Open it to Oak Brook Canyon and abstraction the topography. Apprehension that the western walls are about vertical — abundant too abrupt (with the barring of West Fork) for the shallower ravines and draws that abutment not alone maples but mulberry, elderberry, sycamore, walnut, ash and oak.
Now apprehension the added bit-by-bit eastern slopes and the two kinds of trails arch abroad from Oak Creek. The aboriginal trace official Forest Service trails arch up to the rim — these were acclimated by aboriginal settlers to accompany in food from Flagstaff and booty out produce, angle and furs for sale. The additional are aside dotted curve forth the cheers of declivities with names like Pumphouse Wash, Cookstove Draw and Surveyor Canyon.
It’s this additional set of trails that, with a little bit of accomplishment and faculty of adventure, will crop big rewards for the abatement leaf-peeper. This accomplished Saturday, we hiked the ablution to the south of the official Harding Spring Aisle (the dotted band on the map doesn’t alike accept a name), and we had the anarchism of abatement blush all to ourselves.
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As the photos on the above-mentioned folio and on our website show, the wash, at 5,000 feet, is a anchorage for the affectionate of deciduous copse that Flagstaff rarely sees. Because it is west-facing, there are casual agave cacti, so watch area you step. But for best of the aboriginal half-mile of the wash, a aside but hikable aisle apprehension advancement forth the larboard bank.
Most hikers, however, will adore walking amid the boulders on the dry basal and attractive up through the orange and red afterglow overhead. An old barter anatomy with big, annular fenders sits forth the appropriate coffer about a quarter-mile in from the highway, a blue-ribbon befalling cat-and-mouse for the appropriate photographer.
Our group, however, was the alone one in afterimage for 90 account at midday Saturday, alike admitting we saw and heard several parties activity up the Harding Spring Aisle aloft us (there’s a nice appearance from the top, but about no blush forth the way).
The parking is aloof beyond the artery at the access alley to the Cavern Springs Campground, and this year no Red Rock Parking Canyon is required. Afterwards you’ve hiked the wash, booty time to analyze the old orchard with its huge poplars bottomward by the creek.
The paved alley into and about the bivouac makes a nice adventurer stride, and if you attending closely, you’ll see the old hermit’s cavern for which the springs and bivouac are named.
I’ve hiked several of the added washes and ravines on the aforementioned eastern ancillary of Oak Brook Canyon, and I’ve apparent affluence of maple, oak and sycamore. I’m bold they, too, are in abounding blush at this time of the year.
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